GlobalFoundries’ FD-SOI revolution

GlobalFoundries’ FD-SOI revolution

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

Teepe offered, in broad strokes, GlobalFoundries’ FD-SOI time schedule. While it was no formal announcement, his presentation implied the company’s oft-leaked but never confirmed big plans in FD-SOI.

Teepe came to Grenoble, ostensibly, to end the suspense.

He said, “We are developing 22nm FD-SOI process technology right now.” The plan is to qualify the process by early 2016 and start volume production by the end of 2016. Asked about what the company’s 22nm FD-SOI process entails, Teepe explained, “We are using STMicroelectronics’ 14nm FD-SOI in our frontend, while using 28nm FD-SOI in the backend.”

GlobalFoundries appears to believe that their initial FD-SOI customers will be designers of big volume SoCs. While those customers need to push the performance of their SoCs, what they really need is a “good price,” said Teepe. The promise of GlobalFoundries’ 22nm FD-SOI solution, he concluded, is to offer his customers “almost 14nm FinFET performance at almost 28nm cost.”

GlobalFoundries Teepe discusses FD-SOI specifics in digital design flows.

GlobalFoundries Teepe discusses FD-SOI specifics in digital design flows.

GlobalFoundries’ plan is to initially “capture the SoC market” with its 22nm FD-SOI — for big volume. Then, in a few years, “we hope to be able to leverage FD-SOI’s super low-power strategy for wearables and other products, whose volume will start to emerge by then,” Teepe explained.

At the FD-SOI workshop, all three FD-SOI foundries — Samsung, STMicroelectronics and GlobalFoundries — were present. Asked about the portability of designs from one foundry to another, Kelvin Low, senior director, foundry marketing at Samsung Electronics, made it clear that ST and Samsung offer 100 percent portability. “You can transfer a single Process Design Kit (PDK) from ST to Samsung. That works.”

That’s apparently not the case with GlobalFoundries, however. Referring to its own 22nm FD-SOI process, Teepe said, “this is not a direct shrink. It needs reimplementation.” In other words, some work is necessary to move a design either from ST or Samsung to GlobalFoundries’ 22nm. Teepe downplayed the portability issue by noting, “If you’ve done FD-SOI before, it’s not difficult to move to 22nm.” 

New rules needed
From GlobalFoundries’ perspective, Moore’s Law — which has allowed chip designers to double density while lowering transistor cost — no longer applies. Instead, “at a finer node we are getting higher performance at higher cost,” Teepe said. 

Teepe pointed out that the semiconductor industry today is in turmoil — with big mergers and consolidations almost every month. In the beginning of his presentation, he brought up the French Revolution. In the midst of the revolution, he explained, the French didn’t know whether the new constitution would eventually restore order.

While the chip is not exactly experiencing a Reign of Terror, it does face the prospect of a new order that takes the place of Moore’s Law, Teepe suggested.

About the author:

Junko Yoshida, Chief International Correspondent, EE Times

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