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FD-SOI Going Mainstream

Experts at the Table, part 1: What previously was a niche technology has finally found a comfortable market on the fine line between finFETs and established nodes.

ED SPERLING, Jul. 19, 2018 – 

L-R: James Lamb, Giorgio Cesana, Olivier Vatel, Carlos Mazure.

SE: We've been hearing about FD-SOI for years, but it was always something that was going to be important at some future node. It seems to be really gaining traction now? What's changed?

Mazure: It takes a while to develop technologies and to bring it to a certain maturity. If you step back, the benefits and potential of FD-SOI were underlined by Chenming Hu of the University of California at Berkeley. He is well known today as the inventor of finFETs, but he brought up a planar version as well as the vertical version. This was early 2000s. At the time, the technology was not there. But since then the technology has improved, which made this path possible. That's one of the first hurdles we had to overcome. From there we had to get the whole ecosystem moving. It's not just the substrate that had to move. Leti played a very important role in the development of the initial FD-SOI devices. Soitec was instrumental in developing the FD-SOI substrate. We worked very closely at ST with the IBM Alliance in Albany. At the time, the issue was what part of the specification we needed to meet to make this a reality. Nobody was going to move from a known problem to an unknown solution that may have problems. So there was some very good work done there with ST, Soitec and IBM. When manufacturability became a reality, all ecosystems began to accelerate. This was in the 2010 to 2011 timeframe. That picked up with a partnership between ST and Samsung Foundry. Then came GlobalFoundries. With the foundry piece in place, companies began to adopt the technology–NXP, Sony, Mobileye, Lattice. Today the IP is good enough to make any sort of application possible. We're looking at a different application space, of course. This is about power-efficient applications. It's IoT, 5G, automotive and edge computing.

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