"We are looking at other non-volatile memory options," said Patton. Patton declined to say more about the options. It is notable that STMicroelectronics has chosen PCM (see Memory differences remain as ST chooses Globalfoundries for FDSOI) as well as chosing Globalfoundries as an FDSOI foundry partner but Patton would not be drawn. There are also a number of resistive RAM options being developed by fabless chip companies crying out for foundry partners. "22FDX will be a long-lived node so I expect will retrofit many technology modules," said Patton.
With a change of subject Patton said there had been no change to plans to use extreme ultraviolet lithography with the 7nm process in 2019 (see Globalfoundries says EUV in production in 2019). "We have two EUV manufacturing tools in Malta, New York, with space for two more. We already have a third machine at Veldhoven [headquarters of ASML] being upgraded."
Patton said: "We'll launch with optical immersion lithography and then we will be able to offer performance enhancement to the 7nm technology."
Patton repeated his exposition that in FinFET 14nm and 7nm are "major" nodes and he was glad that Globalfoundries had not put resources into 10nm. It is getting so expensive to engineer semiconductor manufacturing technology that it is only economic to migrate when you get the full 30 percent die area improvement, he said.
Patton said: "5nm is another half node and 3nm is likely to be the next full node." He added that 5nm will likely be the last FinFET node and that 3nm would require significant transistor engineering. "It will be a big bill for a real node improvement," he said. He added that nanosheets – flattened lateral nanowires each with a gate all around inside a fin – were a likely candidate for the 3nm process node. And this is something just announced by rival Samsung for their 3nm node coming in or after 2022 (see Samsung to introduce nanosheet transistors in 3nm node).
"People and technology miniaturization is moving slower. The introduction [of 3nm] will be three or four years after 7nm," Patton concluded There was then the analogy that 7nm is an extreme sport and that will be like performing extreme sport at high altitude. "The air will be getting very thin."
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