SRC: As Silicon Peaks, Reseach Center is Launched to Produce Future Semiconductor Materials in Aggressive University Collaboration

$7M to Fund Alternative Approaches to Improve CMOS Speed and Power in California, Massachusetts, Minnesota Universities

Jul 11, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO - Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the world's leading university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies, today announced the launch of the Non-Classical CMOS Research Center. With more than $7 million of funding spread across three years, five universities will collaborate as one research center to develop and exploit a new class of semiconductor materials, stretching silicon to its ultimate performance as CMOS.

These materials, called III-V compound semiconductors because their chemical elements are referenced in the third and fifth columns of the universal chemistry periodical tables, will serve as alternatives to current technologies and will extend silicon's known capabilities as the preferred semiconductor. Today's bulk silicon CMOS is known as the classical material, whereas the Non-Classical CMOS Research Center will facilitate the introduction of III-V compounds for sustaining CMOS viability in future end-use applications.

"While all good things must come to an end, we plan for the Non-Classical CMOS Research Center to ensure that Moore's Law will be alive and well for several more generations," said Dr. Jim Hutchby, director of Device Sciences for the Global Research Collaboration (GRC), a unit of the SRC that is responsible for narrowing the options for carrying CMOS to its ultimate limit. "And when the day comes that Moore's Law for classical silicon CMOS is no longer a viable solution, we'll have developed a new set of materials and devices for improvements to speed and power of the historically successful CMOS technology."

Results from the research are projected to enhance speed for CMOS gates and lower power dissipation in circuits. Significant impact on chip manufacturing is expected as early as 2012 - 2014. In comparison, the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) calls for alternative materials to be available to address semiconductor production at the 22-nm level around 2016 - 2019.

The Non-Classical CMOS Research Center will be led by UC-Santa Barbara and comprised of a collective research team from Stanford, UC-San Diego, University of Massachusetts - Amherst and the University of Minnesota. Funds ranging up to a total of $7 million will be provided through SRC, on behalf of its member companies, and from matches by the universities during an initial three-year program. Two more years of additional funding will be possible as options to bring the total award to five years.

"We expect that a new class of compound semiconductors can provide better peak velocities and lower voltages and allow the industry to supplement silicon's critical paths for speed and power," said Professor Mark Rodwell, UC-Santa Barbara, and the Center's director. "This new research effort proposes to benefit a long line of applications and users."

Benefits of the research will serve chipmakers and end-users for communications, computing, gaming, automotive and consumer electronics, and a wide range of other applications that are dependent on silicon's performance.

As a reflection of the potential for technology and footprint improvements provided by introduction of new compound semiconductors, satellite dishes have gained notable advancements in a short period of time. Indium gallium arsenide was added to the preamps on satellite dishes, providing shrinkage of the dish size from five feet to 1.5 feet in diameter in less than 10 years, while doubling the quality of the dish reception.

"This is a perfect time to be in leading-edge research and a pivotal time to help find the means for scaling Moore's Law into future generations," said Rodwell. "Researchers can wait a long time for an opportunity to participate in such a substantial impact on the industry and, ultimately, humankind."

Today's announcement is the result of rigorous competition over many months under the SRC-GRC's Device Sciences Digital CMOS Thrust. After a thorough evaluation of white papers and proposals by technical expert teams, the five universities led by UC-Santa Barbara were selected for funding. SRC facilitates semiconductor research among its community of 23 companies and partners and 100 universities worldwide.

About SRC: As the pioneer of collaborative research for the semiconductor industry, SRC defines industry needs, invests in and manages the research that gives its members a competitive advantage in the dynamic global marketplace. SRC expands the industry knowledge base and attracts premier students to help innovate and transfer semiconductor technology to the commercial industry. Established in 1982, SRC is based in Research Triangle Park, NC, and drives long-term semiconductor research contracts on behalf of its participating members: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., Applied Materials, Inc., Axcelis Technologies, Inc., Cadence Design Systems, Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., Intel Corp., LSI Logic Corp., Mentor Graphics Corp., The Mitre Corp., Novellus Systems, Inc., Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials and Texas Instruments Corp. SRC also seeks to leverage funding from global government agencies. For more information, visit the SRC website.

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