Three of the top semi companies in the world will be banding together to solve the problems of ever-shrinking process technologies, reports the Nikkei (subscription required).
According to the Japanese media outlet, Intel Corporation, Toshiba and Samsung Electronics will kickstart a research lab and manufacturing facilities in Japan to research and develop technologies that could take the companies to the 10nm mark (well, 11nm if you want to be picky), by 2016. The triumvirate also want to bring on board ten other semi firms to help out in the endeavour. For such a precise number, we presume they know exactly who they want on board.
The Japanese Ministry of Economy will put up 50 per cent of the initial investment by way of generous funding, something in the ballpark of ¥5bn (around £38.85 million).
Shrinking processes isn't just a matter of making something physically smaller with adequate tools to manufacture them. Each node presents an entire new set of problems to solve. A while back, when Intel reached the 45nm mark, the introduction of High-K metal gates eliminated the greatest problem (leakage). Beyond 22nm, however, you get increased off-state current, which leads to increased leakage which has a solution, but that - classic - solution leads to yet even more problems which put a limit on conductivity and limits how low a voltage you can use.
All in all, collaborating on reserach is probably a good thing for the three companies to do right now... something which AMD and IBM have been doing for a quite a few years already.