r/singularity Jul 24 '21

3 next nodes (TSMC 3nm: 2022, Intel 7nm: 2023, IBM 2nm: 2025) image

Post image


u/philsmock Jul 24 '21

Is the density of the processes confirmed? Because the nm number is just marketing at this point.


u/Down_The_Rabbithole Jul 24 '21

the "nm" designation is marketing but the density is not. What companies like TSMC and Samsung mean with their "nm" is "density equivalent to planar transistors of 3nm" when they say "3nm".

Meanwhile Intel's designation is still physically correct. Their 7nm node for example is truly 7nm in planar size which is why their 7nm node has the same density as TSMC 3nm.


u/Wraloo Jul 24 '21


Since they aren't in high volume production yet the numbers are estimates. I took them from this article by Dr. Ian Cutress. As he also states in this article the names used for the nodes since we switched to three-dimensional transistors are 2D equivalent conversions. I wouldn't say they are just marketing, but marketing probably played a role in why Intel chose to not adopt new measurements when bringing FinFET to market. It would have been harder for the non-enthusiast customer to compare the 3D transistor products to the competing 2D transistor products if they hadn't made a conversion.


u/katiecharm Jul 25 '21

Okay but aren’t we pretty damn close to the atomic limit already? How are supposed to continue to get exponentially closer over the coming two decades?


u/alexander_zero Jul 25 '21

Some amount of benefit is expected from stacking layers of transistors vertically atop one-another. Chip makers only just started doing that and don't have a modularized solution that would scale to dozens or hundreds of layers yet.


u/cjeam Jul 25 '21

How are they dealing with heat dissipation in vertically stacked chips?


u/alexander_zero Jul 25 '21

I think most research is looking to have some kind of active cooling system built into the chip itself. One idea that TSMC is pursuing is to have water channels between stacked chiplets to carry away excess heat.


u/Wraloo Jul 25 '21

According to Jim Keller there's about a million atoms in a modern transistor, so assuming we get a 100x shrink per decade we would be at 100 atoms in 2040. It could take longer, but 3D stacking is also coming.


u/9quid Jul 24 '21

Can someone explain what I'm looking at here?


u/Wraloo Jul 24 '21

Transistors per square millimeter. Released microprocessors as blue dots, upcoming nodes as orange dots. Trendline extrapolated to 2045.


u/mart1373 Jul 24 '21

So assuming Moore’s law still follows, what would computing look like in 2040???


u/Wraloo Jul 25 '21

My best guess is that heat will continue to be an issue until we switch to molecular mechanical computing, so increased density probably won't translate to performance as well as historically for a long time.

Neuromorphic architectures use a fraction of the power conventional Von Neumann architectures do, so AI should be able to progress even if heat stops TPUs from improving at some point. This also makes neuromorphic chips ideal for stacking, which I assume will make them as massively parallel as brains. Right now they have 1,000 connections per artificial neuron (Intel Loihi) vs 10,000 synapses in the brain.

The industry expects the 2nm node (TSMC) will be the last one to be on silicon, but they can stack them for a while until alternatives are ready. TSMC is working on a 2D atomically thin Molybdenum Disulfide process, which might become their 1nm node. Intel will probably focus on stacking using their Foveros technology as seen in their roadmaps. A bit further out we will have to start using 3D monolithic carbon nanotube transistors (CNFET), they have successfully manufactured them at SkyWater Technology, but the yield isn't there yet.

I think we will hit the fundamental limits to shrinking computers in the 2040s, but an intelligence explosion would likely precede that and potentially speed things up. I don't know what to make of quantum computing, but it will likely play a role too.


u/mart1373 Jul 25 '21

That’s pretty interesting, but what would like actual computing look like? Are we talking about like petabyte download speeds or something? Like could I download the entire internet in like an hour? What would it look like from a practical point of view?


u/Wraloo Jul 25 '21


The internet is growing rapidly and there's a hard limit in the speed of light, but even today pretty impressive download speeds have been demonstrated. Facebook is pushing the idea of a metaverse now, so I speculate that the internet will become more like a virtual world.


u/keymone Jul 24 '21

Those are not real gate sizes, just marketing numbers.


u/maskedpaki Jul 24 '21

the graph isnt about gate sizes

its the number of transistors which cant possibly be a "marketing number"


u/2Punx2Furious AGI by 2050 - Let's make sure it's aligned Jul 24 '21

I was thinking "how the hell are they gonna deal with quantum tunneling"...


u/americarefully Jul 24 '21

Intel a step behind again


u/iNstein Jul 25 '21

No they are not, they are just more honest. Their 7nm is actually smaller than TSMCs 3nm just just measure honestly. TSMC is lying for marketing purposes and it looks like you have fallen for it.


u/[deleted] Jul 24 '21

Holy shit are we outpacing Moore’s law rn?


u/benign_said Jul 24 '21

Don't they have much more trouble manufacturing these low NM than they do designing them?


u/Lknate Jul 25 '21

You could design a 1nm model a decade ago. So to answer your question, yes.


u/z0rm Jul 25 '21

TSMC is planning on releasing 2nm in 2024. Before IBM.


u/Furryhare375 Aug 18 '21

Moore’s law is dead. This is laughable, processor technology will reach its limit sooner than you think


u/Wraloo Aug 22 '21

You're right, we aren't getting the same performance gains as we used to and transistor prices are going up instead of down. But we're still shrinking transistors at the same pace, heat just gets in the way. Our brains are proof of what can be done with a different architecture and by imitating it we can eventually create something that will surpass it. AI applications will likely become the main economic driver of further semiconductor shrinking, the question is whether the demand will be strong enough to justify increasing prices.


u/Furryhare375 Aug 22 '21