Creating The Future with LSI
The world’s first computer, ENIAC, which was completed in 1946, had an overall length of 24m and a gross weight of 30 tons. It cost some 490,000 dollars in total to develop (it would be about several hundred billion in today’s money) (above).
The mobile phone, which first hit the market in 1988, weighed 2.5kg and cost in excess of \100,000 yen (below).
This is a cross-section image of LSI. The wirings, which connect the electrical transistor, cross at multi-levels (above).
The thickness of the gate’s oxide membrane, which controls the operation of the electrical transistor, is equal to 4 molecules (below). (Please click photo for enlargement)
Image of cell processor chip. Accumulating 234 million electrical transistors, it made possible the highest possible efficiency of 200GFLOPS (equivalent to 200 billion times of floating-point arithmetic per second). (Please click photo for enlargement)
Making a one-story house chip into a skyscraper can enhance accumulation capacity. We have invented the technology to connect upstairs and downstairs by high-speed wireless and succeeded in developing the technology, which has the world highest speed (1000Gb/s), least energy (0.00014nJ/b), and the lowest cost. It was released at an international conference, called “Semiconductor Olympics”, for 4 successive years, receiving extensive newspaper coverage. (Please click photo for enlargement)
Computers and communication terminal devices have been decreasing in both size and price every year (Photo 1). For example, the size and price of computers are 1/100th of what they were 60 years ago. Operating time has also shortened to one billionth of what it used to be. This is known as downsizing. What made downsizing possible is Large Scale Integration (LSI).
The efficiency and cost of LSI can be improved exponentially by making the processing size of a chip more minute. Memory capacity has been increasing at a rate of 4 times every 3 years. It will increase as much as a 100 times in 10 years time and 1000 times in 15 years. The operation speed of a microprocessor will also be twice as fast in 2 years time and 32 times faster in 10 years time. No other technologies have advanced as rapidly in human history.
Nanotechnology (nano means 10 to the power of -9) is used for making things more micro, more minute. (Photo 2). For example, the thickness of the gate’s oxide membrane, which controls the operation of electrical transistor, is 1.2nm, the thinness equal to 4 molecules. On the other hand, degree of accumulation and speed of operation is governed by giga efficiency (giga means 10 to the power of 9) (Photo 3). Through the application of cutting-edge technology, it is possible to accumulate several billion electrical transistors in a 1cm2 chip. It is possible to accumulate 16Gb (1.6 billion bit) memory and 80 microprocessors in one chip. It is also possible to do floating-point arithmetic of 200 billion times per second. Its efficiency transcends that of a supercomputer.
The number of electrical transistors that could be accumulated in a chip drew level with the earth’s population in 2007 and will exceed the number of neuron in a human’s brain by 2010.
To further raise accumulation capacity, we are formulating technology at our research centre, which involves piling up several semiconductor chips, and then integrating these into one (Photo 4). A good analogy of this would be making a one-story house into a skyscraper. The site area would be smaller and each floor would be closer, which would make for quicker relaying of information.
This kind of large-scale integration is designed by using cutting-edge computers. Future technology and society will be created from the cutting-edge technology. However, it goes without saying that human creativity, which decides what kind of future we should create, is the most important.
Future societies, as I see them look something like this; Computers and other telecommunication equipments will downsize even more, integrate into our daily life soon, and then become invisible. 1cc-sized computers and other telecommunication equipments will be invented and embedded into various applications, which would in turn start thinking, cooperating with each other, and guessing human thought. In short, the space around us will possess intelligence and support our living. This is the blueprint for the structure of a safe and secure society that I envisage being built.
LSI evolves rapidly in this way and creates future societies and shapes civilization. The pleasure of researching LSI is to bring out the potentiality that LSI has and bring to fruition the dream of a future civilization.