SAN FRANCISCO – Intel and IBM went head-to-head with their latest 22-nm technologies in back-to-back papers at the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) here Monday (Dec. 10). Separately, a top Intel fab executive commented on increasing wafer costs and the company’s foundry business.
IBM said it is prototyping server processors in a new 3-D ready, 22-nm process technology it hopes will deliver 25 to 35 percent boosts over its 32-nm node. Intel retains an edge with several 22-nm chips already in volume production, and disclosure at IEDM of a variant of the process for SoCs for a wide range of applications.
The Intel paper showed support for “high drive current across the spectrum of leakage and a full suite of SoC tools,” Mark Bohr, head of Intel’s process technology development group, said in a brief interview. The process is geared for a much wider array of designs than that of IBM, he added.
Bohr said Intel’s 22-nm FinFET process is cost effective, contradicting report it is 30 to 40 percent more expensive than TSMC’s 28-nm planar process. The addition of FinFET adds only 3 percent to the cost of the process. Its use of 80-nm minimum feature sizes can be made with a single pass of 193-nm lithography tools, making it cost effective.
Projections from an IMEC keynote that 14-nm wafers will be 90 percent more expensive than 28-nm parts due to the lack of EUV lithography are inaccurate, Bohr asserted. The cost increase for 14-nm wafers at Intel “is nowhere near that,” he said.
“Cost per wafer has always gone up marginally each generation, somewhat more so in recent generations, but that’s more than offset by increases in transistor density so that the cost per transistor continues to go down at 14 nm,” Bohr said.
Separately, Bohr said Intel does have a growing foundry business that may include some higher volume applications than its current announced customers like FPGA startup Achronix. However, “we don’t intend to be in the general-purpose foundry business…[and] I don’t think the [foundry] volumes ever will be huge” for Intel, he said.