FDSOI is driving ST's automotive businesses

May 27, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
The fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator (FDSOI) chip manufacturing process championed by STMicroelectronics has become almost the default choice for digital manufacturing within the automotive and discrete group (ADG) business unit at ST, according that group's senior executive.

And that emphasis on FDSOI will continue through the manufacture of automotive microcontrollers in 28nm FDSOI, said Marco Monti executive vice president responsible for the ADG business unit.

Monti said that while ST's most advanced microcontrollers are on 40nm CMOS the next generation will be on 28nm FDSOI with some sort of non-volatile memory possibly based on phase-change memory. "The use of FDSOI in MCUs at ST is driven by automotive," said Monti. Rival European chip company and automotive supplier NXP Semiconductors is also expected to develop MCUs based on 28nm FDSOI (see NXP embraces 28nm FDSOI for MCUs ).

One particular automotive IC development – Mobileye's EyeQ5 – is not targeting FDSOI, but this is because it is a very long-term and high performance project that will be unlikely to see silicon before the end of the decade, Monti told eeNews Europe. In the near- to medium-term, with digital electronics in automotive applications growing rapidly, FDSOI is key to ST's strategy, he said.

Marco Monti, executive vice president for automotive and discrete business unit at STMicroelectronics.

"EyeQ5 is a very long term development and very complex; for full level-4 autonomous driving. It will reach production in 2022 and volume in 2025 but all the rest in ST automotive is driven by FDSOI technology. The EyeQ4 vision processor that will enter production in 2017 is on FDSOI. That is targeting level-2/level-3 autonomy," said Monti. The development team at ST has just won a special award from customer Mobileye because the EyeQ4 reached higher-than-expected performance levels, Monti added.

There are numerous other examples of FDSOI chips in development, Monti said.

These include: a next-generation Sirius XM satellite radio chip in 28nm FDSOI that will sample this year; ST's car-communications activity with Israeli customer Autotalks Ltd. "Automotive-grade Wi-Fi is on 28nm FDSOI; all the processors for automotive entertainment are going on FDSOI, our telematics processor. And we have a specialization in 28nm