This Week: GLOBALFOUNDRIES to Present at Several Industry-Focused Events

This week will be very busy for GLOBALFOUNDRIES, as we’ll be attending and speaking at a handful of industry events. We’ve included all the important details below, including dates, sessions and more. We’re excited for the upcoming week and hope you’ll join us!

The Linley Group Mobile Conference

Image

On Wednesday, April 17th, GLOBALFOUNDRIES Executive Vice President Mike Noonen will present at The Linley Group Mobile Conference 2013. This two-day conference will feature technical presentations addressing design issues for mobile devices such as tablet computers, smartphones, navigation devices, media players and more. In addition to hearing an overview of the market and current technologies, attendees have the opportunity to attend talks and panel discussions covering a variety of topics.

Mike Noonen will be featured during session two, on mobile SoC design, which will be moderated by Scott Gardner, senior analyst at The Linley Group. Mike’s presentation, entitled “Lessons from Barcelona: The Future of Mobile Technology is Here,” will focus on the semiconductor industry’s progress in bringing FinFET technology to the mobile SoC market, as well as recent developments in FinFET technology by GLOBALFOUNDRIES and our partners.

GSA Silicon Summit

Image

On April 18th, Bruce Kleinman, GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ vice president of product marketing, will moderate a panel at the GSA Silicon Summit in Mountain View, CA. This event focuses on the business and technical factors which will yield revolutionary electronic devices in the future.

Bruce’s session, “Integration Challenges and Opportunities,” will cover the need for unifying silicon technologies and changing business models to advance the future of electronic devices. Panelists include Jim Aralis (Microsemi), Dr. Misha Burich (Altera), Dr. William Chen (ASE), Steve Longoria (Soitec) and Dr. Robert Rogenmoser (SuVolta). For more updates from this event, follow the Twitter hashtag #GSAsummit.

Electronic Design Process Symposium

Image

Finally, on Friday, April 19th, representatives from GLOBALFOUNDRIES will participate on a panel at the 2013 Electronic Design Process Symposium (EDPS). The EDPS, which is now in its 20th year, features the “free exchange of ideas” among top industry influencers in chips and systems. GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ Fellows, Srinivasa Banna and Luigi Capodieci, will speak at 1 p.m. about FinFET foundry design enablement challenges.

Follow our Twitter and Facebook pages for more information and updates on these events.

What’s In A Name?

By Subi Kengeri

Consumers continue to demand smaller, faster and more energy-efficient electronic devices, driving the semiconductor industry to accelerate development of commercially viable chips on more advanced nodes. However, these new nodes don’t just appear by magic. It takes a great deal of careful planning to develop and deliver a process technology platform that offers competitiveness, differentiation, and manufacturability. This is the job of my team at GlobalFoundries. It always has been difficult, but the transition to 20nm and beyond presents a host of new challenges, requiring a fundamentally new approach to technology architecture and definition.

Over the past few nodes, SoC designers have grown accustomed to a roughly 30% reduction in die cost from node to node. But 20nm is the first node on which foundries introduced true double-patterning lithography, which increases manufacturing costs, largely dependent on the target application. So there has to be something else to prompt customers to adopt this new node. For example, it is critical that a technology platform deliver SoC product value and designability, and has to be optimized for the customer’s target application. At 20nm, we really began looking at the product level value for customers, which we define in terms of the optimum combination of performance, power and cost (PPC), in addition to other customer care-abouts.

We took this to a whole new level with our recently launched 14nm-XM offering. Once we had optimized PPC for our 20nm planar SoC offering, we looked at what it means to incorporate 3D FinFETs on the next node. Going from planar to FinFET gives us a step jump in performance and power, but minimal benefit in die size because we chose to use the fully optimzed middle and backend of line from 20nm-LPM. The key was to architect 14nm-XM to ensure the performance and power advantages outweigh the lack of area improvement and to ease designability on the first generation FinFET offering. Leveraging the 20nm-LPM competitive density advantages and using the most optimal 3D fin structure, we expect to get back on the historical 60% to 70% SoC PPC improvement trajectory. We also expect to see a big benefit in time-to-volume (on a node to node basis) because we will leverage key technology modules and PDKs from 20nm-LPM, which we believe will allow our customers to design concurrently and accelerate our FinFET high volume ramp by about one year.

Image

But one question I often get asked is, ‘Why do we call it a 14nm technology if it relies so much on 20nm?’ First of all, we are using a true 14nm-class FinFET as the front-end device, which qualifies it as a 14nm technology. But in reality the naming of nodes has become somewhat arbitrary over the past several nodes. A node used to be named based on the smallest transistor feature size, which was typically the channel length. But channel length scaling stopped at about 45nm, so the industry does not actually have a 28nm gate in a 28nm technology. Secondly, the point of moving to a new node is the delivery of value to the customer. They need to see a SoC level product value, which really translates to the PPC, and 14nm-XM offers a full node value. As long as customers see at least this level of value, they frankly don’t care what the technology is called or what is inside.

Now we need to find a way to deliver this same product level value at 10nm. The whole industry has quite a few challenges going to 10nm. FinFETs are scalable and will have a long life, but we will have already realized the performance and power value from the front-end device with 14nm-XM. We don’t expect extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography will be ready, at least not at the beginning of the node, which means we will have more layers that require multiple patterning and therefore significant cost increases. We will need to find other ways to provide performance and power benefits to deliver a total PPC to stay on the SoC value trajectory. We have been working on this and 7nm technologies for several years and we are very close to nailing down a competitive 10nm technology architecture. We are running 10nm devices in silicon and I am confident we will deliver the value our customers have come to expect.

For more detail on this topic, check out the recent interview with SemiMD’s Mark LaPedus, where we talk about FinFETs, EUV, and Moore’s Law.

Subramani “Subi” Kengeri is vice president of advanced technology architecture at GLOBALFOUNDRIES.

This post also appeared on Chip Design Magazine

Architecting Advanced Technologies: Not All FinFETs are Created Equal

By Gregg Bartlett

The explosion of popularity in mobile computing has sent shockwaves through the entire semiconductor ecosystem. Gartner researchers predict that smartphone shipments will jump from 178 million in 2009 to more than 800 million in 2013. And it’s not just the increasing number of smartphones that is changing the landscape, but it’s also the way people are using them. According to a recent study by KPCB, the average smartphone user is now spending approximately one hour per day—nearly 60% of the time on their device—on activities other than telephony and email, such as web browsing, map software, games, and social networking.

Of course this appetite for computation-intensive tasks is driving demand for more powerful processors, but battery Iife still remains a top priority, and battery technology has not kept up the pace with the increasing demand of smart mobile computing. This puts the responsibility for innovation squarely on the shoulders of Technology Architects and SoC designers, who have been forced to completely rethink their approach to delivering end-product value with each new technology generation.

At GLOBALFOUNDRIES, we saw the industry need for a new approach to technology definition to keep up with the rapidly changing needs of the market. As we got to 20nm and beyond, we saw a major shift: for the first time in the history of our industry, mobile SoCs are beginning to drive leading-edge process technology instead of discrete CPUs and GPUs. With this change in the market, we had to look at a different set of metrics to determine the value proposition of each new technology node. For example, the “performance at all costs” mentality that drove much of the innovation in recent years will not work in this brave new world. Neither will a myopic focus on just making better and more transistors to squeeze onto a piece of silicon.

Mobile SoCs require a delicate balance between performance and power consumption, while minimizing both die size and cost. At the same time, technologies must be architected for optimum manufacturability and ease of design, to ensure the critical value of Advanced Technology elements are reflected in the SoC Product Value, without getting lost in translation. Additionally, consideration needs to be given to SoC-level concerns beyond the transistor architecture, such as overall system-level performance and specific mobile applications needs.

The transition from 20nm to 14nm represents an important inflection point, and at GLOBALFOUNDRIES we have introduced a new technology that takes full advantage of the latest advances in device architecture while keeping the bigger SoC product-level picture in view. With our new 14nm-XM offering, we have accelerated our leading-edge roadmap to deliver a technology optimized for the fast-growing smart mobile computing market. 14nm-XM will give customers the performance and power benefits of three-dimensional “FinFET” transistors with less risk and a faster time-to-market, helping the fabless ecosystem maintain its leadership in mobility while enabling a new generation of smart mobile devices. The XM stands for “eXtreme Mobility,” and it is a cost-effective and power-optimized architecture that is ideally suited for mobile SoC designs, providing a whole product solution from the transistor all the way up to the system level.

Our 14nm-XM offering is based on a modular technology architecture that uses a 14nm FinFET device combined with elements of our 20nm-LPM process, which is well on its way to production. It leverages the proven Middle of Line (MOL) from 20nm-LPM with density and cost optimized design rules to enable 8T standard cells. Our 80nm single-patterned Back End of Line (BEOL) capability combined with high density 64nm 1X layer offers unique cost advantage and competes with industry-leading 14nm technology. Combine this with our unique “fin-friendly” layout rules for faster porting of existing design IP, and 14nm-XM is able to leverage the maturity of the 20nm-LPM technology to give SoC designers a smooth transition to FinFETs on an accelerated schedule.

Another critical aspect of delivering a fully SoC-optimized solution is the ability to leverage the entire ecosystem of industry expertise, from EDA and design solutions partners to IP providers. FinFET technology comes with new considerations, especially for the SoC design community.  Our process R&D and technology architecture teams have been working closely with both internal design teams as well as design ecosystem partners to co-optimize the technology and design environments to ensure remove all design barriers on the foundry industry’s first generation FinFET technology. In fact, we recently announced a new multi-year agreement with our longstanding partner ARM to jointly deliver optimized SoC solutions for advanced ARM mobile processor designs on FinFET technologies. You can read more about this partnership in a recent blog written by my colleague Mike Noonen, our executive vice president of marketing and sales.

As Mike noted, this new industry landscape presents a number of challenges beyond the technical hurdles of shrinking transistors. I believe that re-thinking our approach to technology architecture, while driving earlier and deeper collaboration across the entire ecosystem, will allow us to overcome these challenges and continue to deliver on the promise of Moore’s Law. The ultimate goal is to enable our customers to succeed in their respective businesses. And based on input from customers and partners, 14nm-XM is well positioned to fulfill this critical objective.

Gregg Bartlett is Chief Technology Officer at GLOBALFOUNDRIES. He is responsible for the company technology strategy, research, technology partnerships and alliances, and packaging technology development. He serves as the company’s primary spokesperson on technology matters. 

Breathing New Life into the Foundry-Fabless Business Model

By Mike Noonen

Early last week, GLOBALFOUNDRIES jointly announced with ARM another important milestone in our longstanding collaboration to deliver optimized SoC solutions for ARM® processor designs on GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ leading-edge process technology. We’re extending the agreement to include our 20nm planar offering, next-generation 3D FinFET transistor technology, and ARM’s Mali™ GPUs.

Our collaboration with ARM goes back many years, and its evolution parallels some of the critical developments in the larger semiconductor industry during the same timeframe. We began this work back when the 65nm node was the bleeding edge and our biggest concern was the integration of strained silicon to boost electron mobility. (Those were the days!) Of course today we face a daunting list of new challenges ranging from multiple patterning and EUV lithography to new device architectures such as high-k metal gate (HKMG) and FinFET. But the goal remains essentially the same: work together to deliver optimized designs and process technology to boost performance, reduce power consumption, and drive the value proposition of scaling for our customers.

ARM and GLOBALFOUNDRIES are collaborating to enable next-generation devices on 20nm and FinFET process technologies.

Yet this new landscape presents a number of challenges beyond the technical hurdles of shrinking transistors. Industry observers have long predicted that the fabless-foundry business model has some cracks in it. We in the foundry industry tend to dismiss such chatter as we continue to enjoy growth rates that outpace the overall semiconductor industry. But while we firmly believe the foundry model has a bright future, like all living organisms, we must continue to evolve. There are warning signs, both technical and economic, emerging in the foundry business that warrant our attention, and in fact require a re-thinking of how best to apply our resources and energy.
The solution, ironically, may be a move toward a more IDM-like model. Strategic collaboration that creates a ‘virtual IDM-like interface’ to chip design companies will help further close the gap between process teams at the manufacturing companies and design teams at the fabless companies. Collaboration – early, often and deep – is really the only practical approach given the cost and complexities involved.

The concept of the “Virtual IDM” is on full display in our partnership with ARM, perhaps most prominently in the project we launched in 2009 to optimize ARM’s Cortex™-A series processors on our 28nm technology. We worked closely together to develop a Technology Qualification Vehicle (TQV) strategy that allows us to optimize our advanced process technology for customer designs based on Cortex-A series processors. The solution is much more than a standard test chip. Each TQV is designed to emulate a full specification SoC and aims to improve performance, lower power consumption and facilitate a faster path to market for foundry customers.

This early and deep collaboration has resulted in several significant milestones, including the world’s first foundry optimized Cortex-A9 processorPOP™ IP for the Cortex-A9 processor operating at 1.6GHz on our 28nm-SLP technology, and a demonstration of more than 2GHz on our 28nm high-performance technology. This platform builds on the existing ARM Artisan® physical IP platforms for GLOBALFOUNDRIES processes at 65nm, 55nm and 28nm.

Now we are extending this collaboration to include true joint optimization for 20nm technologies and beyond, as well as a new focus on GPUs, which are becoming increasingly important in today’s smart mobile devices. The TQV strategy has already been scaled to 20nm and is an integral part of our process development, with a 20nm test chip implementation currently running through our Fab 8 in Saratoga County, N.Y.

And while we are seeing great dividends from this collaboration, the real hard work is only just beginning. We are now leveraging historical synergies from 28nm and 20nm planar technology to enable a smooth migration to next-generation, three-dimensional FinFET technology. One of the well publicized benefits of FinFET technology is its superior low-power attributes. The intrinsic capability of the 3D transistor to operate at a lower Vdd translates to longer battery life, which is heavily sought after in performance-hungry mobile computing applications. Our collaboration is focused tightly on this sweet spot in the market, where designers are looking for the optimum combination of performance, power-consumption, area, and cost. Our co-development work with ARM will enable a faster time to FinFET SoC solutions for customers using ARM’s next generation of mobile SoC IP for both CPUs and GPUs.

So clearly the foundry-fabless business model is not collapsing, but rather adapting to meet the challenges of today. Success will be a result of much closer joint development at the technology definition level, early engagement at the architectural stage, and a more integrated and cooperative ecosystem – precisely the kind of collaboration that we’re demonstrating with our valued partner ARM.

This post originally appeared on ARM’s Soc Design blog.

Mike Noonen is Executive Vice President, Worldwide Marketing and Sales, for GLOBALFOUNDRIES. In this role, he is responsible for global customer relationships as well as all marketing, sales, customer engineering and quality functions.