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IEDM is a meeting held annually since 1955. Historically, it has alternated between Washington DC and San Francisco every other year. However, this year was the last year that the meeting was held in DC and for the foreseeable future (they have dates set until 2021) it will be in the San Francisco Hilton near Union Square (walking distance from my home so very convenient). Back when it started, it was mostly about vacuum tubes and only gradually did transistors and eventually integrated circuits creep in.
Their own description of the meeting is pretty good:
IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) is the world’s preeminent forum for reporting technological breakthroughs in the areas of semiconductor and electronic device technology, design, manufacturing, physics, and modeling. IEDM is the flagship conference for nanometer-scale CMOS transistor technology, advanced memory, displays, sensors, MEMS devices, novel quantum and nano-scale devices and phenomenology, optoelectronics, devices for power and energy harvesting, high-speed devices, as well as process technology and device modeling and simulation.
The meeting is older than Moore's Law, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In fact it was at IEDM in 1975, ten years after Moore's Electronics Magazine article, that Gordon Moore showed how developments in technology had allowed his prediction to be realized, but he updated his prediction and said that the pace would slow to "a doubling every two years, rather than every year."
On the Saturday, there are tutorials. I didn't arrive until that evening but I gather from a couple of people I know that the tutorials were excellent. The topics were:
On the Sunday, there are two short courses that run all day:
Monday morning, there are keynotes. This year they were:
Then the meeting gets completely overwhelming. Monday afternoon through Wednesday, there are eight parallel streams each with about eight presentations per half day. So a total of over 300 presentations. If you are a specialist in some narrow area, it is pretty obvious which sessions to attend but if you are a generalist like me then it is hard to tell from just looking at the titles. In fact, IEDM know it is overwhelming and they have a press lunch on Monday where they highlight about a dozen papers that they consider to be the most significant.
Hidden away in those streams are some invited special focus sessions. This year the five topics were:
These general sessions are interesting and comprehensible to someone who is not a researcher in the precise niche of the paper. The other papers vary in their level of accessibility. It seems that every other year the big semiconductor companies turn up and talk about their processes in detail, but in the years in between they are busy working in secret. For example, last year Intel, TSMC, and GF all presented process details including layer pitches, dielectrics, and more. To give you a flavor of the other papers, here are a few titles:
There is a Monday evening reception (this year with a laser light show since it is apparently the Year of Light). Tuesday lunch this year featured Pat Tang, VP of Product Integrity at Amazon Labs. Tuesday evening, there is a panel session, this year on Emerging Devices, Will they Solve the Bottleneck of CMOS. Wednesday is the entrepreneur lunch.
I hope that I've managed to give you a flavor of the meeting and the breadth of the topics that are covered. There are about 1400 attendees, from all over the world. If you want to understand the future direction of semiconductor technology, then this is undoubtedly the best place to do so.