Right on cue, TSMC announces 16nm FinFET production silicon. I believe this is the original version of FinFET versus 16FF+ which is due out in 1H 2015. I will confirm this next week at the TSMC OIP event in San Jose, absolutely. Either way this is excellent news for the fabless semiconductor ecosystem and I look forward to the first tear down of a TSMC FinFET SoC in comparison to an Intel FinFET SoC. TSMC 20nm compared quite favorably against Intel 14nm in regards to density and 16FF will do even better.
Let’s not forget that The Chairman (TSMC’s Dr. Morris Chang) speculated that TSMC would not win a majority FinFET market share in 2015. To me this was a head fake to rally the troops. Morris has done this before on conference calls, he is a very clever man. As I mentioned previously, I have never seen TSMC more energized during my last Taiwan trip. Hschinsu on a whole was really buzzing with activity and it was all about FinFETs no matter where I went.
HSINCHU, Taiwan, R.O.C., Sept. 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — TSMC (TWSE: 2330, NYSE: TSM) today announced that its collaboration with HiSilicon Technologies Co, Ltd. has successfully produced the foundry segment’s first fully functional ARM-based networking processor with FinFET technology. This milestone is a strong testimonial to deep collaboration between the two companies and TSMC’s commitment to providing industry-leading technology to meet the increasing customer demand for the next generation of high-performance, energy-efficient devices.
For those of you who don’t know, HiSilicon is the ASIC design division of communications giant Huawei. I first encountered HiSilicon in 2008 during an IP licensing negotiation involving SMIC. More recently I visited the new HiSilicon design center in Taiwan. You will be hard pressed to find a leading SoC company without a design center near Hsinchu so they can seamlessly integrate with TSMC. HiSilicon has 100+ people there now and I’m told they are still hiring.
“Our FinFET R&D goes back over a decade and we are pleased to see the tremendous efforts resulted in this achievement,” said TSMC President and Co-CEO, Dr. Mark Liu. “We are confident in our abilities to maximize the technology’s capabilities and bring results that match our long track record of foundry leadership in advanced technology nodes.”
The other interesting thing about this design is that it uses 3D IC packaging combining 28nm mixed signal and 16nm logic chips. TSMC calls this CoWoS (Chip-On-Wafer-On-Substrate) which allows you to integrate multiple chips into a single device. We have written aboutCOWOS many times before and this is an excellent example. To save time and minimize cost you can integrate 28nm blocks with leading edge CPUs for your SoC.
“We are delighted to see TSMC’s FinFET technology and CoWoS[SUP]®[/SUP]solution successfully bringing our innovative designs to working silicon,” said HiSilicon President Teresa He.”This industry’s first 32-core ARM Cortex-A57 processor we developed for next-generation wireless communications and routers is based on the ARMv8 architecture with processing speeds of up to 2.6GHz. This networking processor’s performance increases by three fold compared with its previous generation. Such a highly competitive product can support virtualization, SDN and NFV applications for next-generation base stations, routers and other networking equipment, and meet our time-to-market goals.”
Congratulations to TSMC, HiSilicon, and the entire fabless semiconductor ecosystem for this incredible achievement. And for those who predicted that fabless FinFET chips would “Happen in 2016 at the earliest or never at all”… There are no words left for you.
Also Read: Intel’s 35% Density Advantage Claim Explored