From NFC to artificial brains: Future Horizons' future of chips -

As well as looking at the state of the chip industry, IFS2012 saw Future Horizons give some predictions into the application of semiconductors over the coming years.

Starting with what the coming year is likely to have in store, CTO Mike Bryant gave his predictions stretching out into the almost unknown, twenty-odd years hence.

It is expected that Apple will finally get to stick some NFC chips into the iPhoneSamsung is also expected to push the technology this year, according to some IFS attendees.

As expected, Ultrabooks will pervade into mainstream consciousness, though, as Bryant points out, most will want until a generation running on Windows 8 appears later in the year before splashing out.  Windows on ARM is not expected to have much effect, though we imagine will grab headlines when released.

The TV market will carry on pushing 3D and, following the CES show-stealing, smart TVs will see a boost. Whether manufacturers will be able to meet the struggle for profits this year is another question though.  Apple TV rumours were also fuelled, adding to expectations that even larger needless shiny rectangles will make it into our lives by the end of the year.

Just as TechEye has been saying semiconductors will also make an assault on classrooms, with government backing products such as the RaspberryPi to promote computing and programming for a new generation.

Longer term, Bryant gave his predictions on the further evolution of the semi industry, with Intel leading the way with 15nm Trigate development, and larger production beginning possibly the year after.  450mm wafers will begin testing at its Albany site, with low scale production the following year.

Meanwhile TSMC and GloFo will fire up 20nm planar chip development, though whether more advanced process difficulties will be seen is unknown.

ARM’s global takeover, according to its bosses at least, will also begin with the big.LITTLE concept appearing  in its A15/A7 chip combination.

4G should finally arrive in the airwaves of Blighty in 2013 too, some years after others got their hands on it. Though it could be a while still before many people actually get to use it.

2014 should see some exciting developments with production of memristor technology, while 2015 could bring about Intel fiddling around with 11nm process Trigate chips.

By 2016 the LED lighting market should finally move into people’s lives, overcoming current cost issues with larger production levels cutting price, leading to a $30 billion industry by the end of the decade.   Work into self-powering devices should become mainstream this year too, beginning to open up the almost frightening possibilities of the Internet of Things.

Jumping to 2018 Intel will be producing 11nm chips in large scale as Moore’s Law begins to hit a slowdown to a three year cycle. Large scale 15nm production on 450mm wafers should see massive amounts of chips churned aiding to the ubiquity of semiconductors in our lives.

By this point it is entirely possible, Bryant says, that graphene circuits could be rivalling silicon with large scale production of chips based on the material.

Towards the end of the decade 5nm process devices could be demonstrated, with a convergence of memory and logic technologies allowing for the development of artificial brains.

From here on out the roadmap blurs into science fiction, but in the next ten to fifteen years work into 3nm processes should push Moore’s Law to its absolute limits, while we could finally be buying examples of the next step: quantum computing.

Implantable mobile phones will mean that it is truly impossible to be uncontactable, 24/7 telehealth monitoring could allow people to put their life in the hands of NHS IT staff, and quasi-intelligent robots will FINALLY begin to become available.

As for hoverboards though, it appears we will have to wait for IFS2013 at least before we find out.