The Democratization of Advanced Substrates

New tools, new ideas and new approaches are expanding SOI and other advanced substrates to a broader applications base.

Having established a strong foothold in high-end logic applications, the SOI revolution is now spreading to a far wider range of applications.

Just consider this issue of ASN.

In our MarketPlace, we see that SOI-based chips now account for over one third of the 300mm logic market.

We see our GuestSpot contributor ARM talking about bringing the “intrinsic benefits of SOI” to the huge, mainstream ASIC market. Thanks to seamless integration of SOI physical IP with today’s EDA tools, the ASIC community can seamlessly leverage SOI benefits – whether they’re scaling or not.

In analog applications, companies like Infineon and TI are leading the way, using SOI to cost-effectively link the “Real World” of temperature, speed, light, sound and more, with the controllers of the digital world. This can make an enormous impact on the embedded, industrial and automotive worlds – which in turn can help make the real world more energy-efficient and user-friendly.

The innovators are reaping both the rewards and the awards. For the third year in a row, the J.J. Ebers Award for “…outstanding technical contributions to electron devices” goes to an SOI pioneer. Chartered’s Fab 7 took Semiconductor International’s Top Fab spot, and Innovative Silicon was the hands-down winner for the IEEE Spectrum’s ACE Emerging Technology award.

Looking further down the road, Professor Jerry Fossum (himself a winner of the J.J. Ebers award) tells us that SOI represents the most pragmatic approach to future transistor generations.

Beyond silicon, engineered substrate solutions using new materials and technologies help solve an old problem: how to get a chip on the best substrate for the job. Picogiga’s SopSiC for GaN and TraciT’s wafer level circuit transfer demonstrate how creative thinking at the substrate level can unfurl new, cost-effective generations of applications.

Clearly, SOI has been a tremendous boon to those who first leveraged it for full-custom chips. But with new design tools, new approaches and new materials, we’re witnessing the democratization of advanced, engineered substrates. Driven by the dual needs of better performance and lower power consumption, substrate engineering is playing a pivotal role in delivering innovative solutions to the industry.