AMD produced a 45nm test chip in partnership with IBM using Extreme Ultra-Violet lithography. The firm claims this technology will make it possible to produce 22nm chips in 2016:
AMD produced the test chip in partnership with IBMIBM using Extreme Ultra-Violet lithography, a type of lithography that uses a shorter wavelength of light than today's standard lithographic tools. The shorter wavelength means the circuits on a silicon wafer can be etched at a smaller size.
"This important demonstration of EUV lithography's potential to be used in semiconductor manufacturing in the coming years is encouraging to all of us in the industry that benefit from chip feature sizes shrinking over time," said AMD's Bruno La Fontaine, who presented details of the chip at the SPIE Advanced Lithography conference in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday.
Chip companies continually seek to shrink the size of transistors in order to boost performance and reduce costs -- a phenomenon known as Moore's Law.
AMD said the test chip features 45-nanometer transistors. But EUV's real promise involves future generations of microprocessors with transistors measuring 22-nanometers and below, dimensions at which today's optical lithography tools are no longer expected to be viable.
AMD's use of EUV lithography on the test chip involved only the metal interconnects that link the various transistors. The next step, said AMD, will be to use EUV lithography not just for the metal interconnects, but for all of the microprocessor's critical layers.
Intel is also doing its own tests with EUV lithography.