GlobalFoundries has positioned FDSOI proposal -22FDX- to provide better performance and power dissipation than competitive FDSOI offers on 28nm node. The FDSOI licensing agreement between LETI and GlobalFoundries is only a couple of months old (July 2015), but the real work has started in Dresden as several engineers from LETI are working to secure FDSOI porting in GlobalFoundries wafer Fab. But the partnership goes further as Leti will also provide GlobalFoundries’ customers circuit-design IP, including for its back-bias feature for FD-SOI, which enables exceptional performance at very low voltages with low leakage. I like the picture below, extracted from a presentation made by Rutger Wijburg, senior vice president and general manager of fab management at Globalfoundries Inc., during the Semicon Europa exhibition held in Dresden. Such a picture is far more efficient than a long talk as it says everything: the PC wave of the 2000’s was based on expensive Silicon targeting maximum performance for about 300 million systems per year. The next big wave is concerning 1,500 million systems per year, relying on devices offering 75% cheapest costs per gate designed for performance efficiency, or maximum battery life time. Finally, the expected IoT wave will be built on completely different devices characterized by minimum possible size and a cost per sq mm divided by 5 compared with smartphone application processors… Such an evolution is more like a revolution.
To support such a revolution, GlobalFoundries strongly relies on FDSOI technology. The gate length in 22FDX is 14nm (but the CMOS transistor is still planar, cheaper to manufacture than 14nm FF transistor), allowing better performance and power efficiency than 28nm and finally lower power consumption, when the interconnects levels, having the same metal pitch than with 28nm, are at par in term of manufacturing cost. Technology is key, but not enough as you need to create an Ecosystem. Building a solid (ARM Ltd. calls it “vibrant”) Ecosystem is the key for success in the fabless industry, more than in any other industry. Before launching a SoC into production, the foundry will have to organize and support various industry partners, including EDA, IP, ASIC design services, Test, Packaging and probably more. Globalsolutions was created by GlobalFoundries to spur innovation in the semiconductor industry and assure chip designers receive world-class service from design conception to production. LETI is joining Globalsolutions as a technology (licensing) provider, as an IP provider and as an ASIC provider, specifically to support GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 22FDX™ technology platform. “This strategic partnership with GLOBALFOUNDRIES positions Leti to help a broad range of designers utilize FD-SOI technology’s significant strengths in ultra-low-power and high performance in their IoT and mobile devices with 22nm technology,” said Marie Semeria, Leti CEO.
GlobalFoundries was not the first to license FDSOI technology from LETI. We can consider that they have filled the gap by offering the technology on a node offering better performance than 28nm. Licensing FD-SOI one year later than Samsung is also a great opportunity to benefit from existing EDA and IP ecosystem, already built to support 28nm FD-SOI. On the IP side, these have been developed several years ago and have been Silicon proven. IP vendors will have to port it to 22FDX, which is only a part of the development effort. EDA vendors have already supported numerous chip tape out in 28 FD-SOI, the tools are ready. Even more important, as one of the game changers is the Body Bias capability allowing increasing performance or reduce leakage current, this key feature is now well supported by design tools (it was probably not the case at FD-SOI technology introduction, leading to more complex design flow). From an interview made on the 10/15 with Gary Patton, ex-IBMer and now head of R&D and CTO at GlobalFoundries, we understand that FD-SOI is GlobalFoundries strategy to target smartphone AP and RF ASIC. Even if 22FDX is more suited for mid to low end AP, this market is huge, as well as RF ASIC. Did you know that IBM has put in production 16.5 billion RF-SOI IC since 2002? To further develop these markets, GlobalFoundries will have to rely on a strong Ecosystem and they are building it now. From Eric Esteve from IPNEST You can find Gary Patton interviewShare this post via: