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How hot is the 180nm node today?

Anshuman

New member
Over the years we keep hearing180nm is obsolete and then when you look at the foundries they still have the 180nm node on their charts. TSMC's webpage still mentions a sizable percentage of wafer starts in 180nm. A quick internet search shows its good for cheaper applications like IoT, Automotive, etc.

#1 So how hot is 180nm today?
#2 Any stats on how many wafer starts in 180nm worldwide?
#3 And the bigger question WHY?
#4 Whats the business viability today?

Thanks a bunch my extended colleagues.
 

Daniel Nenni

Admin
Staff member
TSMC investor presentation will tell you what percentage of revenue .18 is. Beyond that I do not know of specific numbers on design starts etc... Other fabs have legacy .18 processes as well. Companies like Semico have reports that includes these types of numbers. Why do you ask?
 

Anshuman

New member
Hey Dan, hope you are well. Since this COVID thingy its though to just "bump" into people at the Santa Clara Convention Center. :)

I was just wondering they keep saying 180nm is a mature and cheap node. But we also have the per transistor prices falling with every node advance. So how can 180nm still be viable? And I dont see any design starts at 180nm.

Even early stage startups and academia can ride a shuttle/MPW at say 65nm. That sweet spot should have moved to say 65nm by now.

So are these just respins? Or is there a second tier industry somewhere? Or is it just COVID talk?

Cheers!
Anshuman
 

Hightempsilicon

New member
Hi Anshuman,
The answer is all the "unsexy" applications which don't need a ton of compute - automotive, industrial, controls, aerospace, etc.

On most modern 180nm nodes you get logic, analogue and high voltage (200V) design blocks, combined with low mask and wafer costs.

Lets say you needed to make a small form factor 120V motor controller: you can have a high resolution ADCs, high side/low side gate drivers, control logic, a 32-bit microcontroller, single rail voltage input, a CAN transceiver etc. all on one chip with a 50k mask cost and 3k per wafer - very attractive.

To top it all off it will probably be high temperature tolerant so you can attach the package to some part of your equipment chassis and let it run at a junction temperature of 150degC+ and forget about it.
 

Paul2

New member
Over the years we keep hearing180nm is obsolete and then when you look at the foundries they still have the 180nm node on their charts. TSMC's webpage still mentions a sizable percentage of wafer starts in 180nm. A quick internet search shows its good for cheaper applications like IoT, Automotive, etc.

#1 So how hot is 180nm today?
#2 Any stats on how many wafer starts in 180nm worldwide?
#3 And the bigger question WHY?
#4 Whats the business viability today?

Thanks a bunch my extended colleagues.

It's very hot indeed, even prehistoric 200mm foundries are loaded for at least a year+.

Legacy node foundries are seeing record revenues, unseen for decades.

Thank the virus, and an overall resurgence in smart electronics outside of premium segment of iToys, and computers.

Electronics, yet again, paradoxically proves to be a countercyclical industry: in times of crisis, electronics go up, to everyone's bemusement, and confusion.

It was just like that, when 2008 set off a "shanzhai" domestic electronics industry boom in Shenzhen.
 

Anshuman

New member
Wow, that's an eye opener. Any stats you can guide me to? IC Insights didn't have much that could be quoted.
 

ali05

New member
180nm node is still widely adopted for a variety of applications. While high performance (HP) ICs will definitely use extremely downscaled nodes, other ICs like RF, analog and/or power applications require the use of larger nodes.
Just quick google search on the market size on the RF industry makes the necessity of such nodes clear.
In addition, it is not about "sexy nodes", it is about practicality.
I will give you an example: Space and high energy physics applications. those are sexy, still present, growing and companies make good money off of them. Guess which nodes they often use?!
They use large process nodes, because they are reliable and well understood. sometimes they even use larger nodes like 1um.
conclusion: large process nodes are still "hot". and they will --very likely- stay so for a long time.
 

TxAggie1995

New member
I used to work at a major analog company... half the stuff they were making was still in 180nm

The team I worked on there was making high-reliability parts with a customer-allowed fails per million of 0, so it was invaluable to have a large, very predictable node spec'ed out to within an inch of its life in Cadence. We'd routinely get silicon coming back and testing within 3% of our Virtuoso model's predictions.

The parts didn't have to be fast, they didn't have to be low-power, they didn't have to have a small footprint, and they didn't have to be cheap. But they absolutely needed to work. Accuracy and reliability were the design constraint, not switching speed or power consumption like you see in CPUs or mobile chips.

Getting 180nm capacity was a challenge for us even a couple years ago. We had a little in-house, but everything else 3rd party was contracted out for years like you're seeing. It's been hot for a while.
 
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Paul2

New member
Wow, that's an eye opener. Any stats you can guide me to? IC Insights didn't have much that could be quoted.
Eight-inch foundry quotes to rise up to 40% in 2021
Second-tier foundries eyeing bigger share in 8-inch foundry market
300MM FAB SPENDING TO BOOM THROUGH 2023 WITH TWO RECORD HIGHS, SEMI REPORTS
200mm foundry prices are rising
Supply chain: 200mm foundry capacity is in short supply
Demand Picks Up For 200mm


It all goes towards a single most obvious fact: 180nm on 200mm is the cheapest tapeout on a modern semiconductor process you can get at minimal order quantity of wafers, and under modern, I mean non-prehistoric (where digital tooling flow, digital test, and etc exists.)

And the type of companies looking for a cheapest tapeout possible, are completely ok waiting 6-12 month.
 

count

Active member
Lots of power electronics applications, like the electronics you might see in solar panels, will use old nodes.
 

Anshuman

New member
Eight-inch foundry quotes to rise up to 40% in 2021
Second-tier foundries eyeing bigger share in 8-inch foundry market
300MM FAB SPENDING TO BOOM THROUGH 2023 WITH TWO RECORD HIGHS, SEMI REPORTS
200mm foundry prices are rising
Supply chain: 200mm foundry capacity is in short supply
Demand Picks Up For 200mm


It all goes towards a single most obvious fact: 180nm on 200mm is the cheapest tapeout on a modern semiconductor process you can get at minimal order quantity of wafers, and under modern, I mean non-prehistoric (where digital tooling flow, digital test, and etc exists.)

And the type of companies looking for a cheapest tapeout possible, are completely ok waiting 6-12 month.
God bless your heart Paul2 !!

Thanks for that effort, its just awesome to see the spread of nodes and wafer sizes.

And obviously the power of SemiWIki, thanks again, Daniel Neni !
 
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