Semiconductor advances may continue through 2025 with extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) coming online in 2020, said tech experts at the annual Industry Strategy Symposium. Market watchers also shared long-term forecasts for mid-single-digit growth, with this year performing above average.

Ballooning design costs and geopolitical wild cards stood out as two of the biggest risks ahead in talks at the event famous for providing a view that spans macroeconomics to nanotechnology.

Scotten Jones, president of IC Knowledge, gave perhaps the most upbeat assessment of the technical roadmap. His talk also provided a kind of decoder ring to decrypt the smoke and mirrors surrounding today’s process nodes.

He predicted that a 5nm node could hit starting in late 2019 using EUV in at least some steps, probably still using some form of FinFETs as transistors. Beyond that, a 3.5nm generation moving to horizontal nanowires could mark the last node for classical scaling.

Nevertheless, a 2.5nm generation stacking n- and p-nanowires could deliver 60-70% density increases into the year 2025, he said, citing a simulation run by process-modeling specialist Coventor.

Gate-all-around transistors

In a separate talk, GlobalFoundries chief technologist Gary Patton shared his optimism. He predicted that chip makers will move to gate-all-around transistors somewhere around 2020 as device structures approach atomic limits.

“There’s a view [that] Moore’s law is ending, but we always figure out how to move things forward,” Patton said.

Let’s find out more about the neck-and-neck race among chip makers.