SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- Actel Corp. here said it has successfully developed a 0.22-micron antifuse field programmable gate array (FPGA) technology that is currently being qualified for production at United Microelectronics Corp. in Hsinchu, Taiwan.
The new technology was developed in record time for Actel and has already yielded working silicon, the Sunnyvale company said. Antifuse FPGA devices from this new process technology are expected to sample this month, with volume production expected by the second quarter.
The new technology produces a10% improvement in performance over Actel's current 0.25-micron antifuse devices, with a 20% reduction in die size.
Esmat Hamdy, senior vice president of technology and operations at Actel, said the company developed the 0.22-micron process in record time. The 0.25-micron technology was developed just a year ago with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.
"The process technology development and early device prototyping has been exceptionally smooth," he said. "The rapid convergence of process technologies has again allowed us to bring this new process technology on line very quickly."
The new technology was developed on UMC's advanced 0.22-micron CMOS process. The technology features a unique metal-to-metal antifuse. The advanced antifuse process allows a true "sea-of-modules" approach to be used, offering higher speeds and smaller die size.
In recent years, most standard logic processes have adopted the use of multi-voltage transistors and chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) that were previously unique to antifuse FPGAs. Using CMP for mainstream silicon processes and the narrowing difference in mask sets between standard and antifuse processes has greatly reduced the complexity and time required to bring up new antifuse processes, according to Hamdy.
Early indications are that Actel is on an accelerated development cycle for next-generation antifuse products, Hamdy said. "It looks like we'll be moving down the process technology curve to 0.15-micron geometry at a similar accelerated pace."
"We are to the point where our antifuse FPGA processes are now at parity with mainstream FPGA processes," said Carl Burrow, vice president of marketing at Actel. "And because the cost, performance and power-dissipation advantages inherent in the antifuse architecture are clearly evident, Actel's new families are winning designs solely on their merits against competitive alternatives."
"We fully intend to pass on the performance gains and cost reductions associated with this process to our customers," said Yousef Khalilollahi, director of product marketing at Actel. "While our recently introduced 0.25-micron antifuse family easily runs a PCI core at 66 MHz, the increased speed of the new process technology targets applications requiring even greater performance, lower power dissipation and aggressive price points."