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Thread: Advances in Logic IC Process Technology Move Forward

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    Advances in Logic IC Process Technology Move Forward

    Despite increasing development costs, IC manufacturers continue to make great strides.

    The advancement of the IC industry hinges on the ability of IC manufacturers to continue offering more performance and functionality for the money. As mainstream CMOS processes reach their theoretical, practical, and economic limits, lowering the cost of ICs (on a per-function or per-performance basis) is more critical and challenging than ever. The 500-page, 2019 edition of IC Insights' McClean Report—A Complete Analysis and Forecast of the Integrated Circuit Industry (released in January 2019) shows that there is more variety than ever among the logic-oriented process technologies that companies offer. Figure 1 lists several of the leading advanced logic technologies that companies are presently using. Derivative versions of each process generation between major nodes have become regular occurrences.




    Intel - Its ninth-generation processors unveiled in late 2018 have the code-name “Coffee Lake-S” or, sometimes called “Coffee Lake Refresh.” Intel says these processors are a new generation of products, but they seem to be more of an enhancement of the eighth-generation products. Details are scarce, but these processors appear to be manufactured on an enhanced version of the 14nm++ process, or what might be considered a 14nm+++ process.

    Mass production using its 10nm process will ramp in 2019 with the new “Sunny Cove” family of processors that it unveiled in December 2018. It appears that the Sunny Cove architecture has essentially taken the place of the 10nm Cannon Lake architecture that was supposed to be released in 2019. In 2020, a 10nm+ derivative process is expected to go into mass production.

    TSMC - TSMC's 10nm finFET process entered volume production in late 2016 but it has moved quickly from 10nm to 7nm. TSMC believes the 7nm generation will be a long-lived node like 28nm and 16nm.

    TSMC's 5nm process is under development and scheduled to enter risk production in the first half of 2019, with volume production coming in 2020. The process will use EUV, but it will not be the first of TSMC's processes to take advantage of EUV technology. The first will be an improved version of the company’s 7nm technology. The N7+ process will employ EUV only on critical layers (four layers), while the N5 process will use EUV extensively (up to 14 layers). N7+ is scheduled to enter volume production in the second quarter of 2019.

    Samsung - In early 2018, Samsung started mass production of a second-generation 10nm process called 10LPP (low power plus). Later in 2018, Samsung introduced a third-generation 10nm process called 10LPU (low power ultimate) that provided another performance increase. Samsung uses triple patterning lithography at 10nm. Unlike TSMC, Samsung believes its 10nm family of processes (including 8nm derivatives) will have a long lifecycle.

    Samsung's 7nm technology went into risk production in October 2018. The company skipped offering a 7nm process with immersion lithography and decided instead to move directly to a EUV-based 7nm process. The company is using EUV for 8-10 layers at 7nm.

    GlobalFoundries - GF views and markets its 22nm FD-SOI process as being complementary to its 14nm finFET technology. The company says the 22FDX platform delivers performance very close to that of finFET, but with manufacturing costs the same as 28nm technology.

    In August 2018, GlobalFoundries made a major shift in strategy by announcing it would halt 7nm development because of the enormous expense in ramping production at that technology node and because there were too few foundry customers planning to use the next-generation process. As a result, the company shifted its R&D efforts to further enhance its 14nm and 12nm finFET processes and its fully depleted SOI technologies.

    For five decades, there have been amazing improvements in the productivity and performance of integrated circuit technology. While the industry has surmounted many obstacles put in front of it, it seems the barriers keep getting bigger. Despite this, IC designers and manufacturers are developing solutions that seem more revolutionary than evolutionary to increase chip functionality.



    PDF Version of This Bulletin

    A PDF version of this Research Bulletin can be downloaded from our website at http://www.icinsights.com/news/bulletins/

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    I was a big supporter of Samsung foundry. But after speaking with Imec. I was told their customers that use Samsung on the advanced nodes have been disappointed. The yields are pretty bad. TSMC is a bit more expensive but you'd get what you pay for. I don't see how Samsung will compete at 5nm even though they have that mix diffusion break technology.

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    Dan, any thoughts on shrink in MEMS? Also, what foundries do you see leading in the MEMS race and will they be a significant portion of the foundry business in the future? Any comments or thoughts on this would be appreciated.

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    TSMC is the foundry that will lead MEMs in my opinion. Unfortunately MEMs is small so not a big impact on wafers and yes MEMs will shrink even smaller.

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    Dan, Thanks for the information. I feel we are in the very early stages of MEMS, as Morris Chang clearly stated that he felt they are one of the largest opportunities in the future, but gave no time line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Hanson View Post
    Dan, Thanks for the information. I feel we are in the very early stages of MEMS, as Morris Chang clearly stated that he felt they are one of the largest opportunities in the future, but gave no time line.
    In my view MEMs is a semiconductor enabler not a driver.

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    I'll pay for the improved performance. First chance I get for a 10mms Intel processor and a better fire tablet I'll take it.

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    Not a fan of apple. Great a11 processor but their ai sucks. Apple is dumping Intel for their Macs which I think it's a dumb idea.

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    To be honest I think that this is a very sane movement from Apple. At least for their baseline models such as MacMini, iMac, MacBook. For a Mac Pro and MacBook Pro I guess it will take some more time. The crucial question is not what happens in hardware but what happens in software and whether we are going to witness an iOS-ication of the MacOS or a MacOS-ication of the iOS. Apple has been steadily moving away from real workstation class systems and applications (especially the latter) so my bets are that we are going to see a more capable iOS taking over which is bad.

    But on the other hand, should Apple provide real desktop systems based on ARM processors, I can see many many developers jumping ship on these machines to work on native ARM development and I could see a very positive uprise on the quality of the ARM software out there. The chances of seeing ARM-based servers catching up are going to be much bigger and I think that this is something to worry Intel far more than loosing a high-profile customer such as Apple. Historically (though in reverse) I think this is what happened when Apple moved away from PowerPC and ARM gained tremendously from that, since at that point PowerPC was much more relevant in the embedded world. I strongly believe that the architecture that can land capable workstations to developers at sane prices (and not development board prices) is the one that can prevail in the server space. If Apple does not move forward with ARM-based PCs, I think that at some point ARM and ARM licensees will need to understand that this is the only way that they can move decisively forward. OpenPOWER should also consider that too. And of course, eventually RISC-V too. Till now, all architectures that failed to do such thing or stopped offering such systems, eventually failed or became irrelevant. Cloud systems and cloud development is only a stop gap but not a solution. ARM owes at least part of its success in the embedded space simply because it managed to land inexpensive embedded devices to a mass developer crowd. To make the next step up, it will need to do that for workstation systems. Apple is the trojan horse. If I were at ARM, I would give a massive discount at Apple licenses on the promise to release ARM-based desktop systems.


    On the AI side, I am not at all in a position to know the quality of their solution. I can see a problem that stems from them being behind in AI from other major players such as Google, but on the other hand this is an accelerator IP block. I am pretty sure that if they get really really serious about it, they can afford to buy the best provider of AI-related IP out there or at least a team that seems to be heading the right way. Things are very volatile and "young" in this space, so it is both hard and easy to get in a good position. Hard because the field is not trivial, not standardized, requires a lot of knowledge (and art) and data that Apple seems to be lagging compared to other giants out there. At the same time building these accelerator blocks seems "easier" at this stage than building a processor architecture and implementation that can play with the big boys out there. Either way, from an engineering point of view (and from someone that is not working with Macs and does not worry what happens with Apple :P ), the whole thing of Apple moving forward with ARM-based Macs is very interesting!

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    I think both Apple and Microsoft will get decimated by Amazon and Google many times. One of the reasons is their weak ai. If I want a fun tablet that is a medium for pop culture I'll get a kindle fire. If I want a desktop that is an office workhorse I'll get a chrome book with Google assistant. There will be niches for Apple and Microsoft but both are sort of falling out of the mainstream.

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    I dont really think that kindle fire will get you much in pop-culture (maybe Alexa would be a better choice?) as I also dont think that at this point Google Assistant is a critical component for an office workhorse. What is the killer feature of the assistant that makes it an office workhorse? At the moment, I believe that we have it the opposite... there are niches that Apple and Microsoft wont cover at the moment and Google does, but we have a long way before they fall out of mainstream (if ever).

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingmouf View Post
    I dont really think that kindle fire will get you much in pop-culture (maybe Alexa would be a better choice?) as I also dont think that at this point Google Assistant is a critical component for an office workhorse. What is the killer feature of the assistant that makes it an office workhorse? At the moment, I believe that we have it the opposite... there are niches that Apple and Microsoft wont cover at the moment and Google does, but we have a long way before they fall out of mainstream (if ever).
    Apple wants control of their silicon so using AXSoCs in MACs makes complete sense and should have happened a long time ago. I use both Alexa and Siri and find both to be equally engaging but far from a workhorse. And sometime they just get lost in space which is a problem for mission critical stuff. After years of use I must say that they are getting better but nothing I would trust my life with.

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    I'm seeing google and amazon encroaching on Microsoft's and Apple's territory more and more, stuff like amazon coming out with their own gaming console or google with their own chromebook, phone and pixel tablet. I'm assuming stuff like google assistant, alexa, the fire tablet will continue to improve and apple and microsoft will be left in the dust. In a way it already happened because there was a time microsoft and apple were the king of tech and they're not anymore.

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    On the AI side, I am not at all in a position to know the quality of their solution. I can see a problem that stems from them being behind in AI from other major players such as Google, but on the other hand this is an accelerator IP block. I am pretty sure that if they get really really serious about it, they can afford to buy the best provider of AI-related IP out there or at least a team that seems to be heading the right way. T












































    Adam4adam TutuApp AppValley

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    Odd that a chart released in Jan 2019 would still show GF 7nm.

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