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Archive for September, 2012

;1-4 OCT, NAPA

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Posted by Adele Hars, Editor-in-Chief, Advanced Substrate News

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The 38th annual SOI Conference is coming right up. Sponsored by IEEE Electron Devices Society, this is the only dedicated SOI conference covering the full technology chain from materials to devices, circuits and system applications.

Chaired this year by Gosia Jurczak (manager of the Memories Program at imec), this excellent conference is well worth attending. It’s where the giants of the SOI-related research community meet the leading edge of industry. But there are also excellent courses for those new to the technology. And it’s all in an atmosphere that’s at once high-powered yet intimate and collegial, out of the media spotlight.

This year it will be held 1-4 October at the Meritage Resort and Spa, a Napa Valley luxury hotel and resort, set against rolling hills with its own private vineyards. Finding the right spot for this conference is key. One of the things that people really like about it is that in addition to the excellent speakers and presentations, the locations are conducive to informal discussions and networking across multiple fields. This year’s spot looks like the perfect setting, with easy access to Silicon Valley.

The 2012 IEEE SOI Conference will be held October 1-4 at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa Valley, California. (Photo Credit: Rex Gelert)

The Conference includes a three-day Technical Program, a Short Course, a Fundamentals Class, and an evening Panel Discussion. Here’s a look at what’s on tap for this year.

(You can get the pdf of the full program & registration information from the website.)


ARM’s SOI guru Jean-Luc Pelloie chaired this year’s Technical Program committee, which selected 33 papers for the technical sessions. There will also be 18 invited talks given by world renowned experts in process, SOI device and circuits design and architectures and SOI-specific applications like MEMS, high temperature and rad-hard.

Here’s a rundown of the sessions:

  1. Plenary: talks by Soitec and ARM
  2. Fully-Depleted SOI: topics include Ground Plane Optimization for 20nm, strain, process & design considerations. GF will present the foundry’s perspective on the move to 28nm FD-SOI and beyond. Also contributors from ST, Leti, Soitec, IBM, GSS/U.Glasgow and more.
  3. FinFET and Fully Depleted SOI: topics include Tri-Gate, SOI-FinFET, Flash Memory, strain solutions, flexible Vth. Contributors include Leti, AMD, Soitec, Synopsys, imec, UCL, AIST and UCBerkeley.
  4. Poster session: from universities & research institutes supported by industry (IBM, Samsung, etc.)
  5. RF and Circuits: topics include high-performance RF, tunable antennas, TSVs. Contributors include Skyworks, ST, Xilinx and leading universities in China.
  6. Memory: contributors from IMEP, ST, TI, R&D institutes and academia
  7. Novel Devices and Substrate Engineering: topics include nanowires, strained SOI wafers and III-V devices, with contributions from Tokyo Tech, Toshiba, IBM, Soitec, Leti and more.
  8. MEMS and Photonics: includes an invited talk by U. Washington on their Intel-sponsored photonics foundry service and papers from MIT and more.
  9. RF and Circuits: covering high-voltage, high-temperature, with contributions from Cissoid, IBM, UCL and more.
  10. Hot Topics: Fully-Depleted Technology and Design Platforms: six invited talks by ST, IBM, CMP, GF, UC Berkeley and the SOI Consortium.
  11. Late News: tbd, of course…


Short course: Design Enablement for Planar FD & FinFET/Multi-gates (chaired by UCL & Leti) The conference kicks off on Monday with six sessions by experts in technological trends, the physics of fully depleted devices, technology design kits as well as digital, analog and RF designs specific for FD-SOI.

The fundamentals course: FinFET physics (chaired by Intel): on Wednesday afternoon, three hour-long sessions will give comprehensive insights into the physics and processes related to multi-gate FETs.

Panel: Is FinFET the only option at 14nm? (chaired by Soitec) Following the always-popular Wednesday evening cookout, the panel discussion is a lively, favorite event. This year’s invited distinguished experts — Scott Luning (GF), Ali Khakifirooz (IBM), Yang Du (Qualcomm). and moderator Sorin Cristoloveanu (Grenoble Institute of Technology) – will share their views on the industry’s FinFET roadmap.

All in all, it’s a great event. If you go, why not share your impressions on Twitter with #SOIconf12, @followASN and @IEEEorg? And of course ASN will follow-up with summaries of the top papers in our PaperLinks section. See you there?


Power And Performance: GSS Sees SOI Advantages For FinFETs

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Posted by Adele Hars, Editor-in-Chief, Advanced Substrate News

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Are FinFETs better on SOI? In a series of papers, high-profile blogs and subsequent media coverage,Gold Standard Simulations (aka GSS) has indicated that, yes, FinFETs should indeed be better on SOI.

To those of us not deeply involved in the research world, much of this may seem to come out of nowhere.  But there’s a lot of history here, and in this blog we’ll take a look at what it’s all about, and connect a few dots.


GSS is a recent spin-off of Scotland’s University of Glasgow – but there’s nothing new to the research community about these folks.  The core GSS-U.Glasgow team has been presenting important papers on device modeling at IEDM (which is one of the most prestigious of our industry’s conferences) and elsewhere for many years.

At the risk of stating the obvious, accurate simulations are incredibly important. Technologists need to be able to predict what results they can expect from different possible transistor design options before selecting the most promising ones.  Then they also need to provide reliable models to designers who will use them before committing chips to silicon.  One of the biggest challenges is predicting variability, which as we all know is getting worse as transistors scale to ever-smaller dimensions.

At IEDM ’11 last December, GSS-U.Glasgow presented Statistical variability and reliability in nanoscale FinFETs. This covered  “A comprehensive full-scale 3D simulation study of statistical variability and reliability in emerging, scaled FinFETs on SOI substrate with gate-lengths of 20nm, 14nm and 10nm and low channel doping…”.  Essentially they concluded that scaling FinFETs on SOI should be no problem – and in fact the statistical variability of a 10nm FinFET on SOI would be about the same as the industry’s currently seeing in 45nm bulk CMOS.

That paper was based on work that the GSS-U.Glasgow team had done on two major European projects: the EU ENIAC MODERN project, and the EU FP7 TRAMS project.  It’s perhaps worth looking a little more closely at what those projects are about – and who’s involved:

  • A key objective of the MODERN (for Modeling and Design of Reliable, process variation-awareNanoelectronic devices, circuits and systems) is to develop “effective methods for evaluating the impact of process variations on manufacturability, design reliability and circuit performance”.  Other partners in the project include ST, Leti, NXP, Infineon, Numonyx (now Micron) and Synopsys.
  • The objective of the TRAMS (for ‘Tera-scale Reliable Adaptive Memory Systems’) project is “to investigate in depth potential new design alternatives and paradigms, which will be able to provide reliable memory systems out of highly unreliable nanodevices at a reasonable cost and design effort”. Other partners in the project include Intel, imec, and UPC/BarcelonaTech.


A few months later, when Chipworks published pictures of the (bulk silicon) Intel 22nm FinFETs, the folks at GSS started a series of blogs that caught the attention of major tech pubs such as EE TimesElectronics Weekly and EDN.  For reference, here are the blogs and basically what they concluded:

Specifically, the July 27th blog indicated that if FinFETs are rectangular in shape, drive current would be 12-15% better.  Would that be easier to do on an SOI wafer? Soitec has argued that their “fin-first” SOI-based approach to FinFET manufacturing will save both time & money while getting better results (see Soitec’s Wafer Roadmap for Fully Depleted Planar and 3D/FinFET in Semiconductor Manufacturing & Design).

The GSS blog also reminded readers that the company’s CEO and founder, Asen Asenov (an extremely heavy hitter who’s published over 550 papers), has hinted that “…SOI FinFETs with an almost ideal rectangular shape may be a better solution for future FinFET scaling”.  GSS has noted previously that “FinFETs built on an SOI substrate could have significant advantages terms of simpler processing, better process control and reduced statistical variability”.

Fin shape aside, GSS said that by virtue of the layer of insulation, SOI would give another 5% boost to FinFET drive current.  But perhaps more importantly, that layer of insulation in SOI-based FinFETs would deliver on average 2.5 times less leakage – which would translate into a doubling of battery-life for your cell phone.


IBM has now entered into an agreement with GSS et al on a project called StatDES, for Statistical Design and Verification of Analogue Systems – see last month’s IBM blog by IBM Research Scientist Dr. Sani Nassif, entitledFins on transistors change processor power and performance”.

Dr. Nassif writes, “IBM, University of Glasgow and the Scottish Funding Council are collaborating on a project to simulate 3D microprocessor transistors at a mere 14 nanometer scale (the virus that causes the common cold is more than twice as large at 32 nanometers). Using a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) substrate, the FinFET (fin field-effect transistor) project, called StatDES, promises to keep improving microprocessor performance and energy conservation.”

The steering group also includes folks from ST, Freescale, Wolfson and Cadence, so one would guess we’ll be hearing more from this project – and others like it, to be sure – in the future, wouldn’t you think?