By John Ferguson – Mentor, A Siemens Business
Deciding when and how to make a process node transition is critical to business success, and there are many factors to consider. Are you sure you have all the information you need to make the right decision?
When your company is considering moving to a process node, how do they calculate the cost/benefit of the move? What factors do they include in those calculations? You might be shocked to learn that most companies don’t come close to considering all the relevant inputs. That can end up surprising you, but not in a good way.
Reduction in the total cost per transistor is a highly visible factor, and can make migration to newer process nodes look particularly attractive, along with the use of larger wafers (more chips/wafer=reduced manufacturing costs). But those can be offset by the increase in metal layers required at advanced nodes and the additional masks needed to support multi-patterned designs. But all of those are obvious cost decreases/increases that can usually be predicted fairly accurately, and that’s where many companies stop.
What’s not so clear in hard currency is the increased costs of designing for advanced nodes. The exponential growth in design rule checks and operations, which not only take more time to run, but require a significant investment of engineer time to understand and use them properly. More design for manufacturing analysis, which is needed to predict and offset the impact of manufacturing limitations. A new node may require new or enhanced tools to enable designers to verify and optimize designs while also maintaining delivery schedules. To implement all that checking and analysis also requires a lot more computation, which comes in the form of increased hardware (along with increased costs for power and cooling). Oh, and don’t forget storage for all that data!
If you’re not considering all of these factors, you may not be getting a true picture of the cost/benefit of node migration. That can spell disaster for any company.
For an in-depth discussion of these factors, and how you can better anticipate their impact on your company, download our white paper, The True Costs of Process Node Migration