Reaching the Next Level

With the debut of SOI-based processors for the next generation of gaming consoles, advanced substrates move to a new level: mainstream consumer electronics. The first is Microsoft’s Xbox® 360, featuring a customized IBM 90-nm SOI PowerPC. With the coming of spring, we’ll see Sony’s Playstation® 3, based on the IBM/Sony/Toshiba 90-nm SOI Cell processor.

From the tremendous demands of digital content, scalable applications are emerging for both the high end (in applications such as home servers and TV sets) and low-power applications, especially for mobile markets. The new year will be very important for the industry. The ramp-up of Sony’s Nagasaki 300mm fab confirms the launch of high-volume, SOI-based manufacturing in Japan.

To help extend SOI to the fabless world and to those with wide product arrays, companies like Soisic are offering turnkey design kits. Others are developing technologies that should make fabricating SOI chips significantly lower in cost than their bulk counterparts. For example, new embedded memory technologies such as Innovative Silicon’s Z-RAM achieve five times the density of current embedded SRAM, yet require no new materials or extra mask steps. Fully depleted SOI is being leveraged by leading companies in the development of “personal generators”: ultra-low power chips that can run off ubiquitous energy sources such as body heat or natural illumination.

Advanced substrates are a strategic building block for this new era, a key to the balance of speed and power. Leaders in high performance know it. Now leaders in consumer electronics are leveraging it, too. You can’t afford not to.

Dr. André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé,
Chairman and CEO
The Soitec Group