I work at as a process engineer.

about semiconductor processing.

(I will not be answering questions about CPU design specifically, but about semiconductor processing in general)

@matt
How exponentially does Economies of Scale have to size up for transistor densities smaller than say, 32 or 64 nanometers over even 14 or 12?

@HarneyBA node sizes are determined such that each node size decrease translates to a doubling of transistor density.

Ie for planar transistors, the drop from 45nm to 32nm doubled the number of transistors per square millimeter.

Of course, the cost of each node drop is greater than the gain in transistor density

@HarneyBA that doesn't hold up anymore, however, in the era of FinFET transistors. Intel has been FinFET since 22nm, and pretty much every node smaller than that in the industry is also FinFET.

Node size in FinFET era is also mostly meaningless below 15nm, because it doesn't account for fin pitch and density in any way

@HarneyBA cost goes up a huge amount from this point forward. Below 10nm it requires new UV technology that is only just now coming to fruition.

450mm wafers are also just around the corner, and when they are ready, the ENTIRE industry will move to them at the same time. That will require ENORMOUS capital expense the likes we haven't seen since 300mm wafers came out

@HarneyBA why move to 450mm you ask? 450mm will result in a 2.25x greater die per wafer, while maintaining CURRENT cost/wafer.

We saw the same benefits with each wafer size jump, from 100mm -> 150mm -> 200mm -> 300mm.

Of course. That ignores cost of new equipment and R&D.

@matt
Interesting. I'm mostly looking at this from the perspective from reading from DIY folks like Sam Zeloof managing to fabricate microcontrollers around a single micrometer in size with 'basic appliances'. The semicondictor tooling surrounding from even 2008 must have been exorbitantly expensive, let alone the costs needed in this stage of development.

@HarneyBA A modern photolithography machine capable of laying patterns for 14nm nodes can easily cost $100M EACH. Most other tools cost around $5M-10M each, too.

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@HarneyBA Also micron-size nodes were last used in microchips in the 70s and early 80s.

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