Record-breaking Attendance at SOI Consortium’s 2019 China Events

The recent SOI Consortium’s FD-SOI and RF-SOI events (Shanghai, September 2019) were record-breakers, with attendance approaching 1000 over the two days. The event was extensively covered in the China tech press, which often cited the opportunities SOI-based technologies offer for technology leadership.

Indeed, as SOI Consortium Executive Co-Director Carlos Mazure noted in a follow-up press conference, the SOI technology drivers dovetail perfectly with the semiconductor industry’s top growth drivers*: IoT, 5G/smartphones, AI/ML and automotive. Here are the takeaways he cited from the China events:

  • SOI for AIoT, consumer and automotive:
    • the FD-SOI ecosystem is in place (substrate supply, foundry offering, EDA and design IP).
    • The 1st wave of adoption is ramping at NXP, STMicroelectronics, Sony, Rockchip, Synaptics, Renesas and more
    • Fast followers are lining up, with the number of tape-outs increasing at Samsung and GlobalFoundries
  • SOI for 5G:
    • development is driven by the need for low cost, low latency and high data throughput
    • the SOI ecosystem for 4G/5G technologies is in place with a strong market pull
    • RF-SOI, the reference FEM 4G technology, will extend its benefits to sub-6Ghz: low power consumption, high linearity, low insertion loss, co-integration of RF components.
    • 5G mmWave requirements are addressed by multiple SOI platforms (RF-SOI, PD-SOI and FD-SOI) enabling integrated analog mixed signal solutions at low power consumption.

Two RF-SOI luminaries were honored at a post-event dinner sponsored by China wafer purveyor, Simgui. Jim Cable, Chairman and CTO of pSemi, a Murata Company, and Herb Huang, CEO and GM of Ninbo Semiconductor received awards for their contributions to the advancement of RF-SOI (more on this later).

There’s an enormous amount to tell you about from the conferences, so this will be the first round-up post of several.

Gitae Jeong, SVP, Samsung Electronics (Courtesy: VeriSilicon & live.photoplus.cn)

But briefly, in his talk entitled, “IoT Platform with FDSOI”, the main points made by Gitae Jeong, SVP, Samsung Electronics were:

  • 28FDS is fully mature. It has the same design rules as bulk, has an integrated security key, a wide range of packaging options for IoT, and a design guide that makes back biasing easier and simpler with complete IP solutions.
  • 18FDS development is on track for this year, with 14nm BEOL and a 35% increase in performance, a 55% decrease in power (!) and a 35% decrease in area compared to 28nm.
  • 1st products are now shipping with eMRAM on 28FDS with yields over 90%, operating temperatures have been extended to 125C for automotive, and a 1Gb version has been demo’d.
  • 1st 5G products mmWave products on 28FDS are now available
Americo Lemos, SVP, GlobalFoundries (Courtesy: VeriSilicon & live.photoplus.cn)

In his talk, “Leading Industry Innovation by Differentiated SOI-based Solutions”, key takeaways made by
Americo Lemos, SVP, GlobalFoundries included:

  • They have leadership in RF-SOI, with over 50 billion chips shipped
  • 22FDX (FD-SOI) is in production. Last year they had 14 tape-outs, this year they had 26 – half of which are for companies in China. By the end of this year they’ll have shipped 100 million good dies to customers, marking the full transition from ramp to volume.
  • In the ecosystem, they’ve got 285 IP titles from providers worldwide, with more announcements coming soon.
  • Work continues on 12FDX – more to come on this.
  • Edge AI is the next growth engine for IoT, combining vision + voice + audio, with China coming in strongly with ultra-low-power design for home connectivity, industrial, personal and medical applications.

The RF-SOI day was lead off by the reading a letter from Dr. Xi Wang. The leading proponent of SOI in China for over a decade as head of the Shanghai Academy of Sciences, he’s now the country’s Vice-Minister of Science & Technology. Until this year, he’s always had the first keynote at the SOI Consortium events in China, but this time he was in a meeting with the VP of Russia. However, his warm letter confirmed his support for the SOI ecosystem, especially the role of SOI-based technologies for China in the 5G era.

Danni Song, China Mobile Project Leader. (Courtesy: Simgui & live.photoplus.cn)

This was followed by a talk by the ever popular and insightful Project Leader Danni Song of China Mobile, the largest of the operators there. China issued 5G licenses in May 2019 as the country gears up for 5G commerce. By next year, 5G will be deployed in all cities above the prefecture level. For now, it’s all about sub-6GHz. The challenge, she noted, is in power consumption, which is 2-3x that of 4G in base stations and devices. They see two development spaces: one for consumer and one for verticals, and have teamed up with Sprint on a 5GS (S being for Superior) module. They released a basic modem chip and dongle in June, and a smart chip is coming. She suggests people consult the China Mobile white paper on 5GS for more info.

We’ll cover the many other presentations over the next few weeks – so stay tuned!

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*as cited in a 2019 CEO survey by KPMG/GSA.

About the author

Adele Hars editor