Paolo Gargini, Fellow at Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group, and director of technology strategy for the semiconductor vendor, understands very well the challenges and sometimes incredible difficulties of moving a product from conception to the end customer.
At the 2011 Semico Summit on May 3, Gargini highlighted the time gap between when an idea is formed, to when the science, technology, and engineering are able to make that idea a reality. The incubation time for a concept to become real has shortened from many decades for, say, satellites to 12-15 years now for many ideas.
The driving technology in the semiconductor industry to date has been the ability to scale CMOS transistors. The Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI) is a consortium begun by Semiconductor Industry Association member companies to run a university-based research program to determine what will come next after the limits of CMOS scaling have been reached. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) joined as a full participant in 2007. NRI's goal is to have a demonstrable solution by 2020.
The solution is supposed to show benefits in power, performance, density, and/or cost in order to continue the cost and performance gains from traditional scaling. There are four main branches of the NRI-NIST program: the Western Institute of Nanoelectronics (WIN) at UCLA; the Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery and Exploration (INDEX) at SUNY-Albany; the SouthWest Academy for Nanoelectronics (SWAN) at UT-Austin; and the Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery (MIND).
Science, technology, and engineering companies have been working together to invent the next new product that we all can't live without. The semiconductor industry has relied on Moore's Law to set a sustainable pace for the past 40 years. As chips have integrated more functions, become denser with transistors, and become available in large quantities, multiple end-product waves have been able to occur.
New technologies are being developed by groups such as NRI, which promise to continue the pace of new chip introductions we have experienced so far. Problems occur when the chips can't meet the products' required functionality, but that's when other similar products can be repurposed in order to drive the eventual success of the end product.