back to article US to help Japan make leading-edge 2nm chips, possibly by 2025

Japan is reportedly hoping to join the ranks of countries producing leading-edge 2nm chips as soon as 2025, and it's working with the US to make such ambitions a reality. Nikkei reported Wednesday that businesses from both countries will jointly research the design and manufacturing of such components for devices ranging from …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So, we're now at 2nm

    What's the unit smaller than a nanometer ?

    Are we going to start counting in atoms ?

    Because, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought I had already read that we are approaching the physical limits of the Universe. Just as you can't do colder than absolute zero, you can't go smaller than the size of an atom.

    So, are we there yet ?

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: So, we're now at 2nm

      How many times does it need to be pointed out to Reg readers that the names of processes in nanometers has nothing whatsoever to do with physical dimensions of transistors anymore. When they were planar they did, but they haven't been for well over a decade. In another decade they'll look like little skyscrapers, with everything stacked up vertically to minimize the footprint.

      The process names are a holdover, and basically indicate the density scaling that has occurred as a result of making transistors differently.

      The "5nm" transistors in the latest iPhones would be called "24nm" if they were measured the way planar transistors were.

      1. Filippo Silver badge

        Re: So, we're now at 2nm

        Probably many more times, and the fault does not lie with Reg readers, but rather with chip makers producing marketingspeak that's deliberately confusing.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: So, we're now at 2nm

          You actually can't even blame the chipmakers, it was the industry organization that generates (or at least used to generate) industry roadmaps that kept the old process naming in place when the technology changed. They could have talked about processes in terms of density in transistors per mm^2 since that's what they effectively meant, but there are no standard ways to measure that. Do you mean theoretical density or maximum actual density. For logic or cache? Do you include dummy cells and other non functional transistors or only active ones, etc. etc. So continuing with the nanometer based names was probably the LEAST confusing alternative for the industry (they don't really care about the general public, foundries, equipment makers, chip designers etc. are their "customers", not consumers.

          The chipmakers themselves have abandoned those names, TSMC doesn't call the process making Apple's M1 chips "5nm", it calls it N5. Samsung gives their processes names like 7LPP. Intel was the laggard but finally went along with it with names like "Intel 4".

          That doesn't stop everyone else from still calling them "5nm" chips, of course, but that's not the chipmaker's fault.

      2. Archivist

        Re: So, we're now at 2nm

        Well you only have to point it out once to me, and I'm grateful for the knowledge.

        I look forward to a future of picometre skyscrapers!

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: So, we're now at 2nm

      The ångström, which is 0.1nm, or the picometre (pm) which is 0.001nm.

    3. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: So, we're now at 2nm

      "What's the unit smaller than a nanometer ?"

      In SI units, the picometre.

      "Because, correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought I had already read that we are approaching the physical limits of the Universe. Just as you can't do colder than absolute zero, you can't go smaller than the size of an atom."

      You're very wrong. We've been studying things smaller than atoms for well over a century now - protons were first theorised over two centuries ago. And we've been studying the structure of the things inside atoms for getting on for 60 years. Manufacturing at that scale may be a little tricky with current technology, but it's certainly nothing like a physical limit imposed by the laws of the universe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So, we're now at 2nm

        Can't you do this in thous? Like 1/4096 thous? Are the POM serious about going back to Imperial measurements?

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