Growth Opportunities for SOI
Posted date : Dec 3, 2008

VLSI sees innovation and differentiation fueling the SOI market.

The recent chaos in the world economy is creating one of the most severe downturns in the semiconductor industry. However, Moore’s Law will not be abandoned during this downturn; in fact, it will be clung to all the more desperately as competitors try to eliminate one another in these dire conditions. So as we continue to see aggressive device scaling, expect to hear SOI mentioned more often.

SOI will become more appealing with each new node shrink. With its unique ability to create less complicated isolation structures on a circuit, the well-reputed low power/high speed advantages of SOI will be looked to as a solution to many potential problems.

Expansion in transitions

Most recently, the SOI market experienced significant expansion in 2005 and 2006, when we saw 90nm and 65nm silicon shipments (SOI and non-SOI) increase in market share of total silicon from 4% in 2004 to 30% in 2006.

The years 2008 and 2009 represent a major transition period to 45nm, and we anticipate a similar trend as in previous years. Following the development of the overall semiconductor food chain, we expect 2008 and 2009 to be sluggish for the SOI market, hovering in the mid-$500M range. However, strong growth, fueled by advanced nodes, should continue over the long term, with the total market reaching approximately $800M by 2012.

Solid foundation

Current major users IBM, AMD, and Freescale provide a solid foundation for others to enter the market as more chipmakers look towards SOI for answers. In addition to the aforementioned users, we believe that the recently established SOI Consortium will play a critical role in bringing up fabless and foundry suppliers on SOI knowledge.

With the continued shrinks and the increasing importance of mobile computing and communication applications, power management will become an even more important feature that will differentiate products. It will require extensive innovation at multiple levels throughout the supply chain requiring extensive R&D and a very advanced Science 2.0 approach to bring successful results. The SOI technology will play an important role in the mobile device power and performance management.

Figure 1. SOI Market History and Forecast (Courtesy VLSI, November 2008)

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