Just a month into 2016 and we already have a raft of FD-SOI news from Samsung, GlobalFoundries, NXP/Freescale, Renesas and more. And of course RF-SOI continues ever stronger.
Here’s a quick update of what we’ve been seeing, starting with news from the recent SOI Consortium forum in Tokyo. Many of the presentations are now available on the SOI Consortium website – but keep checking back for more.
Samsung: 28nm FD-SOI hits maturity, mass production starts 1Q2016
Yongjoo Jeon, Principal Engineer in SEC Foundry marketing, Samsung, gave a talk entitled, The industry’s first mass-produced FDSOI technology for the IoT era, with single design platform benefits.
Here are his key messages with respect to 28nm FD-SOI:
For other key Samsung slides showing data on their success in manufacturability, check out EETimes.
GlobalFoundries: RF-SOI for 5G, FD-SOI Customers Engaged
Subramani Kengeri, VP of Global Design Solutions at GlobalFoundries talked about their 22nm FD-SOI, in his presentation Enabling SoC Innovations with 22FDXTM. He indicated that they’ve got over 40 customers engaged on it. Key points they’re hitting on that make them bullish on their prospects include:
For more on how GF see 22FDX as very well-positioned for IoT, see their Foundry Files blog. There’s also a really good piece in EEJournal by Byron Moyer entitled, A Non-FinFET Path to 10 nm – GlobalFoundries’ FD-SOI Alternative.
GF is of course also a dominant RF-SOI player, as seen in RFSOI: Defining the RF-Digital Boundary for 5G by Peter Rabbeni, Sr. Director RF Product Marketing and Business Development, GlobalFoundries. The presentation, which is available on the SOI Consortium website, notes that, “Significant R&D has been done in evaluating the application of SOI to 5G architectures, with very positive results,” so that, “SOI holds great promise in delivering on the key requirements of 5G systems.” (For an overview of GF’s RF-SOI position, see RF-SOI is IoT’s Future, and the Future in Bright on their Foundry Files blog.)
Renesas: in FD-SOI production at 65nm this year
Shiro Kamohara, Chief Engineer, Renesas Electronics Corp., lead off the presentations with Ultralow-Voltage Design and Technology of Silicon-on-Thin-Buried-Oxide (SOTB) CMOS for Highly Energy Efficient Electronics in IoT Era.
A Nikkei article reported from the conference that Renesas will be in mass production of 65nm FD-SOI – which they call Silicon-on-Thin-Box, or SOTB – for IoT products this year. Renesas reports the move cuts power to a tenth of what they’d seen in bulk. You can see the original article in Japanese here or a translated version here.
Soitec: wafers ready for mass adoption
In the presentation Substrate maturity and readiness in large volume to support mass adoption of ULP FDSOI platforms, Soitec Sr. VP of Digital Electronics Group Christophe Maleville, Senior Vice President, Digital Electronics BU provided data on every conceivable aspect of SOI wafers for FD-SOI and RF-SOI. He explained adaptations in the company’s Smart CutTM manufacturing technology that achieve astonishing levels of uniformity and thickness – or rather, thinness! With new metrology, they can predict and protect against variability in devices. And they are now producing FD-SOI wafers for 28nm processes with uniformity of +/- 1 atomic layer.
ST: making the case
For analog/RF, RF/mmW and mixed-signal/high-speed designers, Andreia Cathelin, Senior Member of Technical Staff at STMicroelectronics explained how and why FD-SOI makes their lives easier. Her presentation, FDSOI Technology Advantages for Analog/RF and Mixed-Signal Designs drills down to the technical for these folks.
Pietro Maestri, ST’s RF Product Line Director presented ST H9SOI_FEM: 0.13µm RF-SOI Technology for Front End Module Integration. (BTW, we had an excellent high-level article by ST when H9SOI_FEM was first announced, describing the challenges faced by designers of smartphone front-end modules (FEMs) and how their H9SOI_FEM solves them – read it here.)
For anyone wondering about the status of FD-SOI following the just-announced company reorganization, COO Jean-Marc Chery told EETimes’ Peter Clarke that they remain fully committed to the technology. As noted in the article (read the whole thing here), “Chery emphasized that, following the announcement of ST’s withdrawal from STB and home gateway markets and of a proposed redeployment of 600 engineers, the company is now focused on automotive and Internet of Things applications and that therefore FDSOI is a core manufacturing process. Indeed it could be argued that moving engineers familiar with FDSOI from the STB group into MCUs and automotive will help to proliferate the technology through the company.”
NXP/Freescale: Loving FD-SOI
In another recent EETimes article, Peter Clark reported from the NXP “Smarter World Tour” that the newly merged NXP-Freescale is very bullish on FD-SOI (see the full article here).
He cites Goeff Lees, the GM for the MCU part of the merged businesses, who especially likes 28nm FD-SOI for IoT and MCUs. Ticking off the reasons, he lists energy efficiency, cost, analog support, security, temperature control and lower leakage current. In fact, he says, “I believe all MCU vendors could move to FD-SOI.” Wow.
So stay tuned – here at ASN we’ve got contributions from NXP/Freescale, Synopsys, GlobalFoundries, Surecore and more at the top of the 2016 queue. Yes, it’s going to be a good year.
Renesas Electronics will be coming out with chips built on 65nm FD-SOI technology by spring of 2016, reports EETimes Japan (see article in Japanese here, or a version translated by Google here). Although the story dates from February 2015, it has barely been covered in the English-speaking press. (FD-SOI expert Ali Khakifirooz talked about it briefly in a SemiWiki piece last month entitled FDSOI As a Multi-Node Platform, which you can read here). The chips can operate down to 0.4V, and consume 1/10th of the power of previous generations.
If you’ve been reading ASN right along, you might already know about it, from our piece last year on the Semicon Europa (’14) Low Power Conference (read it here). At the time, Renesas talked about a demo they’d done of a 32 bit CPU on 65nm SOTB (aka Silicon on Thin Box, which is a planar FD-SOI technology) with back bias that operates eternally (!!) with ambient indoor light.
Renesas has roots with Hitachi, which was an early SOTB/FD-SOI innovator. In fact, here at ASN we had a Hitachi/Renesas piece in ASN on SOTB back in 2006 (read it here), highlighting work they’d presented at IEDM in 2004. Then in 2010, Dr. Sugii, who’s a very highly respected researcher, wrote in ASN advocating SOTB for older nodes (read that here). So this has been in the works for a while. Does this not put these companies in an incredibly strong position for IoT?
There’s no need to wait – Hitachi’s SOTB solution also benefits today’s mainstream low-power nodes.
Hitachi’s Hybrid Silicon-On-Thin-Box (SOTB)-Bulk technology offers many benefits for low-power system-on-chips (SOCs) at 45nm – and even at 65nm. There is no reason to wait for 22nm to start taking advantage of them.
The four most significant reasons to change to this solution now rather than later are that hybrid SOTB:
1. cuts power and leakage in half
2. gets threshold voltage (Vt) and variability under control
3. is fully compatible with current bulk design is easy to manufacture.
4. is easy to manufacture. Read More