Family Of 22 nm FD-SOI Introduced By GlobalFoundries

Omar Sohail

GlobalFoundries, the firm that formed a partnership with Samsung in order to mass produce the company’s 14 nm FinFET for high end mobile SoCs has introduced a family of ‘fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator’ (FD-SOI) manufacturing technologies. This is to start snaring in customers that require a combination of both high performance and low design costs. This new fabrication process will promise to deliver performance that is equivalent to FinFET transistors, but will cost much less to manufacture, making it a worthy substitute, if not better.

Four Versions Of 22FDX Will Be Introduced By GlobalFoundries, With Each Version Targeted For A Different Application

According to the latest tech report, GlobalFoundries is referring to its new process as 22FDX and will be offering four versions. Details of all these versions have been given below:

  1. 22FD-ulp: Used for inexpensive SoCs. Delivers 70 percent power reduction as compared to 0.9V 28nm.
  2. 22FD-uhp: Used for networking applications with analog integration.
  3. 22FD-ull: Used for ‘Internet of Things’ devices and features leakage of as low as 1pa/um.
  4. 22FD-rfa: Used for making cellular, LTE and MIMO Wi-Fi modems.

Here is the confusing part; even though GlobalFoundries has classified its chips in the 22 nm category, 22FDX will be using ‘back-end-of-line’ (BEOL) interconnect flow of STMicroelectronics’ 28nm FD-SOI as well as ‘front-end of line’ (FEOL) of STM’s 14nm FD-SOI. 22FDX is planar tech that sports 50 percent fewer lithography layers compared to FinFET technologies. Due to this, it simplifies the chip design.

Companies are on the lookout for cheaper substitutes since $80-$90 is the cost of one mainstream FinFET IC to design, which is a lot of money. Sanjay Jha, Chief Executive Officer of GlobalFoundries states the following concerning the efficiency and dynamic performance capabilities of its 22FDX process.

“The 22FDX platform enables our customers to deliver differentiated products with the best balance of power, performance and cost. In an industry first, 22FDX provides real-time system software control of transistor characteristics: the system designer can dynamically balance power, performance, and leakage. Additionally, for RF and analog integration, the platform delivers best scaling combined with highest energy efficiency.”

Corporations that are in favor of this manufacturing process are as follows:

  • ARM
  • Imagination Technologies
  • Freescale
  • IBS
  • STMicroelectronics
  • VeriSilicon

Design starter kits and early versions of process design kits are available now. However, risk production will be commencing during H2, 2016, while mass production of 22FDX chips will begin during H2 2017. Will companies like Apple and Qualcomm switch from 14 nm FinFET to 22FDX, or will they remain with a much smaller lithographic process? Let us know your thoughts.

Deal of the Day