Moore’s law – is it a spring of productivity?

The most important thing in life is gardening, and that again is not very important, goes the old saying.  Productivity is also important. Growth is not an absolute value for business, but productivity is. Productivity means that we gain more with less. Productivity brings essential competitive advantages in the market economy. Aiming at productivity creates ideas, value propositions, demand, growth and profits. Pursuit of productivity and resulting competition force the market players to invest. Productivity creates jobs and competitiveness.

Digitalization is probably the most essential element and enabler to increase productivity. Typical routes are transformation of products, new business models and process optimization. Core enablers are electronic devices, and based on those, distributed functionalities, automation, accessible computing capacity and data-driven business opportunities.

The electronic devices enabling productivity growth are eventually based on Moore’s law. The law is a continuation from the 1960’s and proven to work. On the other hand, the extension of Moore’s law has been questioned as long as man can remember (personally >20 years), and always the continuation has taken place. Moore’s law means originally that density of transistors on a square millimeter doubles every 18–24 months. The shrinking of components enables continuously better performance and power efficiency in a cost-effective way i.e. more with less. This development enables productivity growth by digitalization, for example, more effective and convenient gardening or any other economic sector.

Moore’s law or unwritten agreement?

Moore’s law is actually a kind of unwritten and generally accepted agreement between the electronics industry and world economy. As a consequence, the semiconductor industry continuously invests c. 17% of its revenue in R&D. If this was not done, all development would be much slower and world economic growth would be in danger. The belief that Moore’s law continues and its predictivity create boldness to invest and eventually produces necessary resources and innovations. Lack of sight for continuation is a major headache for the world economy.

It is said that the originally Finnish invention, ALD-technology, has saved Moore’s law at least once. ALD technology enabled controlled manufacturing of ultra-thin high-k insulator materials and solved the leakage current issue which was a major headache of its time. Intel was a forerunner and first adopted ALD for semiconductor production in 2007. ALD expertise is still strong in Finland.

Future in third dimension

Today, the transistors have been packed in so small and dense that shrinking is carried out in an increasing pace in 3-dimensions. For example, a 256 Gb Flash memory circuit compares figuratively to the difficulty of approximately 4 billion 72-storey skyscrapers on a dime.

An important value proposition of ALD is to solve manufacturing challenges for 3-dimensional components.

A major issue in this development is slow speed, and Moore’s law is time-dependent. At VTT, we have considered this issue, and developed a promising solution. The PillarHall test structures by VTT significantly accelerate development and control of thin films and related manufacturing processes in 3-D microstructures. The beneficiaries are ALD-technology and other process developers, as well as the whole electronics value network. PillarHall is an innovation for those who innovate an extension to Moore’s law. A true enabler for Moore’s law. Can there be any better value proposition to create productivity and impact?

PillarHall VTT

Turn your thinking 90 degrees – PillarHall compares to a 100 km wide hall on a size of a coin. See more at: http://www.pillarhall.com/

Mikko Utriainen VTTMikko Utriainen
Senior Specialist, Business Development
Twitter: @MikkoUtriainen

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