Published in PC Hardware

Papermaster says 7nm is a tough lift

by on25 July 2017

Double our efforts

AMD supreme dalek Mark Papermaster says that moving to 7nm is proving a “tough lift".

To gear up for 7nm, “we had to literally double our efforts across foundry and design teams...It’s the toughest lift I’ve seen in a number of generations,” perhaps back to the introduction of copper interconnects, he told EE Times.

The 7nm node requires new “CAD tools and [changes in] the way you architect the device [and] how you connect transistors—the implementation and tools change [as well as] the IT support you need to get through it”, he said.

Both AMD’s Zen 2 and Zen 3 x86 processors will be made in 7nm. “It’s a long node, like 28nm...and when you have a long node it lets the design team focus on micro-architecture and systems solutions” rather than redesign standard blocks for the next process, Papermaster said.

The CPUs and GPUs AMD is shipping today were among its first designs in 14/16nm nodes using double patterning lithography and FinFET transistors.

He said for it all to work AMD’s partnerships with foundries and the EDA industry had to deepen.

“We have quad patterning on certain critical levels [where] you need almost perfect communications between the design teams,” he said.

Papermaster expects foundries will start using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography from 2019 to reduce the need for quad patterning. EUV “could bring a large reduction in total masks and thus lower costs and shorten cycle time for new designs.

“Foundries will introduce [EUV] at different rates but...I urge them all to go as fast as they can”, he said.

AMD has used Globalfoundries to make its x86 CPUs and TSMC to make its graphics processors.

“They have both been aggressive in 7nm and that’s good for the industry. The gap has closed versus where Intel is at and that’s an incredible juncture in the industry that people have predicted and now were seeing it”, Papermaster added.

Last modified on 26 July 2017
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