SIA Semiconductors

International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors Outlines Next 15 Years of Innovation

Report details long-term challenges and opportunities relating to smaller, faster, more energy efficient chips of tomorrow

Published Tuesday, February 7, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C.—FEBRUARY 7, 2012—The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), representing U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and design, announced that the 2011 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) has been publicly released. The comprehensive and detailed roadmap addresses near-term and long-term challenges and innovations for the semiconductor design and manufacturing industry through 2026. By identifying technical challenges well in advance the industry and research community can dedicate time and resources to overcoming them; ultimately enabling performance and capability increases for tomorrow’s semiconductors – the fundamental building block of all technology used in modern society. 

“The ITRS is an invaluable resource for mapping out the future of the technology industry.  It offers a glimpse into future semiconductor advancements and the technical challenges that accompany the rapid pace of innovation that our industry is known for,” said Brian Toohey, president, Semiconductor Industry Association. “The ITRS leverages our industry’s most brilliant researchers, engineers and scientists to address the highly complex interconnection of semiconductor design and manufacturing functions which will ultimately yield faster, smarter, more energy efficient, less costly and higher performance chips that will enable untold number of technology devices and functions in the future. The magnitude and implications of this type of globally coordinated effort are unmatched by any other industry and by working through some of the challenges and opportunities detailed in the ITRS, our industry will enable society to use technology to advance beyond our current level.”

The ITRS is sponsored by five regions of the world; Europe, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the United States and is overseen by SIA.  The 2011 ITRS was presented at a public forum in Incheon, Korea on December 14, 2011. Through the cooperative efforts of the global chip manufacturers and equipment suppliers, research communities and consortia, the Roadmap teams identify critical challenges, technical needs and potential solutions.  One of the primary challenges that the industry has identified is how to decrease the size of semiconductors while increasing performance standards to meet consumer demands.

“Since Intel co-founder, Gordon Moore identified the trend that chip performance doubles every two years, the industry has been working to meet and exceed this goal. The fact that our industry has been able to keep up this pace of innovation has brought about the proliferation of digital electronics and its significant impact on nearly every segment of the world economy,” continued Toohey. “The ITRS is the industry’s plan to keep pace with Moore’s Law.”

Several key areas of advancement have been highlighted in the 2011 ITRS, specifically; memory, flash, and MEMS or micro-electro-mechanical systems. The ITRS report notes that Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) technology development will be accelerated which will allow for faster introduction of technologies like higher-performance servers and sophisticated graphics for game consoles.  Additionally, flash technology, used as memory in mobile computing devices such as digital cameras, tablet PCs and cell phones, is expected to experience accelerated development over the next two years.  And the introduction of three-dimensional (3D) flash technology beginning in 2016 will allow for greater memory capabilities for a broad range of popular consumer electronics.

The 2011 ITRS also explores the newest possibilities for innovative interconnects, switches, devices, and materials to advance nanotechnology.  While the continued scaling down to the nanometer level occurs, innovative designs and models for new applications and products have expanded research and development of micro-electro-mechanical systems or MEMS which is a type of sensor and are increasingly included in smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, and numerous other consumer electronic products. Researchers are also increasing attention in the RF and Analog Mixed-signal based technologies. Focus on such pioneering technologies in scaling and technology applications by the ITRS teams enable affordable, advanced products for consumers throughout the world.


In addition to addressing scale and performance challenges, the ITRS presents models for enhancing the highly complex manufacturing and measurement processes required to achieve smaller, higher performance and more energy efficient semiconductors. The ITRS also focuses on cost-effective manufacturing and resource conservation to meet the rapidly changing needs of semiconductor design innovations.

Each ITRS working group coordinates with related teams across disciplines to write reports indicating the state of the current technology, technology challenges, critical needs, potential solutions, and areas of innovation. When incorporated into the ITRS, the reports provide guidelines for the global industry that are intended for technology assessment only, without regard to any commercial considerations. Further, the roadmap can serve as a  guide  for corporate strategic plans and business unit programs; help to assess lead times for equipment development plans, process and materials; and assess key metrics for industry productivity/profitability such as progress on Moore’s law, productivity trends, industry cycles and economic models.

To learn more about the ITRS, visit www.itrs.net to download the Executive Summary, the Emerging Research Devices, MEMS, System Drivers, and other technology roadmap reports.

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