BRUSSELS, Belgium – A three-year project with a budget of 360 million euro (about $465 million) has been set up in Europe to support the industrialization of the fully depleted silicon-on-insulator (FDSOI) manufacturing process.
The project, called Places2Be, is led by FDSOI pioneer STMicroelectronics NV and will support pilot lines to run process at ST's wafer fab at Crolles, France and at Globalfoundries' Fab 1 in Dresden, Germany.
Places2Be stands for "Pilot Lines for Advanced CMOS Enhanced by SOI in 2x nodes, Built in Europe." Places2Be uses Ultra-Thin Body and Buried oxide (UTBB) FDSOI, which allows the dynamic tuning of transistor performance, from low power to high speed, during operation. It is supported by the ENIAC public-private joint undertaking on nanoelectronics and by the public authorities in the seven countries of origin of the 19 participating companies and academic institutions.
Because of the complex way in which the European Commission and national public authority funds are awarded it is not immediately possible to say how much of the $465 million will be provided by European tax payers. Historically companies participating in European Commission projects could get up to 50 percent of costs and universities up to 75 percent of their costs paid.
The aim of the Places2Be project, the largest yet undertaken by ENIAC, is to support pilot production of FDSOI chips at 28-nm and of a second source that will enable volume production of leading-edge process technology in Europe. The money will be used to help create a European design and manufacturing ecosystem around FDSOI and to support the development of 14-nm and 10-nm follow-on nodes, ST said.
FDSOI is a low-power, high performance alternative to both bulk CMOS and to FinFET technologies, which is widely seen as the technology set to replace bulk CMOS. ST claims that FDSOI is faster, cooler and simpler technology but, for now, major chip manufacturers Intel, TSMC and Samsung are not persuaded. ST is already operating its R&D line at Crolles and the first FDSOI system chips are expected to be used in consumer electronics, high-performance computing and networking.
The project includes participation of 19 partners from 7 countries, and the planned involvement of about 500 engineers over three years across Europe.
Places2Be participants are ACREO Swedish ICT AB, Adixen Vacuum Products, Axiom IC, Bruco Integrated Circuits, Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives, Dolphin Integration, Ericsson AB, eSilicon Romania Srl, Forschungzentrum Juelich Gmbh, GlobalFoundries Dresden, Grenoble INP, IMEC, Ion Beam Services, Mentor Graphics France Sarl, Soitec SA, ST-Ericsson NV, STMicroelectronics NV, Universite Catholique de Louvain, and the University of Twente.
Has there been any uptake of the technology besides ST(-Ericsson) yet? I think they probably will need the active participation of other high volume players for it to really take off, especially due to the problems they have with high end digital.
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