BERNIN, France--A new partnership between Silicon-On-Insulator Technologies SA (Soitec) and Gemplus S.C.A. is taking aim at producing integrated circuits for advanced smart-card applications on SOI wafers. The alliance intends to enable France's Gemplus to accelerate development of ICs for new generations of smart cards, said the two companies this week.
Under the program, Soitec's Smart Cut technology for SOI wafer construction will be used for high-speed, low-power consuming ICs. Soitec produces SOI wafers with a series of process steps that first oxides the surface of one wafer before its bonded to another silicon wafer. A high-current ion implantation step is used to create a "Smart Cut" region in the oxided wafer. The region is cut, annealed and polished to form a wafer with a buried layer of oxide insulator in silicon.
Silicon-on-insulator is a key technology to enable high performance and low power requirements in future smart card applications, said Jean-Luc Ledys, industrial coordination director at Gemplus. "For a given speed, a circuit manufactured on SOI substrates will consume 30% less power than a standard circuit," he said. "Conversely, at the same energy consumption, the speed of the circuit built on SOI substrates will double compared to a similar device made using bulk CMOS technology.
"Finally, SOI technology allows the manufacturing of circuits with supply voltages as low as 0.8 volt, while delivering the same performance of one running at 1.5 volt," Ledys added.
The joint-development work is expected to help Gemplus be ready to use SOI designs for next-generation smart-card applications, such as contactless cards, electronic labels, high-end microcontroller cards, and microsystem cards, according to Ledys.