Processor Technology Scaling Issues

@ 2004/11/18
In my last article here at Sudhian, I wrote about the process of physically making a CPU from scratch. This time, we're going in depth on current challenges that affect process technology. If you have not done so already, please read that article as a primer for this one.

Many of you have heard words and numbers tossed about relating to nanometer, micrometer, and how that relates to a CPU. That number, whether it's 130 nanometer, or 0.13 micrometer, is the "feature size" of the transistor. This is the smallest size that any one detail can be in resolution when it is created by photo-lithography on the silicon. As time marches on, technology becomes improved, allowing for smaller and smaller features to be created without blurring, thanks to better lenses, shorter wavelength light, and more accurate masks. But what are the gains to be had from smaller transistors?

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