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GlobalFoundries and Samsung at ARM

GlobalFoundries and Samsung at ARM
by Paul McLellan on 10-03-2014 at 3:01 pm

 It was back in April that GlobalFoundries and Samsung announced that GF would license Samsung’s 14nm process to run in their Fab8 in upstate New York. Since then there has not really been any news and of course those of us that follow the foundry industry wondered to what extent there was real substance to the agreement or if it was just a feel-good press release. Well, this week a lot of information was presented. It was at ARM TechCon this week. There was a panel with Kelvin Low of Samsung, Shubhankar Basu of GlobalFoundries and Wolfgang Helfricht of ARM.  Kelvin went first and emphasized that this is true multisourcing with true 14nm compatibility and it covers both 14LPE (E stands for ‘early’, since it is the early access version of the process) and 14KPP (P stands for ‘plus’, apparently, since I guess ‘late’ wouldn’t sound good). The wafer demand is, of course, largely driven by mobile but also by high-end compute functions in server farms. 14nm helps to bridge the performance gap that exists due to the limited power budgets available. FinFETs are especially good at very low voltages, and lowering the voltage is always good since it is squared in the dynamic power equation. The two processes LPE and LPP have the same design rules for fast migration. LPP has more performance and even lower power. Kelvin claims that the process enables designs that are 10% smaller than “other foundries” (no prizes for guessing who that might be) due to aggressive gate pitch, smallest SRAM and innovative layout. There have been 30 test chip tapeouts since 2012, and multiple product tapeouts completed (the first last year).  Shubhanker revealed that fab8 is on-track with 100% physical module spec matching demonstrated. Currently matches fin, gate, eSiGe, eSiP, RMG, MoL. There is steady progress on SRAM yield and volume ramp in 2015. Multiple product and testchips have taped out. PDKs are available. MPW shuttles are available. IP support, reference flows, tech files. Yes, you can do a design. Wolfgang, from the Artisan part of ARM, talked about the availability of standard cell and other libraries. At 14nm there are new sources of variation and ARM have Artisan Signoff Architect. There are also complex EM and IR limitations which are addressed with Artisan Power Grid Architect. There are multiple standard cell libraries:

  • SC10MCP with 10.5 tracks for 14LPP
  • SC9MCP with 9 tracks for 14LPP
  • SC9MC also with 9 tracks and fast availability for 14LPE.

All products support 0.7V, 0.8V and 0.9V operation. There are memories with multi-voltage peripheries. The 14LPP GPIO system is at 1.8V with a single programmable I/O cell, and compatibile with mobile DDR. High volume designs are in progress using these libraries. Serdes performance is in the 25GHz range. So there you have it. This is true multisource manufacturing. It covers 4 of the anticipated 7 fabs that will run a 14nm process (TSMC has the other 3 but it calls the process 16nm), two in Samsung Korea, Samsung Austin and GF in New York, so there is assurance of supply. The IP ecosystem is portable between all the fabs. See also GlobalFoundries Gets a 14nm Process
More articles by Paul McLellan…

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