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.


Europe needs to build a high-volume FD-SOI fab. Malcolm Penn, CEO of Future Horizons, said this in the firm’s annual forecast meeting, reported David Manners of ElectronicsWeekly (Click here to read his article.)

Last year, European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said, “I want to double our chip production to around 20% of global production. [...] It’s a realistic goal if we channel our investments properly.” (Click here for more on that story.)

To meet that goal, “The cornerstone of the European Leaders Group (ELG) report to Neelie Kroes, due in a week or two, should be the construction of a high volume FD-SOI wafer fab,” said Penn, as reported by Manners.

Despite resistance from Europe’s biggest semi players, “Building a volume production FD-SOI fab would be one of the most blatantly obvious things the ELG could do,” said Penn in the Manners piece, “it should be a cornerstone of the ELG plan. It would be a fantastic thing for them to do.”

Posted January 31, 2014   -   Share this Buzz

CMPmultiwaferCMP recently delivered the first 28nm FD-SOI/10LM multi-project wafer run, Kholdoun Torki, Technical Director at CMP has indicated. “We received positive feedback on the test results with quite impressive device performance,” he said. The PDK is from ST, making this a success for both STMicroelectronics and CMP. 
In 2013, they had 32 prototypes from 15 customers over three runs. The latest run embedded 25 different projects. Delivery of that run to users will be in Q2 2014.

“We have a total of 140 institutions/companies already using the PDK. Four MPW runs are scheduled in 2014, one for each quarter,” said Dr. Torki. MPW price is 15000 Euro/mm2.

“At CMP we fully support UTSOI model cards available in the process design-kit (PDK) for the 28nm FDSOI process,” explains Dr. Torki. The simulation model itself is available for Eldo, Spectre and Hspice. Cadence, Mentor and Synopsys make this model available as a standard feature thanks to a Leti-ST licensing agreement.

Look for news about availability of Leti’s new UTSOI2 model (click here for more information on the model) for 14nm FD-SOI in Q2.

Posted January 31, 2014   -   Share this Buzz

Taur_coverIn a new edition (2013) of Taur and Ning’s Fundamentals of Modern VLSI Devices, the authors have added a chapter on SOI devices.  The first edition of the book was widely adopted as a standard textbook in microelectronics in many major US universities and worldwide.  Reviewers on Amazon called the first edition of this book (1998) “best textbook I used” and the “Bible for microelectronic device engineers”.  Now available as an eBook as well as in hardcover and paperback from Cambridge University Press (click here for details), this new edition will also be a valuable reference volume for practicing engineers involved in research and development in the electronics industry.  As Professor Mark Lundstrom of Purdue noted, “The best book of its kind is now even better.”

A professor at UC San Diego, Yuan Taur spent twenty years at IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center. Tak H. Ning is an IBM Fellow at the T. J. Watson Research Center, where he has worked for over 35 years.

Posted January 23, 2014   -   Share this Buzz

Fossum_coverA new book by two giants in SOI – Jerry Fossum of U. Florida/Gainesville and Vishal Trivedi of Freescale –  delves into the Fundamentals of Ultra-Thin-Body MOSFETs and FinFETs.  Available from Cambridge University Press in both hardcover and eBook formats (click here for more information), it covers theory, design and applications of FD-SOI MOSFETs and FinFETs (you can review the Table of Contents here). The book is billed as “a must-have resource” for professional engineers in the CMOS IC field who need to know about optimal nonclassical device design and integration.

ASN readers will remember that Dr. Fossum won the IEEE/EDS J. J. Ebers Award in 2004 for ‘outstanding contributions to the advancement of SOI CMOS devices and circuits through modeling’.  They also may remember his concise, elegant argument back in 2007 (see article here) as to why SOI represents a pragmatic approach to FinFETs.

Posted January 23, 2014   -   Share this Buzz

STMicroelectronics has released details of its innovative STi8K™ architecture addressing future Systems-on-Chips (SoCs) for the Digital Home (press release here).  Optimized for ST’s 28nm Fully Depleted Silicon-On-Insulator (FD-SOI) and smaller-geometry manufacturing processes, the STi8K™ architecture leverages the increased data throughput, the extended memory addressing, and the reduced power consumption of the latest ARM® Cortex™-A53 and Cortex™-A57 64-bit processor technology, combining high performance and reliability with outstanding energy efficiency.

“The consumer industry has initiated the transition from 32- to 64-bit computing in the mobile market,” said Gian Luca Bertino, Executive Vice President and General Manager Digital Convergence Group, STMicroelectronics. “New upcoming, highly demanding technologies, such as DOCSIS 3.1 or full-featured 10-bit High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) in Ultra High Definition at 60 frames per second, will drive this same transition in the Digital Home market.”

Tom Cronk, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, at ARM added, “We share ST’s vision for the future of the digital home market. Full-color Ultra HD applications together with ultra-high bandwidth home-network-access systems made possible with DOCSIS 3.1 technologies will transform the home-entertainment experience. Our long-term collaboration with ST, including its recent integration of our latest 64-bit processors, together with our mutual investment in software-ecosystem development, are key building blocks that will help make more advanced and immersive media experiences a reality.”

Posted January 17, 2014   -   Share this Buzz

FD-SOI could be the “tipping point” for SOI, supply chain expert Bill Kohnen indicated in a presentation at the Semiconductor Technical Purchasing Conference last fall. (See his ppt here.) He suggested, “Purchasing and Supply Chain Organizations at Foundries and Device Manufacturers that need SOI wafers need to closely monitor the supply chain as demand resulting from FD-SOI applications may be the tipping point for capacity issues.”  He concludes that the industry consortiums will be helpful in avoiding a “bullwhip effect”.

Posted January 17, 2014   -   Share this Buzz

“If GLOBALFOUNDRIES has the ability to economically research, develop, and produce parts on 20 nm FD-SOI, they could be hitting one out of the park,” said Josh Walrath (citing the baseball expression for a big home run) in a long PC Perspectives article last fall (Oct. ’13). “The industry is clamoring for a product that can match the power characteristics of Intel’s 22 nm process.” In the article, entitled Next Gen Graphics and Process Migration: 20 nm and Beyond, he contends that “The Really Good Times are Over” for the breakneck advances we got use to seeing in GPUs in years past.  For his gamer audience, he clearly charts the evolutions in chip design, nodes and graphics performance.  Citing the challenges at 20nm and below, he suggest that “…FD-SOI seems like it answers most of the issues that crop up with the 22/20 nm node. It does not require massive design rule changes, it can re-use a lot of bulk silicon manufacturing technology, and it runs perfectly fine with planar transistors at 22/20 nm. In a gate-last configuration, FD-SOI with planar transistors actually looks like it outperforms and scales significantly better than Intel’s 22 nm Tri-Gate process.” A recommended read.

Posted January 17, 2014   -   Share this Buzz

Zvi-F10-12-23Following IEDM (Dec. ’13), Zvi Or-Bach, President & CEO of posted a SemiMD blog (click here) entitled Why SOI is the Future Technology of Semiconductors.  Beginning with the assertions that it’s cheaper and easier for FinFETS, it’s a natural for monolithic 3D ICs, and it best for next-gen transistor architectures, he goes on to elaborate on each of these points.   He cites presentations by GloFo and IBS for cost, then delves into Leti’s sequential 3D technology, leveraging FD-SOI and FinFETs, as well as other SOI-based monolithic 3D IC integration developments. A recommended read.

Posted January 13, 2014   -   Share this Buzz

Leti recently announced an agreement with Qualcomm Technologies, under which Qualcomm will assess the feasibility and the value of Leti’s sequential 3D technology. As opposed to 3D with TSVs, sequential 3D integration involves stacking active layers of transistors using molecular bonding. In his Electronics360 blog, Peter Clarke points out the synergies between the Leti process and FD-SOI.

Posted January 13, 2014   -   Share this Buzz

Simon Yang, the CEO of XMC, a fast growing specialty foundry in China, gave an excellent presentation about FD-SOI at the SOI Consortium’s Technology Summit in Shanghai (Oct., 2013).  The presentation is now available both through VLSI’s weSRCH site (click here) and through the SOI Consortium’s website (click here for this plus all the other Shanghai presentations).  While noting that over half of the world’s ICs are going into China, and three-quarters of them are <65nm, Yang’s looking at ways to boost his 12” utilization.

He asks if FD-SOI can be part of the solution, noting that it is a simple way to gain entry into fully-depleted technologies: it is a mature planar CMOS process, is easily portable for existing bulk designs, and is a particularly good choice for mobile markets.  Yang was formerly CTO of Chartered, which would indicate he’s familiar with SOI (pre-GloFo, Chartered produced PD-SOI chips for AMD).

While design houses in China want high performance and low power, they’ll go with whatever technology is good enough and cheap enough, he says. While he cites FD-SOI advantages, he also doesn’t pull any punches with respect to how he perceives the challenges, primarily with respect cost and ecosystem.

Posted January 13, 2014   -   Share this Buzz

eSIperformanceSoitec has issued a highly-informative new white paper on its enhanced signal integrity – aka eSI™ – wafers for 4G and LTE/A applications (to get the paper, click here).  Entitled “Innovative RF-SOI Wafers for Wireless Applications”, the paper explains the various challenges faced by RF IC designers, and how the new eSI wafers offer powerful solutions.  The substrates on which devices for LTE apps are manufactured play a major role in achieving requisite levels of performance.  They allow RF designers to integrate on the same chip diverse functions such as switches, power amplifiers and antenna tuners with excellent RF isolation, good insertion loss and better signal integrity than traditional technologies. As described recently in ASN (click here), the new eSI wafers are now in high-volume production, and are being used at most of the leading RF foundries.

Posted December 19, 2013   -   Share this Buzz

Advanced engineered substrate and materials leader Soitec and CEA-Leti, one of the world’s largest nanoelectronics labs, have signed a new five-year contract (press release here). This extends their partnership on engineered substrates and materials offering higher performance and energy savings at a competitive cost. The teams will teams will focus their efforts on developing new materials generations to support Soitec road maps in three markets: electronics, solar energy and lighting.

As Dr. Carlos Mazuré, CTO of Soitec, said,“In our industry, competitive pre-industrialization research, development of technology and product prototypes have become very important to make the difference. The CEA-Leti and Soitec partnership establishes a powerful alliance that is capable of answering the numerous challenges of today’s industrial requirements and building on our well-established material expertise.”

Laurent Malier, Director of CEA-Leti, said, “In recent years, Soitec has widely expanded its footprint and impact by addressing the electronics and energy challenges through its unique technologies which we developed together. Our partnership is the most efficient framework for securing research execution to support the ambitions of Soitec, and CEA-Leti teams are committed to its success.”

Soitec (founded in 1992) was originally a spin-off of Leti, where the company’s Smart Cut™ engineered wafer manufacturing technology was originally invented (in 1991).

Posted December 19, 2013   -   Share this Buzz

CEA-Leti announced that Leti-UTSOI2, the first complete compact model that enlarges the physically described bias range for designers, is available in all major SPICE simulators (press release here). 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. ST and Leti researchers presented UTSOI2 at IEDM 13. The model is dedicated to Ultra-Thin Body and Box FD-SOI technology, and is able to describe accurately independent double gate operation for sub-20nm nodes. It meets standard Quality and Robustness tests for circuit design applications.

“Enlarging the back biasing range accessible to the design community is key to optimizing the trade-off between performance and power consumption for UTBB technology,” said Thierry Poiroux, research engineer at Leti and model co-developer. “This provides more opportunities to utilize FDSOI’s advantages for mobile devices and other applications that require efficient energy use.”

The model’s development was supported by STMicroelectronics and partly funded by the ENIAC JU Places2Be project.

Posted December 19, 2013   -   Share this Buzz

Advanced substrate leader Soitec and Intelligent Epitaxy Technology, Inc. (IntelliEPI, Taiwan) a leader in InP, GaAs, and GaSb epi wafers, have signed a collaborative agreement to better serve the GaAs market (press release here).

“We are delighted to announce the license of our technology leading to a second source for our products for our key GaAs customers ,” said Bernard Aspar, Senior Vice President and Soitec’s Communication & Power Business Unit General Manager.

“This collaborative agreement will reinforce our GaAs technology and product know-how while, at the same time, offering Soitec’s customers supply-chain security,” said Yung-Chung Kao, IntelliEPI President and CEO.

Gallium arsenide (GaAs), a III-V semiconductor, is used in the manufacture of devices such as microwave frequency ICs, monolithic microwave ICs, infrared light-emitting diodes, laser diodes, solar cells and optical windows. GaAs is often used as a substrate material for the epitaxial growth of other III-V semiconductors including InGaAs and GaInNAs.

Posted December 16, 2013   -   Share this Buzz

EVG850LTlores

Equipment maker EVG announced that the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research Technology (SMART) ordered an EVG®850LT fully automated production bonding system designed for SOI and direct wafer bonding using low-temp plasma activation processing (press release here). SMART researchers will use the system to support  advanced substrate development efforts.  According to Professor Eugene Fitzgerald from MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, SMART chose the EVG850LT for the center’s advanced R&D efforts due to the system’s high process flexibility and performance, EVG’s experience in low-temperature bonding, and expertise and support in process development.

Posted December 16, 2013   -   Share this Buzz