GLOBALFOUNDRIES today held its annual Global Technology Conference (GTC) and announced that the company's mobile-optimized 8SW 300mm RF SOI technology platform has been qualified and is in production. In addition, the company plans to introduce new technology features to its 14/12nm FinFET offering.
The RF SOI process is tailored to accommodate aggressive LTE and Sub-6 GHz standards for front-end module (FEM) applications, including 5G IoT, mobile device and wireless communications.
Leveraging the 300mm RF SOI process, 8SW delivers performance, integration and area advantages with up to 70 percent power reduction and 20 percent smaller overall die size compared to the previous generation. The technology enables superior LNAs (low-noise amplifiers) switches and tuners by supplying higher voltage handling and a best-in-class on-resistance (Ron) and off-capacitance (Coff) for reduced insertion loss with high isolation. The optimized RF FEM platform helps designers develop solutions that enable extremely fast downloads, higher quality connections and reliable data connectivity for today's 4G/LTE Advanced operating frequencies and future sub-6GHz 5G mobile and wireless communication applications.
Christine Dunbar, vice president of RF business unit at GF, said that her company has delivered more than 40 billion RF SOI chips for the world's smart devices.
8SW is manufactured on GF's 300mm production line at Fab 10 in East Fishkill, N.Y.. Qualified process design kits are available now.
GLOBALFOUNDRIES also announced today plans to introduce a full set of new technology features to its 14/12nm FinFET offering. The features are designed to deliver better scalability and performance for applications in markets such as hyperscale datacenters and autonomous vehicles.
GF's FinFET offering is a platform for designing high-performance, power-efficient system-on-chips (SoCs). The company said that the new platform features will improve power, performance and scalability by delivering transistor enhancements optimized for ultra-high performance and enhanced RF connectivity, as well as new high-speed, high-density memories for emerging enterprise and cloud security needs.
The enhancements being added to GF's 14/12nm FinFET platform platform include:
- Delivers increased transistor density through continued improvements to the 12LP design library (7.5T), combined with SRAM and analog advances, delivering a smaller die area.
- Increases performance through reducing SRAM Vmin by 100mV and standby leakage current by ~50 percent to extend performance for both existing and emerging applications in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
- Provides a full suite of passive devices, ultra-thick metal and LDMOS options for advanced RF performance with Ft/Fmax at 340GHz targeting <6GHz RF SoCs with high digital content.
- Offers ultra-high security, one-time programmable (OTP) and multi-time programmable (MTP) embedded non-volatile (eNVM) memory for emerging enterprise, cloud and communication applications. Using physically undetectable charge-trapping technology (CTT) enables security solutions including "physically unclonable device" capabilities and efficient non-volatile memories for higher levels of SoC integration. GF's CTT solution requires no additional processing or masking steps and delivers up to twice the density of similar OTP solutions based on dielectric fuse technology.
The company's 14LPP technology can provide up to 55 percent higher device performance and 60 percent lower total power compared to 28nm technologies, while its 12LP technology provides as much as a 15 percent improvement in circuit density and more than a 10 percent improvement in performance over 16/14nm FinFET solutions on the market today. GF's leading-edge FinFET platform has been in high-volume production since early 2016, and is Automotive Grade 2 ready.
GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF) is also collaborating with Imagination Technologies to provide ultra-low-power baseband and radio frequency (RF) solutions for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and IEEE 802.15.4 technology, using Imagination's Ensigma connectivity IP on GF's 22nm FD-SOI (22FDX) platform.
The combination of 22FDX technology and Imagination's Ensigma IP provides a solution that can be integrated into System on Chip (SoC) designs.
Ensigma IP for 22FDX provides a complete IP solution comprising analogue RF/AFE as a hard macro complete with a fully synthesizable baseband IP for applications such as wearable computing, health care, and home control. The solution for ultra-low power Bluetooth Low Energy and IEEE 802.15.4 is currently in development, with silicon available in early Q4 2018.
The Ensigma Bluetooth Low Energy / IEEE 802.15.4 baseband and RF IP is available for immediate licensing.
Speaking about GF's decision to stop development of 7nm technology, GF's Tom Caufield said visits with European chip vendors such as Bosch, Infineon and NXP after he was named GF's chief executive in March helped show the way. They provided role models in stepping back when returns slowed for chips designed on bleeding edge nodes, he said.
"The vast majority of our customers have no intention to use something below 10nm in their lifetimes" [while his only 7nm prospects, AMD and IBM,] said you will always be late and your [leading-edge] capacity is too small for us," he said.
The foundry, which had risen to a $6 billion business in 2017, would have had to spend $3 billion - half of it raised from outside investors - to install even a modest capacity of about 30,000 7nm wafers/month. "The returns would be like CD return - it was time for us to become more relevant," he said.
In packaging, GF supports automated fiber alignment for silicon photonics as well as silicon interposers capable of handling four HBM stacks. It also supports an RF package that integrates antennas.