One of the big questions in the chip industry today is whether Advanced Micro Devices can make the hop to 45-nanometer manufacturing in 18 months, as the company has promised. One prominent analyst says that, so far, the chances look good.
"It's definitely doable," writes Dan Hutcheson, CEO of VLSI Research.
Most companies take two years or longer to switch from one manufacturing process to another. It took AMD 26 months to go from 90-nanometer manufacturing to 65-nanometer manufacturing, for instance. (The nanometer number refers to the length of the average feature on the chip. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.)
The hop to 65 nanometers, however, was relatively easy. 45-nanometer manufacturing will entail several structural changes inside chips. AMD and IBM will also adopt immersion lithography, which involves "drawing" circuits on a chip with a light beam while the silicon wafer is submerged in purfied water.
So why the optimism? AMD (and its development partner IBM) have reduced the defect density, the measure of defects per square centimeter) on its test 45-nanometer chips. "The big issue is defects, which IBM and AMD seem to have a leg up on," he writes.