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  • FDSOI jump-start 2015 in Tokyo this week

    This news in May 2014 that Samsung had licensed FD-SOI Technology from ST-Microelectronics was really amazing, as most of the industry was expecting this kind of agreement, but not with the #2 SC Company. But since May 2014 the news flow has been quite reduced, we can imagine that both SC companies had a lot work to do for transforming the agreement into real. Transferring a complete new process is certainly a heavy task (but I am not an expert), building an efficient ASIC flow, including EDA tools and maybe as much important the right IP offer can take several quarters. It seems that Samsung will unveil their FD-SOI offer during the RF-SOI and FD-SOI Forum, organized by the SOI consortium in Tokyo this Friday, January 23rd. If you don’t travel to Tokyo this week (I don’t) you will have to wait for the proceedings to be released, it will certainly be worth the search on: RF-SOI and FD-SOI Forum

    Article: Elpida and Japan Inc-soi-forum.jpg

    If you are not familiar with SOI, let’s me clarify the difference: RF-SOI is dedicated to pure analog IC (Radio Frequency), as the Silicon On Insulator technology provides strong advantages for analog designs: “Devices formed on SOI substrates offer many advantages over their bulk counterparts, including absence of reverse body effect, absence of latch-up, soft-error immunity, and elimination of junction capacitance typically encountered in bulk silicon devices. SOI technology therefore enables higher speed performance, higher packing density, and reduced power consumption.” This sentence is extracted from this blog.

    Samsung has licensed Fully Depleted (FD)-SOI, which technology is dedicated to digital designs. The supported nodes are 28nm (already in production at ST) and 14nm currently in development if not prototyping. We have covered the various application supported by FD-SOI ASIC at ST. It was surprising, but the mobile was not the preferred application! 28nm FD-SOI can also target performance hungry networking application and you can check in this recent blog for the mention of ST design-win of a communication infrastructure ASIC in 14nm FD-SOI. Nevertheless, Samsung foundry business is likely to target the very high volume applications, and what is higher than mobile? FD-SOI can provide the Holy Grail feature for an Application Processor: Ultra Low-Power and Performance.

    Article: Elpida and Japan Inc-agenda.jpg

    If you take a look at the FD-SOI part of the agenda, the foundry ecosystem is represented by ST and Samsung, and I am very anxious to read Samsung presentation (and to report it in Semiwiki)… be patient.

    Any designer knows that the technology availability is necessary, but no more sufficient to cope with the Time to Market and integration requirement. A complete Ecosystem has to include a strong IP (and EDA obviously) offer. The large and fast growing IP vendors, Synopsys and Cadence are presenting in Tokyo. You may be surprised not seeing ARM (the undisputed #1 vendor), but don’t worry: one of the very first chip released by ST a couple of years ago was an Application Processor, integrating ARM 9 core, and more recently an AP integrating ARM® Cortex™-A53 and Cortex™-A57 64-bit processor on 28nm FD-SOI.

    The presence of Verisilicon in this agenda is very important, as the ASIC Company is very strong on the Chinese market. When I met with Mark Ma, traveling from China to IP-SoC in Grenoble last November, his first question was about FD-SOI. The technology is clearly becoming hot, generating a real interest in the country…

    This SOI Forum taking place in Japan, having a company like Sony sharing about their design experiences with FD-SOI is almost a symbol: FD-SOI penetration in consumer application has started (if you agree to include mobile into consumer, as a smartphone or a tablet is definitely a consumer oriented product).

    Next “rendez vous”: SOI Forum in San Francisco on February 27th, I was told that new names will be added to this agenda, we will disclose it as soon as it will be official, but I am sure you can guess who is missing in Tokyo and should be present in California!
    From Eric Esteve from IPNEST