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Archive for November, 2015

RF-SOI Roars Back Into The Headlines

Friday, November 27th, 2015

By Adele HARS

Articles about chips built on RF-SOI technology are back in the headlines. What’s driving it? Data – lots of it, and at ever higher speeds, finding its way in and out of your mobile device.

Bear in mind that we’re talking now about RF-SOI, which is not the same thing as RF in FD-SOI. These RF-SOI chips serve front-end module (FEM) functions, and are designed specifically for the special needs of getting a lot of data transmitted wirelessly, often over relatively long distances. They handle the back-and-forth of signals between the transceiver and the antenna. Today it would be practically impossible to find a smartphone that doesn’t have an RF FEM based on RF-SOI wafer technology. And the advent of 4G/LTE/LTE-A (and next, 5G) only serves to drive this market to new heights.

(In a recent ASN post, we explained the differences between RF-SOI and FD-SOI with RF – if you missed it, you can still read it here.)

By way of background, the current RF buzz is aligning with lots of activity on the world standards stage. The ITU (International Telecommunications Union), which sets time lines and processes, has just finished up its Radiocommunication Assembly (RA-15), where it approved the IMT-2020 Resolution, paving the way for 5G mobile systems (press release here). That puts 5G rolling out in 2020. If you’re really going to connect all the things in the big IoT picture, you’re going to need a whole lot more bandwidth.

But in the meantime, driven by video, even the current move from 3G to 4G/LTE-A is massive when it comes to what your mobile device has to handle. FEM designers are working all out to accommodate this, and new generations of SOI substrates are key to making it happen.

Check out this graphic from Cisco’s Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update 2014–2019 White Paper, showing a CAGR of 57% in mobile data through 2019 – so this is in the 4G to LTE-A time frame.

CiscoVNI_white_paper_c11-520862_1Cisco Forecasts 24.3 Exabytes per Month of Mobile Data Traffic by 2019 (Courtesy: Cisco VNI Mobile, 2015)

And the just-released Ericsson Mobility Report (get it here) sees a huge increase in M2M (machine-to-machine – an essential of IoT) and consumer cellular and non-cellular hitting the airwaves in the next five years.

EricssonNov15conndevA connected device is “…a physical object that has an IP stack, enabling two-way communication over a network interface.” (Source: Ericsson Mobility Report, November 2015.)

So, new solutions are needed, and RF-SOI is at the heart of it. Here’s a quick round-up of important pieces you won’t want to miss.

Microwave Journal

MicrowaveJcover_RFSOI_Oct15RF-SOI was the cover story and in the technical features of the October 2015 issue of the prestigious Microwave Journal (click here for that October digital edition).

Just to put it in perspective, getting published in the Microwave Journal is a holy grail for RF engineers. For over 50 years, it’s been the leading RF and microwave technology publication, with all peer-reviewed articles. So for RF-SOI to take center stage there is a blockbuster – it just doesn’t get much better than that. Here are the links:

Semiwiki goes to GF

Industry guru Scotten Jones wrote in semiwiki.com about the key role of RF-SOI in GF’s strategy. This was gleaned from a recent trip to the (ex-IBM) fab in Burlington, VT. His wrap-up, GlobalFoundries Visit – Part 2 – Waking the Sleeping Giant (see it here) provides new insight into just how important RF-SOI is for the company.

The article contains a link to the slide deck of the presentation given to them by the folks at GF. It’s tremendous – if you’re at all interested in RF-SOI, you really should look at it. You can access it directly here.

As recounted in the article, GF’s Burlington fab has shipped more than 18 billion RF-SOI devices since IBM first announced the their RF-SOI process back in 2007. They’ve had more than 1450 tape-outs. The 60,000 wafer/month RF-SOI market is driven by tuner and switch apps. By virtue of putting these apps on SOI rather than using III-V materials, they reduce costs and are able to integrate key logic and control functionality.

(Source: semiwiki.com and GlobalFoundries)

Check out this GF slide showing the massive growth they’re projecting:

GF_RFSOI_SAMapps(Source: semiwiki.com and GlobalFoundries)

And here’s the roadmap that says it all:

GF_RFSOI_roadmap

(Source: semiwiki.com and GlobalFoundries)

Elsewhere in the news, there have also been a number of new RF-SOI-based products announced. We’ll be expanding on those in the ASN Buzz, so stay tuned!

FD-SOI Everywhere: GF & Samsung Videos, Press, Conferences and More – A Quick Roundup

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

By Adele HARS

GlobalFoundries video

Info on GlobalFoundries 22nm FD-SOI offering just keeps on coming. Following the ASN roundup of info from the summer and fall (missed it? read it here), they’ve posted yet another excellent FD-SOI video:GF22_FDSOI_BodyBias_video

How to optimize power and performance with 22FDX™ Platform body-biasing – Dr. Jamie Schaeffer gives a quick (under 3 minute) guide to the basics of front and reverse body-biasing, and the GF approach to a dynamic trade-off between power and performance . He explains how forward body bias (FBB) boosts performance at both high and low voltages, and how reverse body bias (RBB) cuts leakage for the lowest standby power. He also touches on FBB techniques for analog/RF designs.

Samsung video

Samsung28FDSOI_runnersThey’re back! Though they’ve been pretty quiet recently, this latest Samsung video on their 28nm FD-SOI foundry offering hits right at the heart of IoT. Entitled The IoT Revolution and Samsung Foundry’s 28nm FD-SOI, the fun two-minute spot features two runners talking shop during a break. She asks: Is there a lot of design ecosystem support for FD-SOI? He answers: Absolutely. And he goes on to talk about the EDA/IP ecosystem they’re building. It ends on this tantalizing note: He: So you’re done? She: Not! Race you to the next station!He: Oh, it’s on!

SemiWiki.com

With reader interest high and higher, FD-SOI continues to get great coverage in SemiWiki.com. Here are some recent good reads:

IP-SoC Rebound in 2015 ! – IP expert Eric Esteve covers FD-SOI highlights from the upcoming IP-SOC 2015 conference in Grenoble, France (2-3 December 2015), including these presentations (full program here):

  • FDSOI is taking on speed as platform and a European focus project by Gerd Teepe, GlobalFoundries
  • FDSOI IP Shop: The key enabler of success by Patrick Blouet, Collaborative program manager, STMicroelectronics
  • Strategies for SoC / IP Design for Emerging Applications: An Indian perspective by Samir Patel, Sankalp Semiconductor
  • Assessing and managing the IP Sourcing Risk by Philippe Quinio, STMicroelectronics
  • Power Planning and Timing Signoff Solutions by SOI guru and ARM Fellow Jean-Luc Pelloie
  • FD-SOI a New Era for Power Efficiency: Why and How? By Olivier Thomas, Silicon Impulse, CEA – LETI (btw, if you missed his excellent ASN piece explaining Leti’s Silicon Impulse program, you can still read it here)

28nm FD-SOI: A Unique Sweet Spot Poised to Grow – Pawan Fangaria explains why “…today the 28nm FD-SOI technology node stands to win as the best value added proposition for the emerging markets such as IoT, automotive, consumer, mobile, and so on.”

Globalfoundries 22FDX Technology Shows Advantages in PPA over 28nm Node – Tom Simon was at ARM Techcon, where he attended a talk sponsored by Cadence on the topic of using GlobalFoundries 22nm FD-SOI process to implement a quad core ARM Cortex-A17. He shares a number of the key slides in this informative blog.

SemiEngineering

SemiEngineering Editor-in-Chief Ed Sperling continues his great line-up of incisive interviews. In Increasing Challenges At Advanced Nodes, he gets some spot-on FD-SOI quotes from GlobalFoundries CTO Gary Patton, including:

  • “It’s great that you get finFET performance at 28nm cost. But what’s really interesting for me is that you get software control. You can turn chips, blocks and circuits on and off. It’s a whole new degree of freedom for the designer.”
  • “ I believe 22nm FD-SOI fits the sweet spot.”
  • “We wouldn’t do 14nm FD-SOI. We would want a bigger jump than that. It would something closer to 10nm.[…] …it would be planar. If you go to finFET, you would lose the back body biasing. That’s a key attribute.”

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