“GlobalFoundries, TowerJazz, TSMC and UMC are expanding or bringing up RF SOI processes in 300mm fabs in an apparent race to garner the first wave of RF business for 5G, the next-generation wireless standard,” writes Mark Lapedus of Semiconductor Engineering. His recent piece, RF-SOI Wars Begin, explains why demand across the supply chain is currently tight.
Rest assured, the supply situation is being addressed fast. By next year, 300mm-based RF-SOI manufacturing (vs. 200mm) will increase from 5% to 20%. But with insatiable end-user demand for greater throughput, overall RF-SOI device demand is increasing in the double-digit range, so 200mm-based manufacturing is also expanding fast.
SOI wafer manufacturer Soitec has 70% of the RF-SOI wafer market share. The other RF-SOI wafer manufacturers – Shin-Etsu, GlobalWafers and Simgui – all use Soitec’s RF-SOI wafer manufacturing technology.
This is an excellent, comprehensive piece, that clearly explains the complexities of the markets, the devices, the manufacturing and the supply chain. It’s a highly recommended read.
BTW, the SOI Consortium is organizing a 4G/5G SOI supply chain workshop during Semicon West (July ’18). Sign up or get more information on that under the Events tab here on the consortium website.
Of course, here at ASN, we’ve been covering RF-SOI for over a decade. You can use our RF-SOI tag to access most of the pieces we’ve done over the years.
Now in its third year, the 2015 IEEE S3S Conference has evolved into the premier venue for sharing the latest and most important findings in the areas of process integration, advanced materials & materials processing, and device and circuit design for SOI, 3D and low-voltage microelectronics. World-class leading experts in their fields will come to this year’s S3S Conference to present, discuss and debate the most recent breakthroughs in their research.
This year’s program includes:
The conference also features several events tailored for socialization and peer-to-peer discussions, such as the welcome reception, the cookout and the interactive Poster & Reception Session which is a great place to meet new colleagues and learn and exchange insights on technical topics. Enjoy a light snack and a beverage of your choice while meandering around to meet and discuss technical issues with long-time colleagues and make connections with new and influential experts and decision makers in your field.
Take time to visit the local attractions of Sonoma County. Sonoma is well known for outdoor recreation, spas, golf, night life, shopping, culinary activities, arts and music and wineries. It is truly my pleasure to serve as the General Chair of the 2015 Conference. —Bruce Doris
Download the Advance Program
Find all the details about the conference on our website: s3sconference
Click here to go directly to the IEEE S3S Conference registration page.
Click here for hotel information. To be sure of getting a room at the special conference rate book before 18 September 2015.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Sonoma Wine Country, One Doubletree Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
October 5th thru 8th, 2015
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Join the IEEE S3S Conference group on LinkedIn to follow the news — click here or search on LinkedIn for IEEE S3S.
There’s been a significant uptick in patents related to fully-depleted SOI, according to a new report by KnowMade (click here to get the report brochure). The report looks at both FD-SOI and SOI-FinFETs (both of which are fully depleted technologies). More than 740 patent families have been published to date, of which planar FD-SOI accounts for 340 families. Following a rush of activity about 10 years ago there was a dip, but activity over the last couple of years has once again been very strong.
The report provides a comprehensive overview, essential patent data for fully depleted SOI, plus a searchable database with links. It identifies more than 30 patent holders of FD-SOI related intellectual property, providing in-depth analysis of key technology segments and key players. “The major proponents of the FD-SOI technology have strong IP arms, but other unexpected players known as not supporting FDSOI [including TSMC and Intel] are also present,” notes the report.
For the first time ever, Semicon Europa will be held in Grenoble this year, and FD-SOI will be a major part of it (website link here). With more than 5000 visitors and 350 exhibitors, Semicon Europa is the greatest annual event for the European microelectronics industry.
And Grenoble can fairly be considered the epicenter of all things SOI: it really took off when Leti researcher Michel Bruel invented the Smart CutTM technology there for manufacturing SOI wafers in the early 1990’s. That was then spun off to Soitec up the road, and the rest is history in the making. In fact, Forbes recently recognized Grenoble as one of the Top 5 Most Inventive Cities in the world.
So from now on, Semicon Europa will alternate between Dresden, Germany (home to GlobalFoundries’ fabs) and Grenoble, France.
Happily this is coinciding with an industry upturn, so Semi’s signed up 25% more exhibitors than last year. In addition to the exhibition floor, the 3-day event will also host over 300 speakers at over 70 conferences and more than 100 hours of technology sessions and presentations. This is no longer your quiet Euro-equipment show – this is a dynamic happening covering the entire supply chain, with a big emphasis on innovation and applications.
For those attending the popular Fab Managers Forum, the opening keynote will be made by Soitec founder and CEO André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé. In addition to heading up the world’s largest SOI wafer manufacturer, Dr. Auberton-Hervé is a member of the EC’s High-Level Group on Key Enabling Technologies (KET) and of the Electronic Leaders Group (ELG), which is in charge of implementing the European Union’s “10/100/20” strategy (they’re looking to leverage €10 Billion Public/Private Funding for a €100 Billion investment from industry for manufacturing to capture 20% of the semiconductor market value for Europe by 2020). As we reported here in ASN earlier this year, SOI-based apps are an important part of all this.
In the abstract for his Semicon presentation, Dr. Auberton-Hervé indicates he’ll describe the ELG implementation plan focused on demand accelerators (IoT, mobile convergence), supply chain strengthening, and an enhanced framework development across Europe. The Pilot Lines initiative was started in 2012, and industry is ready to invest now, he notes, with 5 pilot lines in progress, and numerous projects submitted. He’ll highlight how manufacturing performance is key in the European semiconductor industry, from materials and equipment to components design and wafer production.
FD-SOI at the Semicon Europa Low Power Conference
The key Semicon Europa event for the FD-SOI ecosystem will be The Low Power Conference, which features a cast of heavy hitters (abstracts for the talks and speaker bios are available here.) It kicks off on Tuesday afternoon (7 September) with a market analysis by ST COO Jean-Marc Chery, exploring solutions for mobile to servers and IoT.
Next up, Manfred Horstmann, GlobalFoundries’ Director of Products and Integration in Dresden will focus on SOCs for at 28/20nm. He’s using the term “ET-SOI” with BB (back bias) options. The ET stands for Extremely Thin SOI – it’s the term IBM first used for FD-SOI, but the two terms are now used seemingly interchangeably. As Horstmann notes in the conference abstract, “Being a planar device, ET-SOI devices allow the continuation of previous nodes manufacturing and design experience. Vt-tunability and low GIDL currents are a clear advantage of ET-SOI BB devices for SoC applications, too.” He’ll conclude with an outlook on FinFETs.
Thomas Skotnicki Fellow and Director of Advanced Devices at STMicroelectronics and all around giant of FD-SOI (and in particular ST’s flavor: ultra-thin box and body aka UTBB) has what sounds like a groundbreaking IoT talk. Beyond FD-SOI, he’ll cover how the technology will be used in conjunction with energy harvesting, storage, power management, sensors and MEMS. He’s got a low-power mobile app example to show us, too.
David Jacquet of ST will address design, showing among other things how FD-SOI opens the way to new opportunities like Wide DVFS and dynamic leakage management. He’ll be detailing the key IP for implementing those technologies. (He’s got a great video on FD-SOI design techniques, btw – click here for more on that.)
Soitec CTO Carlos Mazure will cover the range of substrate solutions for devices across the mobile space, including RF, FD-SOI and SOI FinFET.
Wednesday morning, the conference continues with more from ST, and a must-see talk on FD-SOI and IoT costs and projections by Handel Jones of IBS. (If you’ve missed his excellent pieces here in ASN, you’ll find them all here.)
The rest of the afternoon will focus on design tools and applications, with talks from Cadence, ANSYS, Docea, HP (two talks from them), Ericsson, Schneider and Sorin (medical devices).
ASN will be there – follow us on Twitter for live coverage – and we’ll bring you more details of the key talks in the weeks to come.
Power and 3DI
A couple of other last notes if you’re planning a trip to Semicon Europa. On Wednesday afternoon (8 September), a 3D Integration Session (details here) will cover recent updates on 3D circuit and process technologies. Following an introduction by Ionut Radu, Soitec Senior Scientist, speakers from TSMC, imec, Leti, EV Group, Entegris, Fujifilm and Rockwood will address the status of 3D circuits, including 3D TSV and monolithic 3D integration schemes, manufacturing challenges and readiness for application specific systems.
Another terrific Semicon Europa event for the advanced substrates community will be the Power Electronics Conference: the ultimate path to CO2 reduction. Topics cover GaN, GaN-on-Si, SiC and SOI. Renault, Leti, Schneider Electric, ST, Infineon, Yole, Fairchild, and Siltronic will be presenting, as well as Arnaud Rigny of Soitec, who’ll will give a talk on smart substrates for smart power. This all takes place on Wednesday and Thursday, the 8th and 9th of September. Details can be found here.
Hope to see you in Grenoble!
Revelations by semiwiki’s Eric Esteve that TSMC has filed a significant FD-SOI patent has generated a rush of speculation in the press and online forums. In his piece When TSMC advocates FD-SOI…, Esteve noted that TSMC’s patent for “Planar compatible FDSOI Design Architecture” (granted 14 May 2013) heralded the advantages as follows: “Devices formed on SOI substrates offer many advantages over their bulk counterparts, including absence of reverse body effect, absence of latch-up, soft-error immunity, and elimination of junction capacitance typically encountered in bulk silicon devices. SOI technology therefore enables higher speed performance, higher packing density, and reduced power consumption.”
In a subsequent article in Electronics Weekly entitled TSMC Developing FD-SOI, David Manners concluded, “Clearly all mobile IC houses are looking at FD-SOI as an option because of its lower power potential. The fact that TSMC is developing the technology suggests that a customer or customers have enquired about using FD-SOI…”.
A new book entitled Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI) Technology, Manufacture and Applications (1st Edition) features contributions by experts at Soitec, GF, TSMC, Leti and more.
Billed as “a complete review of this rapidly growing high-speed, low-power semiconductor technology,” the book covers the entire SOI spectrum, from Moore to More than Moore. It goes into SOI wafer technology, electrical properties, modeling, PD-SOI, FD-SOI, FinFETs and junctionless transistors, RF, ultralow-power, photonics, memory, power and MEMS. (See Table of Contents here.) This book should be a central resource for those working in the semiconductor industry, for circuit design engineers, and for academics, as well as for electrical engineers in the automotive and consumer electronics sectors.
Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI) Technology, Manufacture and Applications is published by Woodhead Publishing, and is also available in print and ebook forms from major online retailers such as Amazon, Elsevier and Barnes & Noble. It was compiled and edited by Oleg Kononchuk, chief scientist at Soitec, France, and Bich-Yen Nguyen, a senior fellow at Soitec, USA.
“At 14nm FD-SOI is much cheaper, 30-40% cheaper, than Intel’s technology,” Asen Asenov told David Manners in a recent Electronics Weekly post (see full post here). Asenov is CEO and Founder of Gold Standard Simulations (GSS). The subject of the post was how TSMC has turned to GSS for statistical analysis tools. Professor Asenov is a fan of ST’s FD-SOI, noted Manners. The main challenge is building the ecosystem, he concluded.
If you say “IP” in the chip business, everyone thinks of cores and design. But in fact, the importance of intellectual property for chips can extend right down to the substrate level.
Engineered, advanced wafer substrates open new doors for designers. For example, Soitec recently announcement that we are licensing some of our Smart Stacking™ generic bonding IP related to back-side illumination (BSI) in image sensors to TSMC. This is a clear testament to the value of IP starting at the substrate level. But in fact, TSMC is not the first company licensing our portfolio for BSI: ST took a license for BSI a few years ago.
Soitec is known throughout the industry for our Smart CutTM technology, the enabler of the silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafer revolution. Most of today’s industry-leading SOI wafers destined for chip manufacturing are made by wafer suppliers using the Smart Cut layer transfer technology. The Smart Cut technology is also behind the development of new families of standard and custom engineered wafers.
In fact, Soitec’s IP portfolio extends to over 3000 patents covering over 600 inventions, and every year, we add about 350 more patents. This gives us what is arguably the most complete advanced substrate engineering portfolio in the world.
So when speaking of Soitec’s expertise, we might think first of SOI wafers, but in fact, such IP is generic. It can be used as building blocks in leading-edge microelectronic products, applied to an array of materials covering a wide realm of applications.
For example, Smart Cut™ technology is now being leveraged by Sumitomo Electric to produce GaN substrates for high-performance LED lighting applications. Following the announcement of last year, Sumitomo is now industrializing the product and investing in Smart Cut technology.
In the case of Soitec’s Smart Stacking™ generic bonding technology, one of the earliest applications was indeed BSI image sensors, to help manufacturers to deliver increased sensitivity and smaller pixel size. But Smart Stacking will also be leveraged to dramatically improve the performance of RF products, opening new doors to future RF and 3D-integration applications.
One example of how effective our IP policy is came about in 1997 when we contracted with Shin-Etsu Handotai Co., Ltd (SEH) of Japan for SOI manufacturing using our Smart Cut technology. The manufacturing agreement helped establish SOI products made with Smart Cut technology as the global standard.
Last year, Soitec and SEH (which is the world leader in the manufacturing of silicon wafers) announced a Smart Cut™ licensing extension and expanded technology cooperation agreement. The new partnership includes an extended 10-year licensing agreement between the two companies and establishes a new level of joint technology cooperation. It will facilitate the development and wafer supply of SOI wafers to meet major market opportunities such as SOI for RF devices, FinFETs on SOI and FD-SOI.
The agreement expands the scope of the partnership between Soitec and SEH, including cross-licensing Smart Cut related patents between the two companies. SEH will now also be able to extend its Smart Cut manufacturing capabilities to other materials, a trend commonly referred to as Silicon on Anything or SOA (any material on top of which there is a thin film of plain silicon), thereby further expanding the scope of applications.
Soitec’s expertise also extends to the domain of III-V epitaxy, which is leveraged in substrates for applications like RF, power, and lighting.
Beyond microelectronics, we are leveraging and expanding our innovation portfolio in energy markets. For example, earlier this year we announced the industry’s first four-junction solar cell for concentrator photovoltaic systems. We leverage both our proprietary semiconductor-bonding (Smart Stacking™) and layer-transfer (Smart Cut™) technologies to successfully stack non-lattice-matched materials while also raising the possibility of re-using expensive materials. These cells have recently reached efficiency of 44.7%, setting the world record.
The Soitec IP portfolio now represents over 20 years of successful innovation at the substrate level. We invest around 10% of our revenue in R&D to develop and perfect breakthrough materials technologies. Our R&D teams work closely with manufacturers, as well as with laboratories such as CEA-Leti and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems. We also take full advantage of the high-tech resources available in and around all of our locations worldwide.
In short, the innovations found in our substrate engineering IP portfolio are at the heart of how we lead, grow and maximize value through incremental and breakthrough solutions for the electronics and energy industries.