Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.
Finfet’s Struggles Boost Simpler, Cheaper FD-SOI
FD-SOI, seeking to grow its ecosystem, will get a boost from the remarks of KLA Tencor CEO, Rick Wallace, about the struggles his customers are having with finfets.
“In logic and foundry, with the introduction of the new 3-D gate architectures, the yield issues our customers are grappling with today are proving to be the most challenging that the industry have ever faced, and even the smallest variation and process margin can cause significant yield losses for these devices,’ says Wallace.
FD-SOI uses few masks and has less processing steps than finfet.
“At 28nm and 20nm, the lower power consumption and higher performance of FD-SOI compared to planar bulk CMOS gives major competitive advantages to FD-SOI in high volume portable applications,” says Handel Jones, founder, chairman and CEO of International Business Strategies Inc, “the lower cost of FD-SOI die compared to 16nm finfet die provides an overwhelming advantage to utilising FD-SOI for high volume applications at this technology node.”
Some companies could be looking again at what FD-SOI has to offer because even Intel seems to be struggling with 14nm finfet, after a reportedly smooth transition to finfet at 22nm.
Yesterday, the developer of FD-SOI, STMicroelectronics said it has recently signed up a foundry to take FD-SOI. ““We have just signed a strategic agreement with a top-tier foundry for 28nm FD-SOI technology,” said Jean-Marc Chery, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Embedded Processing Solutions at ST, “this agreement expands the ecosystem, assures the industry of high-volume production of ST’s FD-SOI based IC solutions for faster, cooler, and simpler devices and strengthens the business and financial prospects of the Embedded Processing Solutions Segment.”
The uncertainty with finfets has caused manufacturers to stall investment plans, says KLA’s Wallace.
“Issues related to leading edge device yield and high concentration of demand across a consolidated customer base and uncertainty over the timing of follow-on capacity have introduced a degree of variability into our quarterly demand forecast and have made visibility into our customer production plans extremely challenging today,” says Wallace.
At the leading edge, FD-SOI has a big cost advantage over finfet and equivalent leakage, according to Jones.
“At 14nm/16nm, the FD-SOI die cost for a 100mm2 die is 28.2% lower than the bulk FinFET die cost and has higher yield,” says Jones, “the leakage of FD-SOI devices is projected to be comparable to that of finfet devices.”