STMicroelectronics will have a $3bn digital IC business next year based on superior IC process technology, says the company's CTO and CMO, Jean-Marc Chery.
At ST's investor day in London yesterday, various analysts questioned the value of ST investing in advanced process technology nodes when the company's sales of products using those processes are low.
"This is incremental innovation," responded Chery, "not breakthrough innovation." He put the R&D cost of developing advanced processes and the IP to go with them at $300m a year.
That $300m development cost supports a number of digital businesses - ASIC, DSP, STB, cable modems, microcontrollers - which share the IP libraries.
Collectively these digital businesses will be drawing revenues of $3bn next year.
"We will have a $3bn business as from next year," said Chery, "and then we will start to grow."
Chery has a roadmap from 28nm, to 14nm, to 10nm - all of which will be planar with FD-SOI contributing the high-performance/low power processing.
Chery decides which products go into FD-SOI. So fsr, the FD-SOI products include a high-complexity, low-power, low volume ASIC for networking, a high volume consumer ASIC, the Novar-Thor integrated apps processor and modem which is being sold by ST not for handsets but for other mobile applications, and the next FD-SOI product will be a DSP.
The planar FD-SOI process is going to be s huge deal for ST, reckons Chery. "Rather than a complicated technology like finfet this is well adapted to consumer electronics," he said, "customers don't want to pay the cost of finfet."
Chery has aggressive scaling plans for FD-SOI. "We have a PDK at 14nm and expect to have 14nm IP ready this year and will start to make test vehicles to qualify the process by the end of this year," said Chery, "14nm will be ready to prototype products in Q2 2014 - we must be ready with 14nm FD-SOI before anyone has finfet at 14nm."
"We can come down to 10nm planar - we have silicon demonstrating the readiness of the technology," said Chery, "our vision is that, at 7nm we will go in with finfet - not with bulk finfet - but with finfet-on-SOI. But, if we can extend planar to 7nm, we will do it."