GlobalFoundries charts road to 14-nm

by Rick Merritt , TechOnline India - September 01, 2011

In the latest look down its road map, GlobalFoundries claims it is shipping thousands of 32-nm wafers a week, gearing up multiple 28-nm offerings for 2012 and planning first customer tape outs using a planar 20-nm process at the end of next year.

Santa Clara, California:

In the latest look down its road map, GlobalFoundries claims it is shipping thousands of 32-nm wafers a week, gearing up multiple 28-nm offerings for 2012 and planning first customer tape outs using a planar 20-nm process at the end of next year.

The company's recent partnership with Amkor Technology will help pave a path to new kinds of 3-D ICs, potentially at 28 and 20 nm. In addition it has ordered an extreme ultraviolet lithography system to be installed late next year that may be tested out in a 20-nm process and applied for work at 14 nm.

GlobalFoundries will sketch out its road map at its annual Global Technology Conference here Tuesday (Aug. 30). "We are producing 65-, 45-, 32- and 28-nm chips and shipping to more than one customer from our Dresden fab," said Ajit Manocha, interim chief executive of the company in an interview with EE Times.

The company has 150 customers including its former owner Advanced Micro Devices and customers of Chartered Semiconductor it acquired in 2009.

GlobalFoundries will name a permanent chief executive by the end of the year. Meanwhile, it has no plans on

the table for any additional acquisitions, but it is studying the feasibility of building a fab in Abu Dhabi, home of its majority shareholder, Advanced Technology Investment Co. (ATIC).

The Dresden fab is shipping thousands of 32-nm high-K, metal gate wafers per week "on traditional yield curves," said Gregg Bartlett, senior vice president of R&D at GlobalFoundries. "Thirty-two nanometer HKMG is very challenging technology, but that transition is now behind us," he said.

The next goal is bringing up a handful of 28-nm processes sometime in 2012. At the event, the company will

demonstrate a 3 GHz version of a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 chip made in its high performance 28-nm process and a 2 GHz version made in a low power flavor as early proof points of the node.

It will also describe a new high performance, low power 28-nm process geared for smartphone, tablets and

notebooks it will release in tandem with Samsung. Compared to a 45-nm node, the new process could cut active power 60 percent while maintaining chip frequency or boost performance 55 percent while maintaining power leakage levels, it claimed.

Four 300-mm fabs will qualify the technology. GlobalFoundries' Fab 1 in Dresden and Fab 8 in New York along with Samsung's S1 in Korea and S2 in Austin, Texas.

 

To 20-nm and beyond

Separately, GlobalFoundries taped out its first 20-nm test chip. The company aims to make a planar process available in high performance and low power versions with first production tape outs anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Bartlett said the planar process will provide finer scaling and use fewer layers of double patterned 193-nm immersion lithography than Intel's 22-nm tri-gate transistor announced earlier this year. "We think our process provides the right balance for mobile systems that are concerned with performance, power and cost," he said.

Looking farther down the road, GlobalFoundries has ordered an ASML 3300 extreme ultraviolet lithography
machine to be delivered to its New York fab at the end of 2012. It will try to prove out the EUV technology in a late version of the 20-nm node, but the company doesn't expect EUV to be required until the 14-nm node.

In packaging, customers will demand new kinds of 3-D chip stacks late in the 28-nm node or early in the 20-nm node, Bartlett predicted. Big graphics and networking chips will demand 3-D chip stacks using interposers. Mobile apps processors want 3-D stacks using through silicon vias, he said.

"The market is beginning to crystallize around certain subsets where system designers want to have that capability in hand," he said. But "the supply chain is nearly as complex as the technical solutions" for advanced 3-D ICs, he added.

Thus GlobalFoundries struck a co-development agreement in advanced packaging with Amkor Technology. It expects to strike similar deals with other companies to create a broader alliance of packaging partners.

Meanwhile Manocha said he is making it his top priority to get close to customers to develop reference accounts GlobalFoundries can talk about publicly. Manocha has not yet met the new chief executive of his biggest customer, Rory Read, named to head AMD last week.

GlobalFoundries has no acquisition plans on the table at this point, Manocha said. However it does have a team of 30 people in Abu Dhabi studying the feasibility of building a fab there someday, a goal of ATIC.

 

 

 

"We have identified a location for the fab near the airport, so the question is when not if and the when part has not been addressed yet—it depends on how the business grows," he said. "The Abu Dhabi leadership decided to diversify its [oil] economy, and make semiconductors the seed for other high tech industries that will mushroom out of it into areas such as solar panels and LEDs," Manocha said.

 

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