Although the basic principles of Silicon-On- Insulator (SOI) technology are simple, the ramifications are far reaching. The use of SOI reduces parasitic capacitance around embedded circuit elements, reduces leakage currents, and enhances isolation between circuit elements.
These improvements affect switching speed, threshold voltage, power consumption, noise, and the minimum space needed between components embedded in the Integrated Circuit (IC). How these various benefits are used is for the IC designer to decide, based upon the various parametric trade-offs required to achieve optimal performance for each specific application. Although SOI has already established a strong foothold in production of high performance, power-hungry, microprocessors, it also offers equally strong benefits for other very different applications. Over the coming years SOI will be contributing major performance advances in RF, Analog, Very-Low-Power, High-Voltage, and Harsh Environments.
As of 2004, the semiconductor industry was already consuming more than 600,000 SOI wafers a year. Over the next five years, we expect to see this demand triple. SOI is not just an alternative to other emerging technology enhancements, such as Hi-K, SiGe, and Strained Silicon, but is more an umbrella environment within which all these others can function to help the semiconductor industry continue its quest for ever greater performance and functionality •