Manuel Sellier, Product Marketing Manager at Soitec for the FD-SOI (and some other) SOI product lines has written an absolutely terrific primer entitled FD-SOI: A technology setting new standards for IoT, automotive and mobile connectivity applications. It’s in the August edition of the GSA Forum (the GSA is the Global Semiconductor Alliance).
If you know anyone who needs to quickly glean an understanding of FD-SOI that is both in-depth and broad, you’ll want to share this piece with them right away.
Before joining Soitec, Sellier was a chip designer at ST, where he gained deep experience designing FD-SOI chips. What’s more, he holds a Ph.D. in the modeling and circuit simulation of advanced MOS transistors, including FD-SOI and FinFETs. So, he really knows his stuff. But don’t worry that this might be too technical: Sellier’s writing is thoroughly accessible (and engaging!) for anyone in the industry.
He starts with the wafer history, then quickly moves on to the features from the designer’s standpoint. And he puts it all in a business perspective. I can’t recommend this piece enough – even if you think you know everything already yourself, you’re sure to learn something new.
Leti and Soitec have announced a new collaboration and five-year partnership agreement to drive the R&D of advanced engineered substrates, including SOI and beyond. This agreement brings the traditional Leti-Soitec partnership to a whole new dimension and includes the launch of a world-class prototyping hub associating equipment partners to pioneer with new materials, The Substrate Innovation Center will feature access to shared Leti-Soitec expertise around a focused pilot line. Key benefits for partners include access to early exploratory sampling and prototyping, collaborative analysis, and early learning at the substrate level, eventually leading to streamlined product viability and roadmap planning at the system level.
Leading chip makers and foundries worldwide use Soitec products to manufacture chips for consumer applications targeting performance, connectivity, and efficiency with extremely low energy consumption. Applications include smart phones, data centers, automotive, imagers, and medical and industrial equipment, but this list is always growing, along with the need for flexibility to explore new applications starting at the substrate level. At the Substrate Innovation Center, located on Leti’s campus, Leti and Soitec engineers will explore and develop innovative substrate features, expanding to new fields and applications with a special focus on 4G/5G connectivity, artificial intelligence, sensors and display, automotive, photonics, and edge computing.
“Material innovation and substrate engineering make entire new horizons possible. The Substrate Innovation Center will unleash the power of substrate R&D collaboration beyond the typical product road maps, beyond the typical constraints,” said Paul Boudre, Soitec CEO. “The Substrate Innovation Center is a one-of-a-kind opportunity open to all industry partners within the semiconductor value chain.”
Whereas a typical manufacturing facility has limited flexibility to try new solutions and cannot afford to take risks with prototyping, the mission of the Substrate Innovation Center is to become the world’s preferred hub for evaluating and designing engineered substrate solutions to address the future needs of the industry, inclusive of all the key players, from compound suppliers to product designers. Using state of the art, quality-controlled clean room facilities, and the latest industry-grade equipment and materials, Leti and Soitec engineers will conduct testing and evaluation at all levels of advanced substrate R&D.
“Leti and Soitec’s collaboration on SOI and differentiated materials, which extends back to Soitec’s launch in 1992, has produced innovative technologies that are vital to a wide range of consumer and industrial products and components,” said Emmanuel Sabonnadière, Leti CEO. “This new common hub at Leti’s campus marks the next step in this ongoing partnership. By jointly working with foundries, fabless, and system companies, we provide our partners with a strong edge for their future products.”
Before summer’s no more than a twinkle in our eyes, let’s take a moment to catch up on a key event where FD-SOI took center stage: Leti Innovation Days. French research powerhouse Leti was celebrating 50 years of innovation, so it was a real gala event.
FD-SOI and other SOI technologies were seen and heard throughout the presentations and in the exhibition spaces. But there were a couple of things that were especially interesting that I’ll cover here in ASN. In particular, a panel discussion with GF, Synopsys and Qualcomm; and the big announcement from Leti and Fraunhofer supporting continued FD-SOI development.
(There were also some great info about body biasing in FD-SOI, but we’ll save that for a future post.)
The Panel & More
A session on Micro-nano Pathfinding and the Digital Revolution featured a fascinating panel discussion on Future Applications and New Technologies. As Rajesh Pankaj from Qualcomm, Alain Mutricy from GF and Antun Domic from Synopsys discussed the prospects, FD-SOI quickly took center stage.
Here are some FD-SOI observations from GF’s Alain Mutricy:
It’s planar, so it’s not hard to design in.
It’s the only technology that can get down to 0.4V, and it has the lowest leakage/cell. That will be key for all mainstream applications (except high-end servers) for at least a decade or two.
12 FDX with forward body bias (FBB) will get 7nm FinFET performance.
They’re looking forward to broad FD-SOI adoption. It will enable the next wave of technology and mobile devices.
Synopsys’ Antun Domic noted that:
Currently, 50% of silicon area comes from just 3 or 4% of designs. FD-SOI makes design simpler, so the EDA companies are looking for it to open the door to more designs.
From a design perspective, three thresholds was standard, but that’s not enough. Place and route could stretch to 10 or 15 corners. FD-SOI simplifies tool flow and cuts mask costs. It’s less complicated than you think.
That tech session, btw, began with an excellent testimonial by Leti partner, Soitec. (Remember: the technological innovation that enabled modern SOI wafers came out of Leti and was industrialized by Soitec.) Check out the snapshot below to get an idea of all the areas that SOI-based technologies address.
Leti, Fraunhofer & FD-SOI
The big piece of news to come out of Leti Days is that Leti is teaming up with Fraunhofer to “…strengthen microelectronics innovation in France and Germany” (read the press release here). The agreement was signed by Leti CEO Marie Semeria and Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics Chairman Hubert Lakner at an official ceremony. A lively the press conference followed. Prof. Lakner emphasized that they are working on a common European roadmap, with a clear plan for collaboration on FD-SOI. Europe, he said, is a good idea, and working together, France and Germany can do a lot for industry. For FD-SOI, Leti is focused on the front-end, and Fraunhofer is working on the back-end.
Working together, they can elevate pillars like FD-SOI from the country level to the European level, noted Dr. Semeria. And that puts them in a more elevated position for EC funding initiatives such as an upcoming IPCEI – which stands for Important Project of Common European Interest.
Initially, however, the focus will be on extending CMOS and More-than-Moore technologies to enable next-generation components for applications in IoT, augmented reality, automotive, health, aeronautics and other sectors, as well as systems to support French and German industries. A second phase extending to other partners and countries is possible. We’ll keep you posted.
In closing, I’m sure you’ll all join me in extending hearty congratulations to Leti on their 50th anniversary. And here’s to their next 50 years of innovation – can you imagine what that might bring? It rather boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
This is the second part of ASN coverage of Day 2 of the recent SOI Workshop in Tokyo, which 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.
Peter Rabbeni, GlobalFoundries’ Sr. Director of 5G BizDev and Product Line Marketing focused on mmWave and why/how 5G. In his talk, Delivering on the Promise of 5G: Semiconductor Solutions for the Next Wave of Data, he pointed out that there’s not one solution for all use cases – but there is an SOI solution for all the opportunities.
You need mmWave for latency, simultaneous connectivity, energy-efficiency and mobility, he explained. mmWave addresses the trade-off between distance and data rates. In a phase array, the beam is steered, but because of atmospheric absorption, you have to do multiple beams at high frequencies.
RF-SOI technology is already found in virtually every smartphone in the world. Now, he sees two main benefits in RF-SOI (a partially depleted technology that uses “trap-rich” substrates, btw) in the move to 5G and mmWave. One is device stacking, which you can do in SOI to overcome the Johnson Limit (a tradeoff between breakdown voltage and frequency). The other comes from the benefits inherent in the substrate: high-resistivity, high-Q and isolation. It means you can have smaller arrays for each element, and fewer chips per array. That’s key: you need those smaller arrays for handsets and customer premises equipment.
Different designers are taking different approaches to RF, he notes. There are those doing FEM-centric designs, which integrate from the antenna back toward the transceiver. And then there are those that are doing integration-centric designs, which target integration from the transceiver/BB toward the antenna. The first approach is being driven by those customers with unique IP and presence in the front-end module space. The other is being driven by folks with IP and presence in the SOC space. Both will exist in some form, he contends. 45RFSOI is well aligned with the first case and focused primarily with FEM leadership performance and integration. 22FDX, on the other hand, is very well suited for transceiver/baseband ADC/DAC integration and can integrate the FEM functionality as well. Pathfinding on the FEM integration component is on-going for 22FDX.
SOI is “…the perfect solution to our needs”, said Steven Yeung, Design Manager with MIPS/Imagination Technologies in his talk, MIPS Leading Heterogenous Compute in Automotive & IP. The cost of failure is increasing he noted, citing the ISO standard 26262 for functional safety in road vehicles, and SOI “helps a lot”.
As noted in the presentation title, research powerhouse Leti sees that the Future of the Automotive Industry is Paved With SOI. Vincent Roger of Leti’s Corporate Business Development made convincing arguments as to why FD-SOI is the right solution for automotive:
you need advanced digital circuitry for all computational tasks in the automotive environment
the 3-generation node gap between automotive and consumer is closing
FD-SOI is more power efficient than planar bulk (both at 28 and 22nm) or FinFET (16nm)
it’s simpler in terms of design and IP portability than FinFET
it’s a proven solution, with better reliability and lower design costs
it addresses all performance levels and communications
it simplifies integration of control electronics for distributed sensors
Leti is actively working on getting RF capabilities in FD-SOI adopted more quickly. For example, they are developing RF models for their UTSOI-2 modeling suite for FDSOI, including back bias effects. And they’re also developing innovative basic design blocks that prove the technology validity and add new functionality.
He also sees an even bigger role for RF-SOI, the technology of choice for RF Front End Modules for connected vehicles and 5G applications. With Soitec, they’re working to keep improving existing substrates and introduce new concepts.
SOI wafer suppliers (Soitec, SEH and Simgui) are expanding capacity, said Soitec EVP Thomas Pilisczcuk. His talk, The Role of Substrates in Accelerating Mass Adoption of SOI Technologies, reviewed the various SOI substrates and partners across FD-SOI, RF-SOI, photonics, power, image sensors and more.
Soitec is launching a program called FIRST (for First Integration Ramp of SOI Toolbox) to help customers reach competitive yields fast. They are also help customers facilitate SOI integration into design and manufacturing.
There are still more talks that are now posted on the SOI Consortium website. IHS/Markit made a very interesting high-level presentation on LIDARs & Sensor Fusion ECUs Advancing ADAS Architectures Toward Automated Driving, which called for chipmakers to integrate more features. Nokia Future X Network for 5G & IoT looked at infrastructure (they use their own chipsets). ST looked at smart cities in Sensor-to-Cloud Connectivity for IoT.
Equipment makers are also eager participants in the FD-SOI ecosystem. Screen’s presentation was entitled Full Participation Within the SOI Consortium. The Applied Materials talk, Enabling SOI and IoT: An Equipment and Materials Engineering Perspective, covered how they’re working with their customers and their customers’ customers to understand the trends and enable the device roadmap.
Mark your calendars: the next workshop sponsored by the SOI Consortium will be in Shanghai this September 26th and 27th (one day is all about FD-SOI, the other about RF-SOI). You can now register or ask for an invitation: see Events on the SOI Consortium website. Last year’s Shanghai event was really dynamic and absolutely packed, so you’ll want to make sure you register early. (But if you can’t make it, you can of course read about later it in ASN!)
The FD-SOI ecosystem is strong. This was made clear at the recent Tokyo SOI Workshop, organized by the SOI Consortium. The event was spread out over two days, and most of the presentations are now posted (click here to access them). To cover the full scope of the workshop will take (at least) a couple ASN posts. So let’s start with Day 1, which was billed as the “FD-SOI Ecosystem” day.
It kicked off with a full-house for an afternoon session in the Yokohama Landmark Tower hosted by Silvaco, with presentations from some of the key players in the FD-SOI Ecosystem.
David Sutton, CEO of EDA provider Silvaco opened the session with his talk, TCAD, EDA & IP to Support FD-SOI. Silvaco has deep FD-SOI roots, having supported Lapis Semi (formerly Oki) in its first forays into the technology – and that was back in 2002! The company is on a growth run this year, having acquired four companies, including IPextreme.
FD-SOI, he said, has been shown to be cost-effective. The capacity is in place, and it’s getting design wins. Silvaco’s full suite of EDA and custom CAD tools for FD-SOI cover the complete design flow from TCAD to sign-off. Their IP is very strong, he said, especially in automotive (including CAN IP), and their partnerships with key players like IBM and NXP are long running. In fact, Silvaco commercializes IP from NXP and others.
We got some great insights from Gregg Bartlett, GlobalFoundries’ SVP of the CMOS Business Unit, in his presentation FDX (FDSOI) Goes Mainstream – Roadmap for Product Competitiveness (it’s posted – click here to download it). “It is primetime for FD-SOI,” he said, and since one technology does not fit all, they’re redefining the mainstream. GF’s first FD-SOI offering, 22FDX, was qualified in March, and 12FDX will be taping out in the second half of 2018. They’ve currently got over 80 active engagements.
FD-SOI will be strong in China, he said. GF and the Chengdu municipality recently announced they are investing more than $100 million to build a world-class FD-SOI ecosystem including multiple design centers in Chengdu and university programs across China. This will lower the barriers to entry and increase IP availability even further, he said. They’re looking to put 500 design engineers in place. Customer tape-outs of 22FDX will begin at the new fab there in 2H2018, with volume production expected to start in 2019.
He went on to drill down on FDX applications, focusing on four main areas:
mobility: application processors that need high performance, RF integration and significant power reduction
IoT: this was the target when FDX was first conceived, and it continues to be a point of significant investment by the company
RF and mmWave: for BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), WiFi, ZigBee and integrated PA’s (aka power amplifiers – where they’re seeing some impressive numbers, he said)
automotive: Grade 2 is done, and Grade 1 is underway (these are industry ratings related to reliability at the high-temperatures you get under the hood and in hotspots in the passenger compartment).
Citing a slide of customer testimonials, he concluded that the ecosystem is really starting to work, adding that they’ve got the right technology for the right applications, and it’s the right path for them to be on.
Invecas has been working on 22FDX since 2015 through a strategic partnership with GF. They’ve optimized IP and offer ASIC services, explained Bhaskar Kolla, the company’s Sr. Director of BizDev & Customer Engineering. His presentation, Invecas IP Portfolio in 22FDX is posted – click here to get it. It’s full of detail (standard cells, memories, analog & IO, and interface), so you’ll really want to check it out. The IPs are silicon proven and validated; the results are available, he said.
The foundation IPs are sponsored by GF, so they’re free to customers and cover a broad array of calibrations. They include forward and reverse body biasing (FBB and RBB) and body bias generator IP. Customers are really taking advantage of this, he said, citing as an example one that’s going for 2.5GHz by leveraging FBB.
Custom IP for analog & IO is a place they’re seeing a lot of interest, he continued, and on which they’re doing more and more work with clients. And their Interface IP is in a lot of silicon, especially for customers that are area sensitive. In fact, they’ve developed their own Interface IP demo platform in-house, from build through test and compliance checks.
In moving to FD-SOI, customers are seeing significant PPA improvements, he said. In one of the customer use cases for a high-level IoT product he cited, the customer requirements were easily achieved: cutting leakage in half, dynamic power consumption by roughly a third and area by 20%.
There’s so much technical detail on performance boosters in Laurent Grenouillet’s presentation, FD-SOI: a Low Power, High Performance Technology Scalable Down to 10nm, you really just have to look at it yourself – click here to get it. A CMOS & Memory Integration Expert at Leti, he did a quick review of 28-22-14nm, then took a deep dive into the myriad of performance boosting options for 10nm, including impressive benchmarking regarding the effectiveness of mobility boosters on FD-SOI vs. FinFET.
Here are the boosters he detailed for 28-22-14nm:
Interestingly he noted that with each node, the thickness of the insulating BOX layer of the SOI wafer scales down, and as it does, back bias efficiency improves even more.
Here’s what he then covered for 10nm (and detailed with data packed in the 20 slides that followed):
FD-SOI is the sweet spot when you need lower power, lower cost, more sensing (analog), more comm (RF), more flexibility and more energy efficiency, he concluded – and he provided powerful data to back that up.
I-fuseTM: the best OTP of Choice for FD-SOI and sub-14nm nodes was the topic of a talk by Attopsemi Technology’s Chairman, Shine Chung (you can get the ppt here). The company recently joined GF’s FDXcelerator partner program. OTP stands for one-time programmable memory, and I-fuse is different from other OTP technologies (notably NVM and e-fuses), he explained, in that it’s a non-breaking fuse with ultra-high reliability even in high-temp conditions. It’s been qualified by companies worldwide and is in volume production.
He’s a big fan of FD-SOI because it offers the best RF integration, small form factor, ULP and low cost. Want to make a cellphone as small as a watch? Then you need FD-SOI, he quipped with a tip of the hat to a Dick Tracy image. The fact that FD-SOI has a lower junction breakdown than bulk makes I-fuse the best choice for it, he said. You just program a gate as a fuse.
During breaks (on both days!), everybody was talking about the terrific Product Design Methodology presentation by Christophe Tretz, the SOI Consortium’s design guru (and longtime IBM guy). In fact, Christophe has agreed to write it up for ASN in the weeks to come, so don’t miss that. You’ll want to look at the whole presentation — click here to get it. In the meantime, here are some highlights.
He suggests designers consider an incremental approach in which FD-SOI benefits accrue. “No, you don’t have to know everything about the technology to use it,” he began (especially addressing those in smaller design teams and houses). “The ecosystem is there. Everything you need to use it is there.”
He used a number of cases to explain.
Case 1: a simple, digital SOC – you get significant power savings just by reusing existing library blocks and doing minor recompile.
Case 2: RF/mixed-signal – turnaround time is very fast (Analog Bits, for example cut leakage by 5x in a port that took just three months). FD-SOI gives analog designers a great new thing to play with for big power savings – and they learn fast.
Case 3 (= Cases 1 + 2): “complex” SOC with RF blocks – rework the RF blocks, but reuse library elements for the digital part without a lot of design effort. You get significant power savings very easily.
Case 4: a more complex SOC – in this case, you optimize or customize a few blocks in the first design pass, but then optimize/customize more blocks in subsequent design passes. It just keeps getting better and better.
Case X: a fully optimized SOC. This takes more time, but you can do parts in parallel and get dramatic results – especially if you use body biasing.
He then looked at the state of the ecosystem:
three fabs are ready
we have the tools (Synopsys, Cadence, Silvaco)
the libraries are there and ready to use
“You don’t have to learn everything to get your product out the door,” he concluded. “You don’t have to do it all at once: you can do it incrementally. Within a few months, you’ll have a nice product, and as you do new products every six months, each time you can re-use, but also tune for more improvements.”
In short: just do it!
So that’s a recap of Day 1. Next post (or posts?) I’ll recap Day 2. Stay tuned!
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.
12nm FD-SOI has now officially joined the GlobalFoundries’ roadmap, targeting intelligent, connected systems and beating 14/16nm FinFET on performance, power consumption (by 50%!) and cost (see press release here). Customer product tape-outs are expected to begin in the first half of 2019. GloFo also announced FDXcelerator™, an ecosystem designed to give 22FDX™ SoC design a boost and reduce time-to-market for its customers (press release here).
The news turned heads worldwide (hundreds of publications immediately picked up the news) – and especially in China. “We are excited about the GlobalFoundries 12FDX offering and the value it can provide to customers in China,” said Dr. Xi Wang, Director General, Academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology. “Extending the FD-SOI roadmap will enable customers in markets such as mobile, IoT, and automotive to leverage the power efficiency and performance benefits of the FDX technologies to create competitive products.”
Wayne Dai, CEO of VeriSilicon (headquartered in Shanghai but designing for the world’s biggest names in the chip biz), added, “We look forward to extending our collaboration with GlobalFoundries on their 12FDX offering and providing high-quality, low-power and cost-effective solutions to our customers for the China market. The unique benefits of FD-SOI technologies enable us to differentiate in the automotive, IoT, mobility, and consumer market segments.”
The ultra-thin FD-SOI wafers are where it all starts, and they’re ready to go in high volume, says Paul Boudre, CEO of SOI wafer leader Soitec. “We are very pleased to see a strong momentum and a very solid adoption from fabless customers in 22FDX offering,” he adds. “Now this new 12FDX offering will further expand FD-SOI market adoption. This is an amazing opportunity for our industry just in time to support a big wave of new mobile and connected applications.”
GloFo’s 12FDXTM platform, which builds on the success of its 22FDXTM offering, is designed to enable the intelligent systems of tomorrow across a range of applications, from mobile computing and 5G connectivity to artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles. Increased integration of intelligent components including wireless (RF) connectivity, non-volatile memory, and power management—all while driving ultra-low power consumption—are key 12FDX selling points that FinFETs can’t touch.
The technology also provides the industry’s widest range of dynamic voltage scaling and unmatched design flexibility via software-controlled transistors—capable of delivering peak performance when and where it is needed, while balancing static and dynamic power for the ultimate in energy efficiency.
“Some applications require the unsurpassed performance of FinFET transistors, but the vast majority of connected devices need high levels of integration and more flexibility for performance and power consumption, at costs FinFET cannot achieve,” said GLOBALFOUNDRIES CEO Sanjay Jha. “Our 22FDX and 12FDX technologies fill a gap in the industry’s roadmap by providing an alternative path for the next generation of connected intelligent systems. And with our FDX platforms, the cost of design is significantly lower, reopening the door for advanced node migration and spurring increased innovation across the ecosystem.”
Kudos came in from G. Dan Hutcheson, CEO of VLSI Research, IBS CEO Handel Jones, Linley Group Founder Linley Gwennap, Dasaradha Gude, CEO of IP/design specialists INVECAS, Leti CEO Marie Semeria and NXP VP Ron Martino (they’ve already started on 28nm FD-SOI for their i.MX line – read his superb explanations in ASN here).
Simultaneously to the 12FDX announcement, GloFo announced the FDXcelerator Partner Program. It creates an open framework under which selected Partners can integrate their products or services into a validated, plug and play catalog of design solutions. This level of integration allows customers to create high performance designs while minimizing development costs through access to a broad set of quality offerings, specific to 22FDX technology. The Partner ecosystem positions members and customers to take advantage of the broad adoption and accelerating growth of the FDX market.
Initial partners of the FDXcelerator Partner Program are: Synopsys (EDA), Cadence (EDA), INVECAS (IP and Design Solutions), VeriSilicon (ASIC), CEA Leti (services), Dreamchip (reference solutions) and Encore Semi (services). These companies have already initiated work to deliver advanced 22FDX SoC solutions and services.
Initial FDXcelerator Partners have committed a set of key offerings to the program, including:
Additional FDXcelerator members will be announced in the following months.
If you’re headed to DAC (June 5-9 in Austin,TX) and are interested in learning more about FD-SOI, there will be lots of opportunities. Here’s a quick rundown.
Synopsys (stands 149 & 361) and GlobalFoundries are hosting a dinner on Tuesday evening (7 June) at the Austin Hilton around the theme, What’s Important for IoT—Power, Performance or Integration… or All of the Above? They’ll be talking about how FD-SOI addresses these challenges. Panel members will discuss design techniques to push the envelope on low power, low leakage, burst performance and optimal cost to enable the design of innovative IoT-based products. Attendance is free, but registration is required and seating is limited. Click here to go to the registration site.
Samsung Foundry (stands 607 and 706) and partners will be doing a number of presentations on Samsung’s 28nm FD-SOI offering, 28FDS. They’ll be showcasing 28FDS wafers, offering multiple presentations by Samsung Foundry’s experts, and sharing solutions built on the 28FDS technology by their Foundry Ecosystem partners. As noted in ASN coverage of the recent SOI Consortium event in San Jose (read it here), Samsung is now in commercial production of 28FDS. They have a strong 28nm FD-SOI tape-out pipeline for 2016, and interest is rising fast.
IP Track: Minimizing SOC Power Consumption: A Top Down Design Methodology or Bottoms Up Starting With the Process Selection Problem? Panelists include Carlos Mazure (of the SOI Industry Consortium & Soitec) and Ron Martino (of NXP) Monday, June 6th from 4:00pm – 5:00pm in Ballroom G.
Variation-Aware Design at Advanced and Low-Power Processes. Panelists include Azeez Bhavnagarwala (ARM), Glen Wiedemeier (IBM), John Barth (Invecas) and Jeff Dyck (Solido). Monday, June 6th from 10:30am – 11:30am, Room: 9BC.
Presentation 9.1 Impact of Leakage & biasing on Power in 22FDX Process. By Krishnan Subramanian et al (Invecas) and Sankar Ramachandran – (Apache Design). Monday, June 6th, 3:30pm – 4:00pm, Ballroom G.
Presentation 50.4 Leveraging FDSOI through Body Bias Domain Partitioning and Bias Search. By Johannes M. Kuehn et al (Eberhard Karls Univ. Tubingen & Keio Univ.) Wednesday, June 8th, 1:30pm – 3:00pm, Room: 17AB. This presentation will be given at 2:15. (You can also get the paper from the ACM site here.)
101.12 Parametric Exploration for Energy Management Strategy Choice in 28nm UTBB FDSOI Technology. By Jorge Rodas et al (CEA-Leti Minatec & Univ. Grenoble Alpes) Work-in-Progress (WIP) poster session, Wednesday, June 8th, 6:00pm – 7:00pm, Room: Trinity St. Foyer
Stands & More
Cadence Theater (stand 43 – full schedule here)
Tuesday, June 7th
Wednesday, June 8th
Leti (stand 1818) – a driving force behind all things SOI, stop by to learn more about Silicon Impulse®, their FD-SOI platform for IoT & ultra-low-power (ULP) apps that helps start-ups, SMEs and large companies evaluate, design, prototype & move to volume (more here).
And finally, the opening keynote on Monday morning (at 9:15 in Ballroom A) will be given by NXP’s Lars Reger, CTO of their Automotive Business Unit. The topic is Revolution Ahead – What It Takes to Enable Securely Connected, Self-Driving Cars. When it comes to automotive, NXP is the original SOI pioneer, dating to back to 1999. NXP’s sold billions of SOI-based chips for high-voltage automotive applications – they’re used by virtually every carmaker on the planet (read about the early history here and here).
And now with the Freescale acquisition, NXP is full speed ahead with FD-SOI applications processors. If you missed it, you’ve got to read the recent ASN series by Ron Martino (NXP’s VP for i.MX Applications Processor and Advanced Technology Adoption). He explains why they chose 28nm FD-SOI, and exactly what it does for the i.MX 7 series (32-bit ARM v7-A core, targeting the general embedded, e-reader, medical, wearable and IoT markets) and i.MX 8 series (64-bit ARM v8-A series, targeting automotive applications, especially driver information systems, as well as high-performance general embedded and advanced graphics applications) Click here to read it now. NXP gave a demo of the I.MX 8 at FTF 2016 a few weeks ago – check out the video they posted on Twitter here.
If you go to DAC and you have a Twitter account, be sure to tweet #FDSOI and #53rdDAC – @followASN will be happy to pass it along!
The #1 take-away message from the recent FD-SOI Symposium in San Jose is that “FD-SOI is the smart path to success”. With presentations echoing that theme by virtually all the major players – including (finally!) ARM – to a packed house, it really was an epic day for the FD-SOI ecosystem. The presentations are now starting to be available on the SOI Consortium website – click here to see them (they’re not all there as of today, though, so keep checking back).
Since there’s so much to cover, we’ll break this into two parts. This is Part 1, focusing on presentations related to some of the exciting products that are hitting the market using 28nm FD-SOI. Part 2 will focus on the terrific presentations related to 22nm FD-SOI. In future posts we’ll get into the details of many of the presentations. But for now, we’ll just hit the highlights.
So back briefly to FD-SOI being smart. (A nice echo to the Soitec FD-SOI wafer manufacturing technology – SmartCutTM – that make it all possible right?) It started with the CEO of Sigma Designs (watch for their first IoT products on FD-SOI coming out soon) quipping, “FD-SOI is the poor man’s FinFET.” To which GlobalFoundries’ VP Kengeri riffed that really, “FD-SOI is the smart man’s FinFET”. And NXP VP Ron Martino, summed it up saying, “FD-SOI is the smart man’s path to success”. Yes!
Samsung now has a strong 28nm FD-SOI tape-out pipeline for 2016, and interest is rising fast, said Kelvin Low, the company’s Sr. Director of Foundry Marketing. His presentation title said it all: “28FDS – Industry’s First Mass-Produced FDSOI Technology for IoT Era, with Single Platform Benefits.” They’ve already done 12 tape-outs, are working on 10 more now for various applications: application processor, networking, STB, game, connectivity,…., and see more coming up fast and for more applications such as MCU, programmable logic, IoT and broader automotive. It is a mature technology, he emphasized, and not a niche technology. The ecosystem is growing, and there’s lots more IP ready. 28nm will be a long-lived node. Here’s the slide that summed up the current production status:
As you see, the production PDK with the RF add-on will be available this summer. Also, don’t miss the presentations by Synopsys (get it here), which has repackaged the key IP from ST for Samsung customers, Leti on back-bias (get it here), Ciena (they were the Nortel’s optical networking group) and ST (it’s chalk-full of great data on FD-SOI for RF and analog).
If you read Ṙon’s terrific posts here on ASN recently, you already know a lot about where he’s coming from. If you missed them, they are absolute must-reads: here’s Part 1 and here’s Part 2. Really – read them as soon as you’re done reading this.
As he noted in his ASN pieces, NXP’s got two important new applications processor lines coming out on 28nm FD-SOI. The latest i.MX 7 series combines ultra-low power (where they’re dynamically leveraging the full range of reverse back biasing – something you can do only with FD-SOI on thin BOX) and performance-on-demand architecture (boosted when and where it’s needed with forward back-biasing). It’s the first general purpose microprocessor family in the industry’s to incorporate both the ARM® Cortex®-A7 and the ARM Cortex-M4 cores (the series includes single and dual A7 core options). The i.MX 8 series targets highly-advanced driver information systems and other multimedia intensive embedded applications. It leverages ARM’s V8-A 64-bit architecture in a 10+ core complex that includes blocks of Cortex-A72s and Cortex-A53s.
In his San Jose presentation, Ron said that FD-SOI is all about smart architecture, integration and differentiating techniques for power efficiency and performance. And the markets for NXP’s i.MX applications processors are all about diversification, in which a significant set of building blocks will be on-chip. The IoT concept requires integration of diverse components, he said, meaning that a different set of attributes will now be leading to success. “28nm FD-SOI offers advantages that allows scaling from small power efficient processors to high performance safety critical processor,” he noted – a key part of the NXP strategy. Why not FinFET? Among other things, it would bump up the cost by 50%. Here are other parts of the comparison he showed:
For NXP, FD-SOI provides the ideal path, leading to extensions of microcontrollers with advanced memory. FD-SOI improves SER* by up to 100x, so it’s an especially good choice when it comes to automotive security. Back-biasing – another big plus – he calls it “critical and compelling”. The icing on the cake? “There’s so much we can do with analog and memory,” he said. “Our engineers are so excited!”
You know how using mapping apps on your smartphone kills your battery? Well now there’s hope. Sony’s getting some super impressive results with their new GPS using 28nm FD-SOI technology. These GPS are operated at 0.6V, and cut power to 10x (!) less than what it was in the previous generation (which was already boasting the industry’s lowest power consumption when it was announced back in 2013).
In San Jose, Sony Senior Manager Kenichi Nakano presented, “Low Power GPS design with RF circuit by the FDSOI 28nm”, proclaiming with a smile, “I love FD-SOI, too!” All the tests are good and the chip is production ready, he said. In fact, they’ve been shipping samples since March.
As of this writing, his presentation is not yet posted. But til it is, if you’re interested in the background of this chip, you can check out the presentation he gave in Tokyo in 2015 here.
SERDES (Serializer/Deserializer) IP is central to many modern SOC designs, providing a high-speed interface for a broad range of applications from storage to display. It’s also used in high-speed data communications, where it’s had a bad rep for pulling a huge amount of power in data centers. But Analog Bits has been revolutionizing SERDES IP by drastically cutting the power. Now, with a port to 28nm FD-SOI, they’re claiming the industry’s lowest power.
In his presentation, “A Case Study of Half Power SERDES in FDSOI”, EVP Mahesh Tirupattur described FD-SOI as a new canvas for chip design engineers. The company designs parts for multiple markets and multiple protocols. When they got a request to port from bulk to 28nm FD-SOI, they did it in record time of just a few months, getting power down to 1/3 with no extra mask steps. Plus, they found designing in FD-SOI to be cheaper and easier than FinFET, which of course implies a faster time to market. “The fabs were very helpful,” he said. “I’m pleased and honored to be part of this ecosystem.”
Listening to a presentation by Stanford professor Boris Murmann gets you a stunning 30,000 foot view of the industry through an amazing analog lens. He’s lead numerous explorations into the far reaches of analog and RF in FD-SOI, and concludes that the technology offers significant benefits toward addressing the needs of: ultra low-power “fog” computing for IoT (it’s the next big thing – see a good Forbes article on it here); densely integrated, low-power analog interfaces; universal radios; and ultra high-speed ADC. Get his symposium presentation, “Mixed-Signal Design Innovations in FD-SOI Technology” here.
So, it was a great day in San Jose for 28nm FD-SOI. Next in part 2, we’ll look at why it was also an epic day for 22nm FD-SOI. Be sure to keep checking back at the SOI Consortium website, as more presentations will become available in the days to come.
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*SER = Soft Error Rates – soft errors occur when alpha or neutron particles hit memory cells and change their state, giving an incorrect read. These particles can either come from cosmic rays, or when radioactive atoms are released into the chips as materials decay.
Three of the world’s More-than-Moore and SOI technology development powerhouses have signed a comprehensive agreement for ongoing collaboration and cooperation in developing new technologies for the emerging IoT market. SITRI of Shanghai, and CEA-Leti and Minatec of Grenoble will work together to accelerate the adoption of their latest technologies and create a global innovation ecosystem for emerging IoT applications (read the press release here).
The framework agreement broadly covers all joint areas of research at SITRI and Leti, including MEMS and sensors, 5G RF front ends, ultra-low power computing and communication, RF-SOI and FD-SOI.
In fact, the trio cites SOI as a key technology in the development of both Moore’s Law and “More than Moore” solutions for the IC industry, as it brings cost, performance, power and integration advantages to the areas of ICs, RF, MEMS, and communications.
“We are confident that this collaboration will be positive for China’s electronics industry, as well as for the Grenoble region’s growing SOI technology ecosystem,” said MINATEC Director Jean-Charles Guibert.
Adds Marie-Noëlle Semeria, CEO of Leti, “Through this partnership, SITRI, MINATEC, CEA-Leti and the entire ecosystem will be able to promote and extend this ecosystem to SOI partners worldwide, and provide SOI solutions to the emerging Chinese IoT market.”
“MINATEC is a world-class international innovation center that fosters a wide range of leading-edge IoT technology research and development which is home to CEA-Leti, the renowned international research institute in microelectronics,” said Charles Yang, President of SITRI. “Through this agreement and SITRI’s established platform for ‘More than Moore’ commercialization, we can accelerate the adoption of these latest technologies and create a global innovation ecosystem for emerging IoT applications.”