Since the beginning of the year, there’s been a steady stream of excellent news around Samsung Foundry’s 28FDS, their highly successful 28nm FD-SOI offering. Let’s take a look at what’s been happening, as things do seem to be accelerating. By way of reminder, they announced the industry’s first eMRAM (embedded MagnetoResistive RAM) testchip tape-out milestone on 28FDS in September 2017 (you can read the press release here) – which was just a year after they had announced mass production of 28FDS process technology.
At the end of 2018, Arm announced the industry’s first Embedded MRAM (eMRAM) compiler IP built on Samsung Foundry’s 28FDS process technology.
Follow that with this announcement at the beginning of 2019: Soitec Expands Collaboration with Samsung Foundry on FD-SOI Wafer Supply. The two companies announced that Samsung had secured a high-volume supply of FD-SOI technology to meet industry’s current and future demands especially in consumer, IoT and automotive applications.
In March came two more big announcements. First: Samsung Electronics Starts Commercial Shipment of eMRAM Product Based on 28nm FD-SOI Process. As they noted in the PR, “Samsung’s 28FDS-based eMRAM solution offers unprecedented power and speed advantages with lower cost. Since eMRAM does not require an erase cycle before writing data, its writing speed is approximately a thousand times faster than eFlash. Also, eMRAM uses lower voltages than eFlash, and does not consume electric power when in power-off mode, resulting in great power efficiency.”
Hard on the heals of that came the news that Arm and Samsung Announce IP Platform including eMRAM for 18nm FD-SOI.
At the SOI Consortium’s Silicon Valley Symposium in April, Tim Dry (he’s Samsung’s Director of Foundry Marketing for Edge and End Point), gave a terrific presentation. Entitled Samsung’s FDS with MRAM: Enabling Today’s Innovative Low Power Endpoint Products, it details the company’s FDSOI roadmap for the IoT Endpoint Platform (and yes, you can download in its entirety).
Then in May at the big Samsung Foundry Forum in Silicon Valley, Arm, in collaboration with Samsung Foundry, Cadence, and Sondrel, demonstrated the first 28nm FD-SOI eMRAM IoT test chip and development board. The Musca-S1 test chip demonstrates a new choice in SoC design for IoT solutions, said Arm. (Sondrel, btw, is Europe’s largest independent IC design consultancy.)
In parallel, Cadence announced: Cadence Custom/AMS Flow Certified for Samsung 28nm FD-SOI Process Technology. Especially aimed at digitally-assisted analog designs, what’s new here is that the Cadence custom and analog/mixed-signal IC design flow is now Samsung Foundry certified for 28FDS. Samsung’s 28FDS PDK techfile is Mixed-Signal OpenAccess ready, enabling customers to deploy OpenAccess-integrated, fully interoperable Virtuoso-Innovus implementation flows.
For its part, at its Foundry Forum, Samsung unveiled extensions of the company’s FD-SOI (FDS) process and eMRAM together with an expanded set of state-of-the-art package solutions. They indicated that the development of the successor to the 28FDS process, 18FDS, and eMRAM with 1Gb capacity will be finished this year.
And finally, companies like NXP are shipping exciting new products fabbed on Samsung’s 28FDS. Ron Martino, VP & GM of NXP’s i.MX Application Processor Product Line covered key products in his presentation at the SOI Consortium’s Silicon Valley Symposium (see our coverage here). Among them: the i.MX7ULP for long battery life with 2D & 3D graphics for wearables and portables in consumer and industrial applications; the i.MX 8 and 8X subsystems for automotive and industrial applications; and the i.MX RT series of “cross-over” processors. The i.MX RT ULP (real-time, ultra-low-power) series, which Martino says is the “new normal”, deals with a high number of sensor inputs. The i.MX RT 1100 MCUs, which have been qualified for automotive and industrial applications, are breaking the gigahertz performance barrier.
In July, linuxgizmos.com reported that, “In June, NXP began volume shipments of its super power-efficient i.MX7 ULP, which it announced in 2017. The SoC is billed as the most power-efficient processor on the market that also includes a 3D GPU. […] the ULP version includes a 3D graphics capable Vivante GC7000.” (Vivante, btw, is a VeriSilicon company, which is an SOI Consortium member and a leading proponent of FD-SOI design and IP in China and worldwide.)
This is leading to some really nice wins for NXP. For example, they’ve got Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service (AVS) leveraging the i.MX RT crossover processor, enabling developers to quickly and easily add Alexa voice assistant capabilities to their products. The RT series has rapidly been expanded, with versions for voice-controlled devices and offline face and expression recognition capabilities for smart home, commercial and industrial devices.
Also announced this summer: NXP and Microsoft Bring Microsoft Azure Sphere Security to the Intelligent Edge with a New Energy-Efficient Processor. That collaboration includes development of a new crossover applications processor in NXP’s i.MX 8 series integrating Microsoft’s Azure Sphere security architecture and Pluton Security Subsystem. Their customers “will be able to harness the high-performance and energy efficiency of NXP’s i.MX 8 applications processors combined with Microsoft’s unequaled security and assurance provided by Azure Sphere certified chips”.
As Martino concluded in his presentation, “The future of embedded processing [is] enabled by FD-SOI.” And Samsung Foundry’s FD-SOI offerings are clearly a massive enabler of that future.
Per Arm, the industry’s first eMRAM compiler IP is now on Samsung’s 28nm FD-SOI technology. The announcement was made in a post by Kelvin Low, VP Marketing for ARM’s Physical Design Group (read it here). He said that ARM has successfully completed their first eMRAM IP test chip tapeout. The Arm eMRAM compiler IP will be available from 4Q 2018 for lead partners.
Samsung Foundry’s 28nm FD-SOI process technology is called 28FDS. eMRAM (which stands for embedded MagnetoResistive RAM) is a novel non-volatile memory (NVM) option positioned to replace incumbent NVM eFLASH, which has hit its limits in terms of speed, power, and scalability.
Arm’s new eMRAM compiler IP gives Samsung’s 28FDS customers the flexibility to scale their memory needs based on the complexity of various use-cases, explains Low. “What drives the cost-effectiveness of this compiler IP is that eMRAM can be integrated with as few as three additional masks, while eFlash requires greater than 12 additional masks at 40nm and below,” he says. “Also, the eMRAM compiler can generate instances to replace Flash, Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EEPROM) and slow SRAM/data buffer memories with a single non-volatile fast memory – particularly suited for cost- and power- sensitive IoT applications.”
At the SOI Consortium’s 2017 Silicon Valley Symposium, Arm said that they were stepping up their support of FD-SOI (read about that here) – and clearly they are! At that event, Arm VP Ron Moore gave a great presentation, which is freely available on our website: Low Power IP: Essential Ingredients for IoT Opportunities.
Samsung, btw, has been offering 28FDS for about three years now. (ASN did a 3-part interview with Kelvin Low back in 2015 when he was a senior director of marketing for Samsung Foundry. It’s still a useful read – you can get it here.) As of last fall, Samsung said it had taped out more than 40 products for various customers. And at the SOI Consortium’s 2018 Silicon Valley Symposium, Hong Hoa, SVP said they’d already taped out another 20 this year (read about that here).
Samsung says the write speed of their eMRAM is 1000x faster than eFlash. They actually announced the industry’s first eMRAM testchip tape-out milestone on 28FDS in September 2017 (you can read the press release here). They also did an eMRAM test chip with NXP. (BTW, Samsung has a really nice video explaining their eMRAM offering – you can see it above or on YouTube here.)
As noted in ASN’s Silicon Valley 2018 symposium coverage, the basic PDK for the Samsung 18nm FD-SOI process (18FDS) will be available in September 2018, with full production slated for fall of 2019. It will deliver a 24% increase in performance, a 38% decrease in power, and a 35% decrease in area for logic. RF for the 18FDS platform will be ready by the end of this year, and eMRAM beginning in 2019.
Good news: there are far fewer bigoted extremists out there when it comes to FD-SOI vs. FinFETs. People want the best technology for their application. It’s that simple. That’s a key piece of news from the updated survey by Dan Hutcheson, CEO of VLSI Research, which he presented in the afternoon session of the SOI Consortium’s 2018 SOI Symposium in Silicon Valley
The afternoon then featured presentations by foundry partners, which I’ll cover here.
Also in the afternoon were presentations by wafer-maker Simgui, some innovative start-ups leveraging FD-SOI for custom SoCs and the final panel discussion. I’ll cover those in Part 3 of this series.
BTW, if somehow you missed my coverage of the morning sessions about very cool new products and projects from NXP, Sony, Audi, Airbus and Andes Technology, be sure to click here to read it.
The presentations are starting to be posted on the SOI Consortium Events page – but some won’t be. Either way, I’ll cover them here.
A couple years ago at the annual SOI Symposium in Silicon Valley, Dan Hutcheson presented results of a survey he did (ASN covered it – you can still read about it here). At the 2018 event, he presented an update, which is now posted. You can get it here.
The FD-SOI roadmap and IP availability are no longer issues for decision makers, he found. The 14nm branch – do you go FinFET or FD-SOI? – is gone. “Fins and FD are complementary,” he observed. Most people said they’d consider using both and running two roadmaps, choosing whichever technology is appropriate to a given design.
From a transistor viewpoint, the top reasons to choose FD-SOI is that it’s better for analog and has lower leakage/parastics. It’s perceived as better for complex, high mixed-signal SoCs, and especially for RF and sensor integration. In fact, people see RF as the new mixed-signal, wherein FD-SOI is uniquely positioned for 5G and mmWave.
From a business viewpoint, FD-SOI is perceived to have real advantages. In particular, FD-SOI wins when it comes to keeping down design costs, manufacturing costs and time-to-market. IoT is still the hottest target market for FD-SOI, to which he adds high growth expected in automotive and medical.
With 20 tape-outs in 2018, Samsung is seeing an acceleration in its FD-SOI business. “The trend is healthy,” said Hong Hoa, SVP of the company’s foundry business. FD-SOI, he continued, is on a “differentiation path.”
Samsung’s 28nm FD-SOI process, called 28FDS is at full maturity with very strong yields. They’re seeing more customers and a wider range of applications. The design infrastructure, silicon-verified IP and methodologies are also all mature. They have optimal implementation and verification guidelines for body bias design, a body bias memory usage guide, and a body bias generator integration guide. The process supports Grade 1 automotive, and will be qualified for Grade 2 in a few weeks.
FD-SOI, Hoa reminded the audience, offers superior RF performance compared to both planar bulk and 14nm FinFET. The Samsung strategy is to first provide a base for for the FD-SOI process, then add RF and eMRAM. The base for 28nm was done in 2016; they added RF in 2017 and eMRAM this year.
The Samsung platform for IoT applications integrates both RF and eMRAM to support multi-function needs in a single platform. Lead customers are already working with eMRAM in their designs, he added. (BTW, Samsung has a really nice video explaining their eMRAM offering – you can see it on YouTube here.)
The basic PDK for the Samsung 18nm FD-SOI process (18FDS) will be available in September 2018, with full production slated for fall of 2019. It will deliver a 24% increase in performance, a 38% decrease in power, and a 35% decrease in area for logic. RF for the 18FDSplatform will be ready by the end of this year, and eMRAM beginning in 2019.
With design wins from 36 customers underway, 12 of which are taping out in 22FDX (GF’s 22nm FD-SOI process) this year, the market has validated FDX for differentiation, said GF SVP Dr. Bami Bastani. And indeed, designers are using it for a wide array of applications across North America, Europe, Asia/Pacific and Japan.
Customers in the North America are designing in 22FDX for NB-IoT, industrial, RF/analog, mobile, network switches and cryptocurrency applications. In Europe, it’s more or less the same plus automotive/mmWave, optical transmission, wireless BTS and AI/ML. In Asia Pacific/Japan the mix is similar to Europe.
Bastani sees the three big enablers as the the strengths of the roadmap, the ecosystem and multi-sourcing from Dresden and Chengdu (where they’re already equipping the cleanrooms). He also tipped his hat in acknowledgment to the partnership with FD-SOI wafer supplier Soitec, noting that they have gone the extra mile to match GF’s requirements.
So that was the first part of a great afternoon. As mentioned above, my next post (part 3) will cover a very informative presentation by wafer-maker Simgui on the markets in China, plus talks by some innovative start-ups leveraging FD-SOI for custom SoCs and the final panel discussion.
“The ecosystem is ready. The focus is now on applications and products.” And with those words, SOI Consortium Executive Director Carlos Mazure opened the annual Silicon Valley SOI Symposium. As promised, the day was packed with presentations about products on FD-SOI – some from big players like NXP and Sony, some from names new to the FD-SOI ecosystem like Audi and Airbus, and some from start-ups just getting into the game.
The event got excellent coverage in EETimes/EDN – including in their editions across the globe in China, Japan, Taiwan, India and more. Samsung, GF Ramp FD-SOI, heralded the headlines.
It was a full day of excellent presentations. In this post, I’ll chronicle the morning presentations. The next post(s) will cover the afternoon session. Note that as of this writing, the ppts are not yet posted on the SOI Consortium website, but many will be. Keep checking back under the Events tab, and look under “past Events”.
As semiwiki noted a few years back, Andes Technology is “…the biggest microprocessor IP company you’ve never heard of.” Based in Taiwan, Mediatek is one of their big customers; they’ve got a strong client base across Asia/Pacific, and are now making inroads into North America. Last year they announced with GF their 32-bit CPU IP cores had been implemented on GF’s 22FDX® FD-SOI technology.
In his symposium keynote, CEO Frankwell Lin said that in the test chip they’re doing with GF and Invecus, they’re seeing a 70% power savings compared with what they’d gotten in 28ULP. Their newest products are the N25 32bit and NX25 64bit RISC-V based cores, and in July they’ll announce a core that runs on Linux.
“With FD-SOI we’re enabling the future of embedded processing,” the always-quotable (and keynote speaker) NXP VP/GM Ron Martino told us. NXP’s i.MX7ULP, i.MX8, i.MX8X and i.MXRT are all FD-SOI based. They all share fundamental building blocks, so NXP can build platforms, scale and re-use IP. “It’s better than any technology I’ve worked on in my 30 years in the industry,” he said.
They’re seeing much higher performance with on-chip flash. And the RT “crossover” processor boasts 3x higher computing performance than today’s competing MCUs. This is going to be critical for edge computing going forward, to which end NXP is working very closely with foundry partner Samsung.
FD-SOI is not just helpful for the logic part of these chips – memory technologies also share in the benefits. They get much higher performance with on-chip flash. Leakage is cut by a factor of ten with biasing techniques, and the enhancements mean that memory can operate at very low voltages.
NXP is increasingly sophisticated with how they use body biasing, applying high-granularity techniques to independent domains in different parts of the chips. Getting sub-0.6 Vmin delivers value at multiple levels: on battery life, on total system cost, and on system enablement. Invest in body biasing if you want to get leadership results, advised Martino.
Edge computing – including machine learning and neural networks for things like image classification – is a big target, he continued. At the last CES they did a proof-of-concept “foodnet” where two appliances talked to each other without having to go to the cloud. In that case it was an i.MX8 in a fridge and an i.MXRT in a microwave, but he explained that the same concept can be applied to a car for driver awareness, where you don’t want to take the extra time for or don’t have a connection to the cloud.
iMX and FD-SOI enable scalable solutions, he concluded.
What’s a metal-bending company doing talking about electrons? asked Audi Project Manager Dr. Andre Blum. And why SOI? Well, for Audi, he said, SOI stands for Solutions, Opportunities and Innovation.
Audi is working on the various levels of autonomous driving, and they want it to be without design limitations. That means being able to hide sensors wherever they’re needed. They’ll create a cocoon around the car for the best driver experience. He showed a fun video Audi’s made to illustrate their concept – it’s the Invisible Man video, which you can check out on YouTube.
But those new architectures can’t up the power budget (think heat): rather they need to cut power drastically while increasing performance. And with FD-SOI, they see an opportunity to do just that, he said, while integrating the sensors.
Audi is one of 25 partners in a heavily funded (>100 million Euros) brand new EU Horizon 2020 program called Ocean12 (lead by Soitec). The launch was only May 1st 2018 (so as of today it doesn’t even have a website yet), and it will run for about 4 years. It is described by ECSEL (a public-private entity that puts together the big EU research projects) as an “opportunity to carry European autonomous driving further with FDSOI technology up to 12nm node”. One to watch!
For Airbus, it’s all about increased connectivity and communications that are trusted and secure, said company expert Olivier Notebaert. Since their chip runs are low, NRE – non-recurring engineering costs – are very important; and they need flexible systems.
SOI has a long history in aerospace – in fact that’s originally where it got its start, since it can handle radiation and is immune to latch-up. Notebaert says that even for Airbus, IoT is their future. The developments they pioneer will be part of it.
Airbus is a partner in the EU Horizon 2020 DAHLIA project – which stands for Deep sub-micron microprocessor for spAce rad-Hard appLIcation Asic. The project is, “…developing a Very High Performance microprocessor System on Chip (SoC) based on STMicroelectonics European 28nm FDSOI technology with multi-core ARM processors for real-time applications, eFPGA for flexibility and key European IPs, enabling faster and cost-efficient development of products for multiple space application domains. The performance is expected to be 20 to 40 times the performance of the existing SoC for space.”
According to another recent presentation, DAHLIA is prototyping an FPGA this year that will be in production in 2019.
For Sony GM Kenichi Nakano, FD-SOI has big potential for low-power products. And he should know. Sony has been an FD-SOI pioneer, using it as the basis for GPS chips that are now in a growing number of cool products, especially watches. They’re getting good feedback from the market and see good opportunities across a diversified global customer base, he said. Their CXD5603, for example, is the lowest power GNSS (GPS) chip worldwide. In mass production since 2015, it is now dominating world wearable markets like trackers — such the popular Amazfit line.
Running through their various FD-SOI based GPS offerings, he noted that the GPS is a pretty simple chip. But now customers are asking for more, like for it to work in the water (where a GPS typically doesn’t). So Sony has partnered with triathalon teams and are seeing good results.
With success, of course, comes greater demands: for greater accuracy, for more precise positioning in motion, for increased height accuracy, for even lower power – and Sony is meeting these demands with FD-SOI, in solutions like the new CXD5602. The CXD5602 product configuration covers audio/video/communications: key factors in IoT. A camera version is releasing this summer, as are main and extension boards. An LTE module will be released at the end of 2018.
And now they’re using those FD-SOI chips in audio applications. You’ll find it in the Xperia™ Ear Duo, he said. The MWC press release noted that Xperia Ear Duo “… is driven by Sony’s ultra-low power consuming “CXD5602” chip and a sophisticated multi-sensor platform, the “Daily Assist” feature will recognize time, location and activities to offer relevant information throughout the day – reminding you what time your next meeting is when you reach the office or narrating the latest news headlines.”
Also in that PR, Hiroshi Ito,Deputy Head of Smart Product Business Group at Sony Mobile Communications, said, “Ear Duo is the first wireless headset to deliver a breakthrough Dual Listening experience – the ability to hear music and notifications simultaneously with sounds from the world around you.” The highly anticipated wireless “open-ear” stereo headset started rolling out to select markets in Spring 2018. There’s a great info page with video here.
So that’s what we heard in the morning. My next post (or posts?) will cover the afternoon. That includes Dan Hutcheson’s excellent talk updating his FD-SOI survey, presentations from Samsung, Globalfoundries and Simgui, plus some from very cool start-ups, and the final panel presentation.
Synopsys’ custom design platform has been certified by Samsung Electronics for its 28FDS (FD-SOI) process technology. The certified Synopsys custom design platform includes HSPICE® golden-accuracy circuit simulation, Custom Compiler™ visually-assisted layout automation, StarRC™ gold-standard parasitic extraction and IC Validator scalable physical signoff. The Synopsys custom design platform provides improved custom and mixed-signal design productivity for Samsung 28FDS users designing for various low power required applications such as IoT, connectivity, mobile computing and automotive. (Read the full press release here.)
“Samsung Foundry’s certification of Synopsys’ custom design platform is important to our mutual customers developing complex designs,” said Bijan Kiani, vice president of product marketing at Synopsys. “Through close collaboration, we have delivered a certified custom tool suite and accompanying iPDK to enable our mutual customers to improve their custom layout and circuit simulation productivity.”
Custom Compiler’s user-guided symbolic editing technology accelerates 28FDS device placement. It includes interactive custom routing technology that can quickly create DRC-correct routing, thus reducing late-stage physical signoff iterations. The combination of placement and routing assistants in the Custom Compiler solution cuts 28FDS layout effort by up to 30 percent. Custom Compiler support for these advanced features is provided through a jointly developed 28FDS PDK in the industry-standard interoperable (iPDK) format.
“Samsung Foundry’s 28FDS delivers lower design cost, lower total power and better analog performance, making it suitable especially for low power driven applications such as IoT and connectivity,” said Jaehong Park, senior vice president of the Foundry Design Team at Samsung Electronics. “We worked with Synopsys to certify Synopsys’ custom design platform for our 28FDS process technology to enable our customers to accelerate their custom design development.”
Day 2 of the recent SOI Workshop in Tokyo was dedicated to the “Convergence of IoT, Automotive through Connectivity”. Many of the presentations are now posted and freely available – click here to see the full list.
It was a really full day, so the recap in this post covers about half of the Day 2 presentations. My next post will cover the rest of them. (In case you missed it, Day 1 was covered in my previous post – you can read it here.)
Another Sony GPS Win!
The day kicked off with a talk by Sony GM Kenichi Nakano, entitled Sony Semiconductor Low-Power IoT Solution. He reminded the audience that Sony started looking at FD-SOI in 2013, and announced at ISSCC last year (the paper’s available from the IEEE – click here). Power, he said, is everything.
And that low-power GPS in Casio’s latest Pro Trek Smart watch, the WSD-F20? It’s based on Sony’s new CXD5602 – and that’s on FD-SOI, to which they give largely give credit for the >75% reduction in power from the previous generation.
Samsung: Surf’s Up!
FD-SOI is mature, and they’re ready to surf it, said Principle Designer at Samsung Foundry Marketing, Yongjoo Jeon. But, he added, they’ll continue to evolve it.
Covering a wide range of applications, he sees FD-SOI as a key in the 4th industrial revolution. In terms of power/performance, the “…excellent short channel effect enables better performance and lower power than bulk technology.” And, “Body bias enhances further performance [FBB – forward body bias] and power reduction [RBB – reverse body bias].”
That provides some unique benefits, he pointed out.
in automotive, it’s safety: the physical dielectric isolation is almost free from SER (soft error rate)
for analog/RF, the long channel gain is more significant with excellent noise immunity
for every application, lower doping enhances variation immunity
Samsung reached high yield (defect density D0<0.2) very quickly, and ramped rapidly to mass production (which is where they are with NXP as of Q1/17). This, he said, shows the maturity of their 28FDS FD-SOI technology.
Then he turned to design. Samsung (which does btw, offer Design Services) has an IP portfolio that is wide and deep, with a strong, well-established reference flow, supported by both Cadence and Synopsys.
In terms of RF, 28FDS has better fT than 28nm bulk. The physical isolation of the SOI structures enables a “no guard ring” approach, and specific RF offerings include LDMOS for PAs (power amplifiers). Samsung is supporting a new mm-Wave Pcell, which will be added in the V1.1 PDK.
Samsung is also adding eMRAM (embedded magnetoresistive RAM – it’s already yielding at 60%), as they see 28nm is probably the last node for eflash. “We’re very proud of these technologies,” he said.
Samsung’s next generation of FD-SOI will be 18nm, which provides a 20% increase in performance, a 40% decrease in power, and a 30% reduction in logic area.
Cadence EDA & IP Update
FD-SOI enablement usually means PDKs and tech files, noted Jonathon Smith, Director of Strategic Alliances at Cadence. But for deep benefits, you need to work with the foundries on characterizing libraries, and that’s just what Cadence is doing with both Samsung and GlobalFoundries, he said.
He gave a very frank and interesting talk entitled Enabling an Interconnected Digital World: Cadence EDA & IP Update. IoT, he noted, will include a lot of mixed-signal and complex packaging. Customers need modular reference flows, and they want flexibility and multiple foundry nodes. For FD-SOI, Cadence has been working on PDK enablement, tool readiness and design tools for several years. There is one database for both digital and analog.
For Samsung’s 28FDS, everything from logic synthesis to sign-off and analog tools are certified. In fact Cadence recently announced its custom/analog tools and full-flow digital and signoff tools have achieved Samsung certification for the PDK and foundation library (see the press release here).
For GlobalFoundries 22FDX, Cadence is certified across the entire design flow, and the reference flows are downloadable.
In terms of IP, he acknowledged that what Cadence has is not very extensive, so they are working with both partners and competitors. However, he did point out that their Tensilica IP for automotive is gaining traction: it is used in the Dreamchip ADAS chip fabbed on GF’s 22FDX, for example.
Wait, There’s More!
Day 2 in Tokyo was really packed with excellent presentations – too much for just one post. See Part 2 of my Day 2 coverage for highlights from Leti, GlobalFoundries, Soitec, MIPS/Imagination and more.
Big News: Samsung has officially revealed that their next FD-SOI node is 18nm. The announcement was made at the recent Samsung Foundry Forum, which showcased a number of new technologies that the company says will help enable the development of new devices connecting consumers in entirely new ways. (You can read the full press release here.)
Samsung also announced new features for its 28nm FD-SOI offering, which is called 28FDS. Noting that it is well suited for IoT applications, Samsung said it will gradually expand its 28FDS technology into a broader platform offering by incorporating RF and eMRAM(embedded Magnetic RAM) options.
18FDS is the next generation node on Samsung’s FD-SOI roadmap with enhanced PPA (Power/Performance/Area).
The FD-SOI news was part of an announcement covering Samsung’s newest process technology roadmap.
“The ubiquitous nature of smart, connected machines and everyday consumer devices signals the beginning of the next industrial revolution,” said Jong Shik Yoon, Executive Vice President of the Foundry Business at Samsung Electronics. “To successfully compete in today’s fast-paced business environment, our customers need a foundry partner with a comprehensive roadmap at the advanced process nodes to achieve their business goals and objectives.”
ARM is stepping up its effort to support the FD-SOI ecosystem. “Yes, we’re back,” confirmed Ron Moore, VP of ARM’s physical design group. This and much more good news came out of the recent FD-SOI Symposium organized in Silicon Valley by the SOI Consortium.
The full-day Symposium played to a packed room, and was followed the next day by a full-day design tutorial. Though it was a Silicon Valley event, people flew in from all over the world to be there. (BTW, these symposia and tutorials will also be offered in Japan in June, and Shanghai in the fall). I’ll cover the Silicon Valley FD-SOI design tutorial (which was excellent, btw) in a separate post.
Most of the presentations are now posted on the SOI Consortium website. Here in this ASN post, I’ll touch on some of the highlights of the day. Then in upcoming posts I’ll cover the presentations from Samsung and GlobalFoundries.
If you’re designing in FD-SOI, we’ll help: that was the key message from ARM’s Ron Moore during the panel discussion at the end of the day. Earlier that morning, he’d given an excellent presentation entitled Low-Power IP: Essential Ingredients for IoT Opportunities.
CAGR for most IoT units is roughly 50%, he said, counting home (1.6B units by 2020), city (1.8B), industrial (0.6B) and automotive (1.1B). Compare that to the 2.8B smart phones – which he sees as a remote control and display device. The key differentiator for IoT is that 90% of the time the chip is idle, so you really don’t want leakage.
FD-SOI, he said, gives you a silicon platform that’s highly controllable, enables ultra-low power devices, and is really good with RF. ARM’s worked with Samsung’s 28FDS FD-SOI offering comparing libraries on bulk and FDSOI, for example, and came up with some impressive figures (see the picture below).
The foundry partners and wafer providers are in place. So now ARM is asking about which subsystems are needed to fuel FD-SOI adoption. Ron recognizes that the ARM IP portal doesn’t yet have anything posted for FD-SOI, but they know they need to do it. He called on the SOI Consortium to help with IoT reference designs and silicon proof points.
In the Q&A, audience member John Chen (VP of Technology and Foundry Management at NVIDIA) asked about FD-SOI and low-cost manufacturing of IoT chips. Moore replied that we should be integrating functionality and charging a premium for IoT chips – this is not about your 25-cent chip, he quipped.
Geoff Lees, SVP & GM of NXP’s Microcontroller business gave a terrific talk on their new i.MX 7 and 8 chips on 28nm FD-SOI. (And Rick Merritt gave it great coverage in EETimes – see NXP Shows First FD-SOI Chips.)
NXP’s been sampling the i.MX 7 ULP to customers over the last six months, the i.MX 8QM is ramping, and the i.MX 8QXP, 8Q and 8DX are enroute. Each of these chips is optimized for specific applications using biasing. A majority of the design of each chip is hard re-use, and the subsystems can be lifted and dropped right into the next chip in the series. Power consumption and leakage are a tiny fraction of what they’d had been in previous generations. Ultra low power (aka ULP) is heading to new levels, he says.
With FD-SOI, it’s easy to optimize at multiple points: in the chip design phase, in the production phase and in the use phase. They can meet a wide range of use cases, precisely targeting for power usage. FD-SOI makes it a win-win: it’s a very cost effective way to work for NXP, plus their customers today need that broader range of functionality from each chip.
Geoff tipped his hat to contributions made here by Professor Boris Murmann of Stanford, who’s driving mixed signal and RF into new areas, enabling high-performance analog and RF integration. (Folks attending the FD-SOI tutorial the next day had the good fortune to learn directly from Professor Murmann.)
Finally, he cited something recently pointed out by Soitec (they’re the SOI wafer folks) Chief Scientist Bich-Yen Nguyen: if half your chip is analog and/or RF, she’s observed, the future is very bright indeed for FD-SOI.
Briefly, here are some more highlights.
Synopsys: John Koeter, VP of the Marketing Solutions group showed slides of what they’ve done in terms of IP for Samsung and GlobalFoundries’ FD-SOI offerings. But there’s a lot they’ve done with partners he couldn’t show because it’s not public. In terms of tools and flows, it’s all straightforward.
Dreamchip: Designing their new chip in 22nm FD-SOI was 2.5x less expensive than designing it in FinFET would have been, said COO Jens Benndoorf in his presentation, New Computer Vision Processor Chip Design for Automotive ADAS CNN Applications in 22nm FDSOI. One application for these chips (which taped out in January) will be “digital mirroring”: replacing sideview mirrors with screens. Why hasn’t this been done before? Because LED flickering really messes with sensor readings – but they’ve mastered that with algorithms. The chip will also be used for 360o top view cameras and pedestrian detection. They’re using Arteris IP for the onchip networking, and implemented forward body bias (FBB). The reference platform they created for licensing has generated lots of interest in the automotive supply chain, he said.
Greenwaves: CEO Loic Lietar talked about the high performance, ultra-low power IoT applications processor they’re porting from bulk to FDSOI with a budget of just three million euros. The RISC-V chip leverages an open source architecture (which he says customers love) and targets smart city, smart factory, security and safety applications. As such, it needs to wake up very fast using just microwatts of power – a perfect match for body biasing in FD-SOI.
Leti: In her talk about roadmaps, CEO Marie-Noelle Semeria said the main two drivers they’re seeing in the move to FD-SOI are #1: low power (a customer making chips for hearing aids can cut power by 8x using body biasing, for example) and #2: RF (with Ft and Fmax performance that “…will be hard for FinFET to achieve”). Leti knows how to pull in all kinds of boosters, and is finding that RF performance is still excellent at the 10/7nm node. They’ve developed a low-power IoT platform with IP available for licensing. Other recent FD-SOI breakthroughs by Leti include: demonstration of a 5G mmW 60GHz transceiver developed with ST; the first 300mm Qbit, opening the door to quantum computing; a photodiode opening the door to a light-controlled SRAM; and a new 3D memory architecture leveraging their CoolCubeTM that they’re working on with Stanford.
IBS: CEO Handel Jones predicts that there “will be war in the year to come” at the 22nm node, as all the big foundries take aim. FD-SOI is the best technology for RF, ULP and AMS, and there’s a huge market for it. He also said China made the right decision to support FD-SOI, and will come out ahead in 5G.
The day ended with a lively panel discussion (moderated by yours truly) featuring experts from ARM, GF, Invecas, Soitec, Synopsys, Verisilicon and Sankalp. IP availability was a big theme, but generally there was agreement that while some gaps still exist, they’re being filled: lack of IP is no longer an issue. Soitec VP Christophe Maleville confirmed that the wafers for FD-SOI are readily available and that they’re seeing excellent yields.
All in all, it was another really good day for FD-SOI in Silicon Valley.