Shall We Go for ALL-Digital Solution?

I used to characterize myself as an analoger, enjoying the beauty found from Razavi’s analog CMOS book and Hastings’s layout art book.

Then, I became worried of being a pure analoger, because it seems Moore’s law tries to push everything into a single-chip all-digital design, gaining benefits from scaling. If analog was totally replaced by digital, where could I find a job and be rich enough to feed my little platies ;-).

Later then, there comes the term “More-than Moore (MtM)”, which makes the semiconductor industry no longer just based on device scaling but on many innovations. These innovations will not only address frontend technologies but also backend/packaging technologies. This means who tells you that you must go for one single-chip solution?! An example from the white paper from ITRS:

Fig. 1 3D integration of a “More-than-Moore” photodetector (courtesy of Piet de Moor, IMEC)

I’m easily convinced by the future of MtM. Yes, a person, sometimes “too simple, too naive”! haha…

OK! Go back to a serious technological-face, let’s explain what’s “Moore’s law” and “More-than-Moore”?

  • Moore’s law

It’s a bold prediction by Gordon Moore, a visionary, in 1965. It states that the number of transistors on a chip will double approximately every two years.

I found a quite clever and funny explanation of Moore’s law from Intel. They imagine that the transistors in a microprocessor were replaced by people and made a timeline to give an idea of the pace of Moore’s Law.

Fig.2 The timeline which makes me laughing the whole afternoon! (courtesy of Intel)

OK. The best thing always comes the last. Now Imagine that those 1.3 billion Chinese people (definitely including ME!) could fit onstage in the original music hall. That’s the scale of Moore’s law!

  • More-than-Moore

I quote the definition from the aforementioned white paper of ITRS:

“Incorporation into devices of functionalities that do not necessarily scale according to Moore’s Law, but provide additional value in different ways. The More-than-Moore approach allows for the non-digital functionalities to migrate from the system board-level into the package (SiP) or onto the chip (SoC).”

Again, an informative figure from the paper shared here:

Fig.3 Miniaturization of the digital functions (More Moore) and functional diversification (More-than Moore) (courtesy of ITRS)

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