Semiconductor Ceilings (was Deep Blue Column in TIME)

Rick Knight (
Thu, 26 Jun 97 10:09:11 CST

Carl Feynman wrote:

I would not be terribly surprised if economically feasible
semiconductor technology were to bog down after one or two more chip
generations. The maximum speed of a Pentium might be 500 MHz for
decades, until someone develops a breakthrough technology.

Rick responds:

I read recently that electron lasers were able to etch much finer into
silicon which potentially blasted the roof off the impending ceiling
of semi-conductor processing speed. (Intel was talking about the
extraordinary MIPS potential of it's P7 processor three years ago long
before this electron laser technology came about. Anyone know about
their progress?)

Also, silicon may just be a material that's reached the end of its
usefulness or may need fortification by other materials. Cars used to
be all metal, no fiberglass or molded plastic, no aluminum. Lighter
materials have certainly contributed to better mileage and sleaker
more aerodynamic vehicles as well. While this may be a paltry
metaphor, all one need do is determine the next semiconductive
material base.