Future of flash technologies
For future technologies, beyond 40 nm, embedded flash integration will become more challenging. This is because the base logic platform is becoming more and more complex, and more sensitive to interactions between various types of IP, including non-volatile memory.
For decades the industry has been using silicon dioxide as a gate oxide material. As the industry has progressed along the Moore’s law curve and transistors have decreased in size, the thickness of the silicon dioxide gate dielectric has also decreased, increasing the gate capacitance, output current, and ultimately raising device performance. Beyond 40 nm, gate oxide leakage current has increased drastically, leading to higher power consumption as well as lower device reliability.
In order to combat this effect, the silicon dioxide gate dielectric is often replaced with a high-K material, allowing increased gate capacitance (hence higher performance) without the associated leakage. Future memory solutions will thus be dealing with a new material system (high-K metal gate). In addition, the base platform is moving to different structures, such as FINFET-type structures which enable scaling of the area consumed by CMOS logic.
Integration of flash into these technologies will be aided by flash cell types which are more planar, more compatible with different materials systems, and electrically easier to scale. The SG-TFS technology developed at Freescale has several advantages in these areas.
Why is the commercialization of SG-TFS so significant? As with every area of the semiconductor industry, the arena for embedded flash products, such as microcontrollers, is very dynamic. Simple structures which can be integrated easily and scaled readily will have many advantages. Moving this technology from the drawing board, through the R&D phase and into volume production has laid the foundation for a very promising technology roadmap as we go forward.
SG-TFS is an ideal choice for future of NVM technology, offering superior reliability, with much lower cost of integration, much lower power consumption, and scalability to meet the technology and manufacturing challenges beyond 40 nm. Other commercially viable traditional flash technologies out there are in their third or fourth generation of development, with all innovations already “squeezed out” of the technology. SG-TFS, meanwhile, is already very competitive with other flash technologies in only its first generation of commercialization, and has huge untapped upside ahead of it. One may say that the future of flash technology is already here, and will outperform other types of technologies for years to come, as others are running out of steam.
About the authors
Kaivan Karimi is the Head of Portfolio Management & Business Development at Freescale’s Auto, Industrial, and Multi-Market Solutions Group (AISG), and holds MSEE and EMBA degrees.
Kelly Baker is a Freescale Fellow and serves as Chief NVM Technologist in Freescale’s Auto, Industrial, and Multi-Market Solutions Group (AISG).
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