Industry Buzz

Wondering what’s new, what’s hot and what’s next in the SOI and advanced substrate world?  Check
out our Industry Buzz – now featuring regular updates.


RF-SOI will play a key role in the IoT plans of analog and mixed-signal specialist MagnaChip (read the press release here). The company has launched a task force to address IoT. The statement says, “MagnaChip also offers 0.18 micron and plans to offer 0.13 micron Silicon on Insulator (SOI) RF-CMOS technologies, which is suitable for use in antenna switching, tuner and Power Amplifier (PA) applications. Switches and tuners are core components of wireless Front-End-Modules (FEMs) for cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity in IoT devices. MagnaChip’s CMOS based FEMs reduce manufacturing cost and time to market while providing competitive performance for multiband and multimode smartphones, tablets and other IoT devices.”

Commenting on the IoT opportunity, YJ Kim, MagnaChip’s interim Chief Executive Officer, said, “We believe there is tremendous growth opportunity in the IoT market and our participation is part of our overall strategy to broaden our product portfolio in new markets. MagnaChip’s IoT task force and business consortium with key business partners will reinforce our position as a key manufacturing service provider in the expanding IoT market.”

Posted April 27, 2015   -   Share this Buzz

Research and consulting group Semico has issued a new report entitled SOI Update 2015: Finding New Applications (for information on getting a copy of the report, click here). As described on the Semico website: “With the recent growth in RF-SOI for switches and integrated solutions for RF functions such as power amplifiers and transceivers, the opportunities for growth in SOI wafer demand have once again garnered a lot of attention. In addition, as the industry transitions to very complex and expensive finFET technology, SOI is providing a high performance, low power option to semiconductor vendors who do not want take on the challenges of finFETs. This report explores the markets, products and outlook for SOI wafer adoption over the next five years.”

Posted April 27, 2015   -   Share this Buzz
(Courtesy: SFARDS)

SFARDS’ SF3301 cryptocurrency ASIC is the world’s first chip to use 28nm FD-SOI. Surpassing expecttions, it operates at a stunning 0.45Vt supply voltage. (Courtesy: SFARDS)

Right on schedule, the SFARDS cryptocurrency ASIC on 28nm FD-SOI has made its debut in silicon, and is surpassing expectations. In what is clearly a stunning success, the company announced that the ASIC’s lowest working voltage is 0.45V. This means it operates stably at a power supply voltage that’s about half that of competing 28nm offerings.

An article published on the SFARDS website (see the whole thing here) said, “Using the latest in FD-SOI processing technology, SFARDS has successfully completed its 28nm SF3301 dual-algorithm ASIC chip. The SF3301 is the world’s first chip to use this manufacturing process and is at the same time the world’s first 28nm dual-algorithm (SHA-256 & Scrypt) chip, capable of mining these two algorithms simultaneously or singularly.

“SFARDS’ SF3301 fully utilizes the advantages of the FD-SOI technology. This brings increased forward body bias; the chip is operational at lower voltage while maintaining a higher frequency. The chip boasts impressive power efficiency while affording high hash power, allowing for much lower wastage per hash. The ASIC’s lowest working voltage is 0.45V.”

As noted in ASN’s Buzz in March 2015 (read it here), cryptocurrency (the best-known example of which is Bitcoin) depends on “ledgers” supported by bitcoin “mining” chips.  As well-explained in an arstechnica piece (read it here), while some Bitcoin mining is done on CPUs and GPUs, serious mining requires much faster and lower power ASICs in the hardware.

Posted April 21, 2015   -   Share this Buzz
TEM cross-section of FDSOI transistor (Courtesy of STMicroelectonics)

TEM cross-section of FDSOI transistor (Courtesy of STMicroelectonics)

CEA-Leti’s newest version of its advanced compact model for FD-SOI is now available in all major SPICE simulators (get the press release here). The Leti-UTSOI2.1 is the latest version of Leti’s compact model for FD-SOI, which was first released in 2013. (Compact models of transistors and other elementary devices are used to predict the behavior of a design. As such, they are embedded in simulations like SPICE that designers run before actual manufacturing. )

Leti-UTSOI2.1 further improves predictability and accuracy. These improvements include a direct and predictive link between bi-dimensional device electrostatics and process parameters, a refined description of narrow-channel effects, improved accuracy of moderate inversion regime and gate tunneling current modeling.

“This new version of the ultra-thin SOI model, which affirms Leti’s continuing leadership in FD-SOI technology, is ideal for designers seeking differentiation in energy management and performance for advanced nodes,” said Leti CEO Marie-Noëlle Semeria

Leti-UTSOI2.1, which considerably extends the domain of physical device description compared to other solutions, is now available in most of the commercial SPICE and Fast SPICE simulators used by industry.

Posted April 21, 2015   -   Share this Buzz

In a new YouTube video, Samsung’s Sr. Director of Foundry Marketing, Kelvin Low, makes a strong case for 28nm FD-SOI, especially for ultra-low-power, IoT, wearables, networking and automotive apps. The five-minute video was taped by ChipEstimate.TV host Sean O’Kane during the Cadence User Conference (CDNLive, Silicon Valley, March 2015 – click here to see it). While the first half addresses 14nm FinFET, starting at the 2:25 mark, it’s all about FD-SOI.

SamsungCDN

Samsung’s Sr. Director of Foundry Marketing, Kelvin Low, makes a strong case for 28nm FD-SOI in a CDNLive interview with ChipEstimate.TV’s Sean O’Kane.

First Kelvin reminds viewers that 28nm will be a long-lived node thanks to its lower costs and the fact that it doesn’t use double patterning. He says Samsung has acquired a number of customers for FD-SOI, and now has the complete ecosystem to support the process technology, from substrate suppliers through the design chain. The key value, he says, is in the extremely low power operation and the low power supply voltage, which translates into long battery life for IoT and wearables. He also says he’s very excited by the prospects for FD-SOI in the automotive domain, where it is especially valued for its enhanced reliability.

Posted April 9, 2015   -   Share this Buzz

hhgracelogoHua Hong Semiconductor of Shanghai (a pure-play 200mm foundry operated by HHGrace Semi) recently launched a 0.2μm RF-SOI process design kit (PDK) (click here to read the full press release). The 0.2μm RF-SOI technology platform has been successfully validated and is ready for customers product design and development, says the company. It is tailored and optimized for wireless RF front-end switch applications. The new PDK solution is developed from Cadence’ IC5141 EDA software, and integrates RF modeling and simulation platform such as PSP SOI and BSIM SOI. The company notes that the 0.2μm RF-SOI PDK offering provides convenience to designers who focus on optimizing both the RF performance and die size, while greatly shortening time-to-market.

Dr. Weiran Kong, Executive Vice President of Hua Hong Semiconductor said, “With the booming of mobile Internet and intelligent terminals in recent years, there are more and more applications of consumer electronics with the use of RF SOI design. 0.2μm RF-SOI technology is one of our focuses. With this new offering, we will actively help our customers to capture market opportunities. The technology is ideal for RF switch designs such as smartphones and connected devices of Internet of Things. Through adding 0.2μm RF SOI technology solution into our RF portfolio, we are able to provide customers with comprehensive, cost effective and high performance RF solutions, which also include RF CMOS, SiGe BiCMOS and embedded Flash technology with RF PDK.”

HHGraceFoundryThe Group currently has one of the largest 200mm wafer processing capacities in China through its three fabs in Shanghai, with an approximate total 200mm wafer manufacturing capacity of 129,000 wafers per month as of September 30, 2014.

Posted April 9, 2015   -   Share this Buzz

The Heterogeneous Technology Alliance (HTA), a coalition of top European R&D organizations, is offering an SOI-MEMS platform. Looking to bridge the gap between academia and industry, this technological platform pools the SOI-MEMS expertise, capabilities and fabrication facilities of Leti (France), Fraunhofer (Germany), CSEM (Switzerland) and VTT (Finland).

The main focus of HTA (click here for the website) is the further development of innovative Smart Systems. SOI-MEMS is typically used for silicon oscillators, microphones, speakers, compass, navigation, motion sensors, sensors and actuators, energy harvesting, micro fuel cells, microfluidics and other deep reactive-ion etched micro structures. A recently issued brochure gives an overview of the offering.

The HTA is active at all levels of Smart Integrated Systems Solutions: from applied research on materials, processes and equipment through the fabrication of devices and components to the development of new products and services. Development and small-scale production cleanrooms for micro-electronics, MEMS, power electronics and analogue components is available. Wafer handling capacity encompasses wafer sizes ranging from 100, through 150 and 200 to 300 mm.

A one-stop shop for complete system solutions, the HTA guarantees simple access to an enlarged portfolio of technologies and is structured to facilitate technology transfer to European and non-European companies. In addition to working with large industrial partners, the HTA offers services specially suited for small and medium-sized companies. With a combined staff of more than 5,000 scientists and a portfolio of more than 3,000 patents, the HTA is de facto the largest European organization in the field.

HTA_SOI_MEMS

Posted March 27, 2015   -   Share this Buzz
Peregrine Semiconductor teams with Murata to announce the 2015 UltraCMOS® Global 1 Initiative. This new initiative seamlessly integrates the PE56500 all-CMOS RF-SOI front-end solution and Murata filters.

Peregrine Semiconductor teams with Murata to announce the 2015 UltraCMOS® Global 1 Initiative. This new initiative seamlessly integrates the PE56500 all-CMOS RF-SOI front-end solution and Murata filters.

Peregrine Semiconductor and Murata have launched the 2015 UltraCMOS® Global 1 Initiative, which includes the UltraCMOS Global 1 PE56500 and seamlessly integrates Murata filters and packaging into the RF-SOI front-end solution. (See press release here.) Built on Peregrine’s UltraCMOS 10 technology, the PE56500 combines Peregrine’s proven RF-SOI switch and tuner technology with new CMOS PA capability that delivers raw performance equivalent to GaAs. UltraCMOS Global 1 technology makes a single, global SKU possible – saving 4G LTE mobile-device manufacturers significant time and money.

Global 1 replaces discrete duplexer matching with a sophisticated tunable matching network that optimizes the PA match across the band. With Global 1 and its supporting software, an engineer can simply plug in the device and use the software to tune the RF front end within a few hours, rather than spend weeks in manual tuning.

The Global 1 PE56500 will be in volume production in late 2015.

Posted March 27, 2015   -   Share this Buzz

Cryptocurrency mining hardware company SFARDS is preparing to release its debut miner, which is built on a 28nm FD-SOI ASIC, by April 2015. (You can read the announcement here.)

At the time of this post, tape out of the company’s SF3301ASIC has been announced as complete. Cryptocurrency (the best-known example of which is Bitcoin) depends on “ledgers” supported by bitcoin “mining” chips.  As noted in an arstechnica piece (read it here), while some Bitcoin mining is done on CPUs and GPUs, serious mining requires much faster and lower power ASICs in the hardware.

As posted on the SFARD blog, “By using FDSOI technology not currently present in any other chip on the market, power efficiency when mining with SHA-256 is predicted to reach below the 0.3 J/GH range, and 2.0 J/MH when mining with Scrypt.

“The SF3301 is extremely versatile, allowing you to mine multiple currencies with one device. This means price fluctuations can be harnessed and being forced to turn off your miner is far less likely.

“A condition can arise where altcoins are utilized to cover electricity costs while bitcoin is continuously and simultaneously being mined. This ability is something never seen before with 28nm technology.”

Posted March 11, 2015   -   Share this Buzz

XfabWebinarX-FAB is running a series of webinars on very high-temperature design the 18th and 19th of March 2015. A pure-play analog/mixed-signal and specialty foundry, X-FAB’s broad portfolio includes SOI CMOS processes for use at high temperatures up to 225°C. The event is free, but space is limited, so sign up here.

As noted in the program announcement, an increasing number of applications such as automotive engine management require electronic systems that operate reliably at temperatures above 150°C. Designers are facing the challenges of dealing with changes in electrical characteristics, higher leakage current and thermally accelerated degradation.  (To read more about high-temp apps on SOI, click here.)

This webinar looks at the device physics, electrical properties of MOSFETs and NVMs, and degradation mechanisms at elevated temperatures up to 200°C. It will discuss the behavior of CMOS when it is operated at higher temperatures and how the issues that arise can be mitigated by process architecture and design techniques.

Posted March 11, 2015   -   Share this Buzz

With a special blog and video invitation, Samsung pulled out the stops to help get the word out about the recent FD-SOI workshop in San Francisco. Kelvin Low, Sr. Director Foundry Marketing, Samsung SSI, posted Design Faster, Cooler, Smaller Chips with Samsung Foundry’s 28nm FD-SOI Process Technology (read it here). Embedded in the blog is a YouTube video encouraging people to attend the SF event and learn more. ASN recently covered Kelvin’s excellent workshop presentation – you can read that here if you missed it.

Posted March 5, 2015   -   Share this Buzz

SemiWiki founder Dan Nenni notes that their 41 FD-SOI related posts to date have drawn over 200,000 views (you can read his whole post about it here). Of that, he notes, over 60,000 came to the site directly via a search for the keyword FD-SOI. “So, if there is a question in your mind as to when FD-SOI will come to the mainstream semiconductor market the answer is very soon, absolutely,” he concludes.

Posted March 5, 2015   -   Share this Buzz

Freescale is designing its next generation microprocessor, the iMX7, on 28nm FD-SOI, EETimes has just revealed. This was in an article by Chief International Correspondent Junko Yoshida entitled Freescale, Cisco, Ciena Give Nod to FD-SOI (read it here). Freescale microcontroller SVP & GM Geoff Lees told EETimes the chip’s designed for “’secure’ IoT applications, including automotive (telematics, V2V, entry-level infotainment) and smart devices (healthcare, home appliances and factory automation)”. Samsung’s being tapped as the foundry. Cisco and Ciena are also using FD-SOI, the article stated.

Posted March 3, 2015   -   Share this Buzz

GreenChip_byNXP_identifier_cmykNXP recently expanded its GreenChip line of SOI-based power supply controller ICs with the new TEA1832TS (click here for more product info). Here at ASN, we first covered this line back in 2011 (see that Buzz here), and NXP’s been adding to it ever since.

Smart, green power supplies are one of the most important ways that designers reduce the power consumption of modern electronics. The reason NXP has been using SOI for over 15 years is well explained in this ASN piece from 2009 – read it here.

The TEA1832TS is a low-cost Switched Mode Power Supply (SMPS) controller IC intended for flyback topologies. It makes the design of low-cost, highly efficient and reliable supplies easier by requiring a minimum number of external components. The device is especially suited for medium power applications.

Posted March 3, 2015   -   Share this Buzz

SureCore’s ultra-low power SRAM technology on 28nm FD-SOI saves 70% in read/write power and reduces leakage by 30% compared to 40nm bulk implementations, writes SemiconductorEngineering Editor-In-Chief Ed Sperling (read the article here). Hitting the sweet spot for mobile, IoT and wearables, SureCore recently raised $1.6 million in funding.

Posted February 23, 2015   -   Share this Buzz