Beyond Moore's Law—Navigating the Future of Semiconductor Innovation

by Matt Griffith / June 25, 2024

In 1965, Gordon E. Moore, a co-founder of Intel Corp., projected that the number of transistors on a silicon computer chip would double every two years, a phenomenon later dubbed "Moore's Law." Moore posited that despite size reductions of integrated circuits (ICs), their transistor count would continue to rise. Originally expected to last a decade, Moore's insight has guided semiconductor development for over 50 years, symbolizing the tremendous growth in computer capabilities and the demand for more advanced, compact technology applications. Benchmark has aided semiconductor companies in this pursuit by supporting semiconductor capital equipment companies in developing tools essential for the fabrication and production of semiconductors with reduced size, weight, and power (SWaP) for several markets.

The Complexities of Semiconductor Advancement

Moore's projection has acted as a driving force in the semiconductor industry, spurring manufacturers to enhance functionality in increasingly smaller packages. This relentless scaling has caused significant advances in semiconductor materials and equipment for device fabrication. For instance, lithography advancements have made it possible to create extremely fine features for tiny transistors. However, the challenge extends beyond mere size reduction. It encompasses a deep dive into the physics of transistor behavior and the properties of substrate materials. These efforts require a broad spectrum of expertise, ranging from precision engineering to specialized testing, all of which Benchmark offers to support the industry's progress.

Post-Moore's-Law Innovations

While Moore's Law has substantially influenced the proliferation of semiconductor technology, its progress is moderating as the industry encounters physical and technical limits. This deceleration is evident in the transition from bulky analog devices to the compact, power-efficient digital technologies underlying today's fifth generation (5G) and forthcoming sixth generation (6G) communications. Innovations—such as multi-core processors—have emerged to address challenges like heat dissipation from densely packed transistors, enabling continued advancements in computing power without a corresponding increase in size or energy consumption.

As Moore's Law matures, the focus has shifted toward meeting the requirements of new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in automotive applications. This has led to developing specialized ICs, including system-on-chip (SoC) solutions that integrate all necessary components into a single, compact package. These advancements are critical for reducing SWaP across various applications, from communications systems to automotive electronics. Additionally, the demand for high transistor-density devices is surging, driven by AI and machine learning (ML) applications. These sectors require chips to deliver exceptional performance and efficiency within smaller, lighter products. To support this next wave of semiconductor innovation, advancements in capital equipment are essential, ensuring that the industry can continue to meet the evolving demands of technology applications beyond the era of Moore's Law.

Serving Semiconductor Suppliers

Semiconductor suppliers struggling with maintaining Moore's Law face many challenges in doubling the number of transistors per IC every two years, especially with the investments in semiconductor capital equipment required to continue rapid semiconductor scaling. For example, the widespread adoption of IoT devices will require SoC devices with enhanced efficiency and reduced SWaP, which often exceeds the capabilities of the previous generation of semiconductor capital equipment. Fortunately, Benchmark offers several global advanced manufacturing and engineering services as a product realization partner for semiconductor capital equipment OEMs. These services are essential to advancing semiconductor capital equipment to performance levels needed to move beyond Moore's Law. They are supported by specialized software, hardware, and skill sets that enable critical modifications and redesigns.

This broad range of services includes:

By investing in multiple facilities—including Malaysia, the Netherlands, Romania, and several locations in the United States—Benchmark offers semiconductor manufacturing services, including access to ISO Class 6, 7, and 8 cleanrooms and automated testing worldwide. 

Driving Semiconductor Progress

Packing more transistors into smaller spaces might be a slowing trend. In fact, as we move into the future, the rate of increase may no longer align with Gordon Moore’s predicted pace. As electronic products and their semiconductor components increasingly integrate into everyday life, the demand for greater functionality from smaller devices will only grow. Semiconductor suppliers must overcome the challenges of providing smaller products with increasing numbers of active devices.

Benchmark supports semiconductor capital equipment needed for manufacturing by meeting performance requirements while keeping pace with technology advancements to enhance manufacturing tools. Although the path to progress might not always be as linear as predicted by Gordon Moore, Benchmark offers the resources, capabilities, and experience necessary to help companies innovate and adapt to the ever-advancing technology within the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Benchmark is honored to support your innovation journey. Reach out today, and together, we'll navigate the future of semiconductor innovation. 

Precision Machining Semiconductor Capital Equipment

about the author

Matt Griffith

Matt Griffith is a Director of Global Account Management at Benchmark, where he brings his strategic understanding and passion for excellence to the forefront of the manufacturing industry. With an impressive track record in managing and growing a challenging customer base in the semiconductor capital equipment sector, Matt combines his engineering background and MBA to effectively navigate complex international business landscapes. His entrepreneurial mindset and expertise in business development, account management, and global operations has been instrumental in developing profitable businesses and motivating teams to achieve their goals.

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