Shift to 7nm 'the toughest lift in generations', says AMD CTO Mark Papermaster

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Shift to 7nm ‘the toughest lift in generations’, says AMD CTO Mark Papermaster, as he explains the challenges of the forthcoming shift to 7nm process architectures for AMD in EE Times interview
AMD CTO Mark Papermaster introducing AMD’s new Ryzen microprocessors

The planned shift to seven-nanometre semiconductor nodes is one of the toughest process moves in several generations, according to AMD chief technology officer Mark Papermaster, requiring new CAD tools and architectural changes.

Speaking to EE Times, Papermaster added that, while AMD planned to run its second and third generation Zen architecture x86 microprocessors on 7nm, it would likely be a ‘long node’, like the 28nm process, “and when you have a long node it lets the design team focus on micro-architecture and systems solutions”, rather than simply redesigning standard ‘blocks’.

In addition to new CAD tools and architectural changes, AMD has found that it requires changes in the way that transistors are connected, and deeper partnerships with foundries. “In 7nm, it requires even deeper cooperation [because] we have quad patterning on certain critical levels [where] you need almost perfect communications between the design teams,” he told EE Times.

Papermaster continued that foundries would likely introduce ‘extreme ultraviolet lithography’ from 2019 to reduce…

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