LONDON Ė The first multiproject wafer runs for customers testing Globalfoundries' 14-nm FinFET manufacturing process technology could start as soon as the first quarter of 2013, according to Mike Noonen, executive vice president of worldwide marketing and sales at the foundry chip maker.
Globalfoundries Inc. (Milpitas, Calif.) is pushing hard to get customers into volume production with chips on its14XM process in 2014, just one year after introducing a 20-nm process. In part it is trying to do this by reusing the middle and back-end processes from the 20-nm process while replacing planar transistors with FinFETs thereby making for an easier transition. A move from 20LPM to 14XM is expected to produce improved power and performance albeit at approximately the same die area.
Noonen said that 14XM mutiproject wafer (MPW) runs could take place in the first or second quarters of 2013 and would be used by early adopters of the process to run test circuits. Globalfoundries started offering early physical design kits for 14XM in September.
When asked if the 14XM process was still liable to receive tweaks as a process, or even to major changes such as the use of silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers as a starting point to improve manufacturability Noonen said: "14XM is a bulk process."
However, Noonen added that Globalfoundries does have experience in other process technologies that make use of SOI wafers. "We have additional strong alliances on fully-depleted SOI. We are the manufacturing partner for STMicroelectronics for FDSOI at 28-nm and 20-nm. We have aligned ourselves with the thought leaders in all the manufacturing processes."
FDSOI uses planar transistors but it could be that logical road-map for both process technologies merges at some point in the future. There has been discussion as to whether the use of SOI can reduce the variability of FinFETs and improve performance at 14-nm. Some think it can while others have cited potential problems with floating-body effects and self-heating.
Noonen said Globalfoundries is already able to run the full 20-nm manufacturing process flow at its recently completed Fab 8 in Malta, New York. Noonen declined to say whether Fab 8 was already running commercial, high volume production of 20-nm circuits for customers.
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