GlobalFoundries Rolls Out 12nm FD-SOI Process

Foundry also touts an ecosystem for its 22nm process.


GlobalFoundries uncorked its 12FDX platform, incorporating a 12nm fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator process technology. The foundry’s Fab 1 in Dresden, Germany, will support customer development with the 12nm process, with product tape-outs scheduled for the first six months of 2019.

The 12FDX technology follows the company’s 22FDX platform involving a 22-nanometer process. The foundry asserted that 12FDX will provide the performance of a 10nm finFET chip design, while improving on the cost and power consumption of 16nm finFET technology.

“With 22FDX, we have gained a lot of industry momentum with customers,” said Gregg Bartlett, senior vice president of the CMOS Platform Business Unit at GlobalFoundries. “There’s a very large part of the market at 55, 40, just now ramping up at 28 nanometer. They’re looking at their migration path over the next few years, and saying, ‘Wow, we don’t really need all the horsepower of finFET, and the cost and the design complexity are pretty intimidating. Is there not a better solution?’ For the past year, we’ve been saying there is a better solution, and it’s 22FDX.”

Customers want to be reassured that 22FDX is not a “one-and-done solution,” Bartlett added, and the foundry wants to make it clear that there will be “full-node scaling” to 12nm in the future.

The chipmaker also announced the FDXcelerator Partner Program for 22FDX system-on-a-chip designs. Participants include Cadence Design Systems, Synopsys, Invecas, VeriSilicon, Dream Chip Technologies, CEA Leti, and Encore Semiconductor.

While GlobalFoundries is anticipating future demand for stacked die in IC packaging, and external memory will incorporate second-generation high-bandwidth memory (HBM2) technology, the chipmaker wants to keep costs as low as possible, according to Bartlett.

“Two important vectors,” he said. “We’re looking at a full-node shrink. The other way is the overall cost structure.”

GlobalFoundries has kept down the photomask count with 22FDX, and will be aiming for that with 12FDX. “It’s still a planar technology” with FD-SOI, he noted.

When it comes to the patterning in lithography, “it’s very analogous on 22nm,” Bartlett said. The 22nm FD-SOI process involves double patterning, with two metal layers, and that’s the plan for 12nm, as well. “No triple patterning.”

Regarding the FDXcelerator program, Bartlett said, “We’re establishing a roadmap, which is an industry first, from 22 to 12FDX. We’re establishing an ecosystem that is enabling 22 today and tomorrow 12FDX, so we really are trying to make this an alternative map for scaling for a lot of products that just don’t ever want to have to adopt a finFET.” Radio-frequency connected devices are also being taken into account, he said.

“When 22FDX first came out from GlobalFoundries, I saw some game-changing features. The real-time tradeoffs in power and performance could not be ignored by those needing to differentiate their designs,” G. Dan Hutcheson, chairman and CEO of VLSI Research, said in a statement. “Now with its new 12FDX offering, GlobalFoundries is showing a clear commitment to delivering a roadmap for this technology — especially for IoT and automotive, which are the most disruptive forces in the market today. GlobalFoundries’ FD-SOI technologies will be a critical enabler of this disruption.”

GlobalFoundries offered 12FDX testimonials from NXP Semiconductors, VeriSilicon, Leti, and Soitec, in addition to one from Xi Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology.