Category Archive ASN #13

SOI & the greening of electronics

The SOI Industry Consortium has a major role to play promoting the power-saving benefits of SOI.

The SOI Industry Consortium has now launched the “SOI: Simply Greener” campaign.  Over the next few months, we’ll be reaching out to the industry and the press with this message.  But for our members, “green” is much more than a slogan:  it’s embedded in their core values.

Last year’s joint survey with the GSA, the “SOI technology: Semiconductor perception & awareness study”, indicated that almost half of the design community sees power savings as the single most important advantage of using SOI. Read More

What’s new

SOI: Simply Greener — The Campaign

This summer, the SOI Industry Consortium launched the “SOI Simply Greener” initiative, encouraging the electronics industry to adopt a broader application of SOI’s energy saving benefits.

Results from two studies offered by consortium members demonstrate both increased performance and reduced power consumption – the magnitude of the benefit applied to each is the designer’s choice.

  • A benchmark analysis was performed by ARM Holdings using a 24-stage interconnect-loaded datapath circuit.  When comparing IBM’s 45nm bulk high performance and 45nm SOI technologies, the SOI implementation resulted in a 25% circuit area reduction, 66% reduction in static power leakage and nearly 22% reduction in dynamic power with 5% higher performance.
  • A consumer product chip design that was migrated from 65nm bulk high performance to IBM’s 45nm SOI technology realized a 50% increase in operating frequency, more than 64% reduction in die area and a 38% reduction in power.

Whether designers put the emphasis on increasing or maintaining performance, significant power savings (as well as area savings) were realized with a move to SOI.

Get the Logo

The Consortium’s SOI: Simply Greener logo is freely available on the website. Members and supporters are encouraged to download it for use in their own presentations.

Industry Support

In support of the press announcement launching the initiative, the Consortium offered citations from industry leaders. A few follow here – you can read all of them on the SOI Consortium website.

“As we detailed in our recent report Semiconductor Technologies: The Potential to Revolutionize U.S. Energy Productivity, semiconductors already are the leading factor behind energy efficiency gains. SOI offers a major advance in the power efficiency of electronics, and with appropriate public policy, investment and usage these semiconductor technology gains can contribute to cumulative net electricity bill savings of $800 billion through 2030 for consumers and businesses in the United States alone, as well as creating an average of 500,000 new jobs per year and reducing energy-related CO2 emissions by more than 400 million metric tons annually over the period 2010 through 2030.”

John A. “Skip” Laitner, lead report author and Director, Economic and Social Analysis, American  Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)

“UMC has been incorporating the benefits of SOI technology across multiple semiconductor applications such as MEMS, photonics, and our 65nm high-speed process portfolio. The energy efficiency of SOI adds to the attractiveness of the technology and conforms with UMC’s green initiative to provide environmentally friendly processes for our customers. We look forward to further developing SOI to provide customers with solutions that enable more innovative applications for a better and greener planet.”

W.Y. Chen, Senior Vice President, UMC

“The ‘SOI: Simply Greener’ initiative expresses the motivation and values that connect members of the SOI Consortium and foster collaboration around this energy-efficient technology. We welcome like-minded companies to join us in this meaningful work, to bring needed improvements to our industry and quality of life. The ecosystem is ready and accessible, and there is a broad space of opportunities for innovation in all areas: process; planar and 3D device architecture and optimization; digital, analog, RF, and MEMS design; EDA; IP development and optimization; heterogeneous planar and 3D integration; and services.”

Horacio Mendez, Executive Director, SOI Consortium.

“As a leader in low power design, Cadence continues to invest heavily in new technologies and methodologies to provide maximum power efficiency, now a key consideration for all designs. We are pleased to announce our end-to-end support for the SOI process within the Cadence Low Power Design Solution, thereby offering customers an integrated and low-risk path to maximizing the potential SOI benefits on their green designs.”

Dr. Chi-Ping Hsu, Senior Vice President, R&D Implementation Group, Cadence

IBM & SOI: Delivering on Customer Priorities

How IBM’s Cu-45HP ASIC leverages SOI for an overall lowering of power.

Initiatives for a smarter and greener planet are creating ubiquitous demand for higher intelligence, integration and performance at the lowest possible power. New regulations, such as Energy Star, are being contemplated for many industries.

Application and system requirements are prompting a dramatic shift in customer priorities. Power has become a prominent consideration in design of electronic components and systems. Read More

Low Power Design: Fast & Green

SOI helps create faster chips that consume less power.

Speed and area used to be the primary factors considered by chip designers. Performance requirements were established, and the power consumption required to achieve them was just another detail. In recent years, chip designers hit a wall. And sustainability moved to the forefront of industry.

Achieving higher chip speeds demanded increased power, but chips ran too hot for conventional cooling methods and drew exorbitant amounts of energy. An advanced technology known as SOI now makes new levels of chip performance and efficiency possible. SOI allows chip designers to create faster chips that are “greener” by using less power. Read More

Celebrating Over A Decade of Green

Piet Wessels has been the driving force behind NXP’s (and formerly Philips’) SOI-enabled high-voltage business ever since it first began.

Above left: An HV-SOI die. (Courtesy: NXP) Below left: With the driver ICs built on NXP’s HV-EZ SOI technology, products such as Philips’ Master PL-R Eco compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) systems require only half the energy to produce a given amount of light. (Courtesy: Royal Philips Electronics) Right: Piet Wessels, Manager, High Voltage and Power Technologies, Process Innovation, Product Introductions & Transfers (PIPIT) / Operations, NXP Semiconductors

Advanced Substrate News: 10 years ago this spring, NXP (then Philips), announced its EZ-HV SOI technology for applications in the 60 to 650V range. What sorts of products has it been used for? How effective is it in lowering power consumption?

Piet Wessels: We use EZ-HV for products in the power supply and lighting product domains. EZ-HV is ideal for use as IC process with on-chip power devices with a handling cabability up to 20W and switching controllers that need isolated high side drive capability (bridge topologies). Typical products we are using EZ-HV for are Switched Mode Power Supply (SMPS) regulators like the STARplug range, HID lamp drivers and integrated CFL lamp drivers. Read More

Innovation, Lower Leakage & Higher Performance

Analog Devices’ proprietary XF3 SOI SiGe complementary bipolar process enables them to address the trends toward reduced component cost, board area and power consumption — all while delivering unparalleled performance.

David Kress, Director of Techical Marketing, Analog Devices

Advanced Substrate News: The XF3 process is used for what sorts of products?

David Kress: The XF3 process is used to build extremely fast linear products, such as specialized RF parts — splitters, logarithmic amplifiers, modulator/demodulators. ADI uses it for very high-speed comparators for automatic test equipment (ATE) and high-speed amplifiers, as well as for building high-speed clock generators.

ASN: What is the role and how important is the use of SOI in decreasing power consumption?

DK: Reducing power consumption is a secondary consideration in choosing XF3 for ADI components. The primary consideration is that it provides the fastest available performance. Many of ADI’s XF3 products are actually toward the higher end of power consumption because high power is needed to get the necessary speed or other capability.

ASN: For a product design engineer, what are the advantages of using an SOI-based chip?

DK: There are two key aspects of SOI — low parasitic capacitance and low leakage currents. The low parasitic capacitance allows ADI to achieve the very high speeds, which is the most important factor. Low leakage currents allow the parts to run at higher power and potentially at higher temperatures, although that is not often a requirement. SOI processes also remove most causes of circuit latch-up, which simplifies circuit design and improves reliability.

ASN: Moving forward, will there be more products or processes leveraging SOI?

DK: Electronic equipment designs are always looking for faster and faster components. This drives ADI to continue to develop products with our high-speed processes, including those based on SOI. It also drives us to develop ever-faster processes, and SOI will continue to play a part in those developments.

EDN Innovation Winner

This spring, the EDN magazine Innovation of the Year in Passive Components and Sensors was awarded to ADI’s SOI-MEMS based ADXL001 Industrial Vibration Sensor.


(Courtesy: Analog Devices)

The ADXL001 is a high-bandwidth iMEMS® vibration sensor that enables better monitoring of equipment performance and reduced downtime due to unforeseen system failures on the factory floor.

The ADXL001 is built using the Analog Devices SOI MEMS sensor process. The sensor device is micromachined in-plane in the SOI device layer. Trench isolation is used to electrically isolate, but mechanically couple, the differential sensing elements. Single-crystal silicon springs suspend the structure over the handle wafer and provide resistance against acceleration forces.

According to ADI, the ADXL001 is a major advance over previous generations of accelerometers providing high performance and wide bandwidth. The part is ideal for industrial, medical, and military applications where wide bandwidth, small size, low power, and robust performance are essential. It is small enough to be easily designed into the motor control circuitry or mounted on existing factory equipment at the point-of-measurement interest.

White Goods Get Greener

According to the US Department of Energy, appliances account for about 17% of a household’s energy consumption. Major appliances like refrigerators and clothes washers and dryers are at the top of the consumption list.

With programs like Energy Star helping consumers understand that the operating cost is just as important a consideration as the price tag, manufacturers are rising to the energy consumption challenge.

For several years now, Infineon, the world market leader in semiconductor discretes and modules for power electronics, has used SOI to help product designers tackle one of the biggest energy challenges in major appliances: motor control. (For more about this SOI-based technology, see Infineon’s article in ASN#7)

Now, the energy efficiency of Infineon’s SOI-based power products is at the heart of a new joint venture with LS Industrial Systems. Announced in June of this year, the LS Power Semitech Co., Ltd. JV will focus on the development, production and marketing of energy-efficient molded power modules for major household appliances, known in the trade as white good applications.

SOI in control

The SOI-enabled CIPOS™ (Control Integrated Power System) modules are designed to enable more energy-efficient operation of such consumer appliances as washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners. The external dimensions for the RoHS-compliant package shown here are 50.4mm x 30.2mm. (Courtesy: Infineo

Infineon will provide the joint venture with licenses to IP as well as technology and process know-how on its power module family CIPOS™ (Control Integrated Power System). CIPOS power modules increase the energy efficiency and reliability of home appliance motors. For an appliance designer, this can eliminate as many as 23 discrete components compared to a design based on discrete components.

The CIPOS modules incorporate a three-phase inverter power stage with an SOI gate driver, bootstrap diodes and capacitors, and auxiliary circuitry in a compact, high-performance, fully isolated package.

The SOI-based gate driver is the critical link between the control system and the power system. The driver IC takes a logic signal output from a microcontroller chip in the control system, and provides the appropriate current and voltage to turn power devices on and off. As such, it has to be extremely robust, yet very cost-competitive.

2010 volume launch

Infineon and LS Industrial Systems indicate that the establishment of the joint venture paves the way for them to more rapidly access the promising market for energy efficient household appliances, and also for other low-power consumer and standard industrial applications.

The LS Power Semitech Co., Ltd. JV headquarters and manufacturing site is in Cheonan, south of Seoul. The parent companies say they will closely cooperate in terms of marketing, international sales, and new product developments. Mass production of the CIPOS modules begins in Cheonan in January 2010.

For LS Industrial Systems, this SOI-enabled JV is a perfect fit for its global, “Low Carbon, Green Growth” strategy.

National’s VIP50 on SOI

National Semiconductor is building products such as single, dual and quad operational amplifiers on its proprietary VIP50 SOI BiCMOS process technology.

As Greg Cestra, senior engineering manager with National Semiconductor’s Advanced Process and Technology Division told ASN, “Transistor elements in several of National Semiconductor’s advanced processes are implemented on an SOI wafer with trench isolation. This minimizes parasitic capacitances and greatly improves bandwidth-to-power ratios. The advanced isolation process allows transistors to condition signal voltages beyond the supply rails. SOI also eliminates the effects of leakage currents that limit performance at the extremely high temperatures used in a number of industrial and automotive applications.

National Semiconductor’s op amps based on its SOI-enabled VIP50 process feature dramatic improvements in accuracy, power consumption and voltage noise for industrial, medical and automotive applications, as well as small size for portable applications. EDN Magazine’s readers and editors selected National’s VIP50 process and products from a field of hundreds as analog innovation of the year in its 16th Annual EDN Innovation Awards. (Courtesy: National Semiconductor)

Energy-Efficient SoC Design Can Make A Difference

ARM now offers a combination of low-power processors, SOI libraries and power management IP.

It is often the simple actions that make the largest impact when it comes to conserving our natural resources and limiting the negative impact of human interaction on our planet. Conserving our natural and manufactured energy resources is certainly at the top of everyone’s mind.

Now, SoC designers, utilizing the inherent power efficiencies of SOI technology, can make a difference. Read More