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© rob hill dreamstime.com Components | September 24, 2012

Globalfoundries unveils FinFET transistor architecture

Globalfoundries launched a 14nm-XM offering will "give customers the performance and power benefits of three-dimensional FinFET transistors with less risk and a faster time-to-market".
The XM stands for “eXtreme Mobility,” and is a non-planar architecture that is truly optimized for mobile system-on-chip (SoC) designs, providing a whole product solution from the transistor all the way up to the system level. The technology is expected to deliver a 40-60% improvement in battery life when compared to today’s two-dimensional planar transistors at the 20nm node.

The 14nm-XM offering is based on a modular technology architecture that uses a 14nm FinFET device combined with elements of Globalfoundries’ 20nm-LPM process, which is well on its way to production. Leveraging the maturity of the 20nm-LPM technology will enable a smooth transition for customers looking to tap the benefits of FinFET SoCs as soon as possible. Technology development is already underway, with test silicon running through Globalfoundries’ Fab 8 in Saratoga County, N.Y. Early process design kits (PDKs) are available now, with customer tape-outs expected in 2013.

“We have more than a decade of FinFET R&D to build on as we prepare to bring this technology to production,” said Gregg Bartlett, Chief Technology Officer at Globalfoundries. “We are confident this foundation will enable us to lead the foundry volume ramp of FinFETs, just as we did with High-K Metal Gate (HKMG).”

Building on a Foundation of HKMG Expertise

The FinFET architecture takes the traditional two-dimensional transistor design and turns the conductive channel on its side, resulting in a three-dimensional “fin” structure surrounded by a gate that controls the flow of current. A key benefit of FinFET technology is its superior low-power attributes. The 3D transistor design intrinsically operates at a lower voltage with minimal current leakage, which translates into longer battery life for mobile applications or less power consumption for plugged-in applications such as networking chips in datacenters.

“Many people don’t realize that FinFETs build upon the same fundamental mobile driving force as today’s HKMG technology,” said G. Dan Hutcheson, CEO and Chairman of VLSI Research. “While HKMG was a significant innovation in leakage reduction, FinFETs are a great leap forward in this value proposition that clear the way for many years of advancements. But to fully extract the value of FinFET technology, a company needs to be in volume production of HKMG. Globalfoundries has a head start in this area with almost two years of high-volume manufacturing experience with HKMG.”

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