ST to run 28nm FD-SOI NovaThor next week
Next week STMicroelectronics will start running the 28nm FD-SOI NovaThor integrated modem and applications processor designed by ST-Ericsson, Jean-Marc Chery, Chief Manufacturing and Technology Officer of ST told EW in Crolles yesterday.
The chips will be made at Crolles. The Crolles 28nm FD-SOI line has capacity for 300-500 wafers per week. The process is in the course of being transferred to Globalfoundries’ Dresden fab where it will be ready for mass production in the second half of 2013, said Chery.
The decision to go with FD-SOI was taken in July 2011 after an earlier decision to use bulk
“28nm bulk with HKMG looked good enough to address smartphones,” said Chery, “over a year ago we taped out HKMG 28nm at Samsung.”
Having made the decision to adopt FD-SOI last July, it has taken a year to get the process to the point where it will be ready to start running 28nm FD-SOI ICs next week.
The 28nm FD-SOI process produces ICs with superior performance to Intel’s bulk 22nm finfet process, said Chery.
“Finfet generation 1 on bulk does not perform as well as SOI performance at 28nm,” said Chery, “finfet generation 1 has good leakage without performance or performance with high leakage.”
Chery reckons the Intel 22nm process is really a 26nm process measured by drawn gate length.
“Finfet generation 1 is a complex technology and doesn’t give the best trade-off between performance and leakage,” said Chery.
The FD-SOI process will see ST through the 28nm and 20nm nodes without ST having to bother with finfets.
“At 28nm and 20nm we can offer a planar SOI solution which offers the best combination of performance and leakage,” said Chery
The FD-SOI vs finfet competitive battle will be joined in earnest at the 14nm node, reckons Chery.
“Intel’s 14nm finfet process will be fantastic,” said Chery, “so Samsung and TSMC are running fast to introduce a competitive 14nm finfet process.”
ST’s FD-SOI process will scale to 14nm but, after that, ST is looking for partners to develop the technology further.
“The challenge for us will be at 10nm,” said Chery, “because bulk will disappear at 10nm. We need to get others to join the club at Globalfoundries – it’s in our interest to prepare a club for 10nm.”
Chery reckons the FPGA people and the ARM camp could be possible members.