SAN JOSE, Calif. FPGA vendors Xilinx Inc. and its foundry United Microelectronics Corp. said Monday (June 14) they have deployed three different insulating gate oxide thicknesses within their 90-nm manufacturing process used to make the Virtex-4 FPGA family.
However, the companies did not address the nature of the dielectric material used in the next advanced FPGA series from Xilinx.
Xilinx has already received wafers from UMC that use the triple-oxide 90-nm technology, the companies said. Xilinx said earlier it planned to roll out three Virtex 4 devices by the end of the summer.
The companies expect the Virtex 4 FPGA family to have half the static and dynamic power consumption of previous generation devices, partly as a result of the use of three different oxide thicknesses. The Virtex 4 also benefits significantly from scaling from a 130-nm to a 90-nm manufacturing process, independent of gate-oxide developments.
"Working with UMC, we have leveraged the benefits of triple-oxide technology on 90-nm to break the industry trend of increased power consumption when moving from 130-nm to 90-nm," said Erich Goetting, vice president and general manager of the Advanced Products Division at Xilinx.
The companies did not say whether they are using a low-k dielectric for the intermetallic dielectric. UMC has been in volume production of the Xilinx Spartan 3 family of FPGAs using a 90-nm manufacturing process for some time. A Canadian engineering services company disclosed that the dielectric material in these FPGAs was FSG (fluoro-silicate glass) rather than a more advanced material with a lower dielectric constant. Xilinx subsequently said it had chosen UMC's 90-nm process without the low-k material.
Xilinx said at the time that cost rather than performance was the primary driver for the Spartan 3 family, and that was avoiding techniques that would drive up cost. If Virtex 4 parts, some of which are aimed at high-performance signal processing applications, do not use the low-k material it suggests UMC is having problems integrating the technique within its 90-nm process.
Xilinx said last week it was dropping IBM Microelectronics as a foundry for producing 90-nm FPGAs and would rely only on UMC.