Illustration: Emily Cooper Eliminating EXCESS: In the next few years, traditional planar CMOS field-effect transistors [left] will be replaced by alternate architectures that boost the gate's control of the channel. The UTB SOI [center] replaces the bulk silicon channel with a thin layer of silicon mounted on insulator. The FinFET [right] turns the transistor channel on its side and wraps the gate around three sides.
Researchers are already trying to figure out what devices might succeed FinFETs and UTB SOIs, to continue Moore's Law scaling. One possibility is to extrapolate the FinFET concept by using a nanowire device that is completely surrounded by a cylindrical gate. Another idea is to exploit quantum tunneling to create switches that can't leak current when they're not switched on. We don't know what will come next. The emergence of FinFETs and UTB SOIs clearly shows that the days of simple transistor scaling are long behind us. But the switch to these new designs also offers a clear demonstration of how creative thinking and a good amount of competition can help us push Moore's Law to its ultimate limit—whatever that might be.
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