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TI Gives Tour of Analog Fab Terrain

7/31/2013 10:40 AM EDT
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elctrnx_lyf
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Analog
elctrnx_lyf   7/31/2013 1:15:03 PM
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Analog world is much different compared to the digital. The products and fabs are more custom than the standard digital chips.

rick merritt
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Next up: Exar
rick merritt   7/31/2013 1:20:54 PM
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I talk with the CEO of Exar, a much smaller and fabless analog and mixed-signal company Thursday. Questions, anyone?

pconti
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Re: Next up: Exar
pconti   8/1/2013 12:32:46 PM
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questions:

What process node do they see as the sweet spot for Analog ?

Do/Can they continue to use smal Analog foundries, if not how soon till the majority of their chips are fabbed at the big foundries like TSMC/GF etc ?

 

thanks.

 

rick merritt
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Re: Next up: Exar
rick merritt   8/1/2013 9:46:58 PM
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@pconti: Thx for the qs and stay tuned for the story hopefully Friday

mcgrathdylan
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78 different process technologies?
mcgrathdylan   7/31/2013 2:02:36 PM
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TI currently supports about 78 different process technologies, more than 20 of them inherited with its 2011 acquisition of National Semiconductor. "It's a whole different world in logistical complexity," he said.


Wow. I for one find it kind of unbelievable that TI can support so many different process technologies. And I think Menon's quote, about being a whole different world in logistical complexity, has got to be an understatement. You would thing they would want to cut that number down just for complexity's sake.

Patk0317
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Re: 78 different process technologies?
Patk0317   7/31/2013 4:28:36 PM
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"Wow. I for one find it kind of unbelievable that TI can support so many different process technologies."

 

I would say that that depends upon how different each process technology is. Is each of the 78 a totally seperate process, or an interation of an exisiting process? You figure they have 6 or 7 geometry nodes and then 10 different tweaks to a process on each node and probably some overlap between what TI and National processes that are more or less the same?

mcgrathdylan
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Re: 78 different process technologies?
mcgrathdylan   7/31/2013 6:04:41 PM
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That's a good point. Obviously each of the 78 are not completely different processes. There would be considerable overlap, I imagine. And of course, as you say, TI is working across a lot of different process geometries requiring different processes. Even so, 78 sounds like a lot.

Patk0317
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Re: 78 different process technologies?
Patk0317   7/31/2013 6:15:19 PM
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It does sound like a lot, too many to manage effectively really. But suppose I tell you I have 78 cents, but what I really have is two quarters, two dimes, a nickel, and three pennies. Technically I have 78 cents, but I only have 8 coins to carry around - much more managable than 78 which would likely put a hole in my pocket ;<)

rick merritt
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Re: 78 different process technologies?
rick merritt   7/31/2013 9:42:02 PM
I forgot to add to the story this comment from Menon:

"We have four major process platforms--high speed, high precision, high power and high density."

The 78 flavors--like Baskin Robbins--I assume are specific optimizations from these four.

mhrackin
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Re: 78 different process technologies?
mhrackin   8/1/2013 2:32:05 PM
To put some perspective on the "78": TI (and the other giants in analog) has (directly or indirectly) absorbed many other analog IC companies, and continues to manufacture/support a lot of those products I am sure. Think about Unitrode, Burr-Brown, Philbrick, etc., each with their own markets and processes optimized for them.   It's undoubtedly just simpler and more economic for TI to keep those fabs up instead of trying to force the designs into a different process!  That's just another way of explaining the "tweaks."

rick merritt
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Re: 78 different process technologies?
rick merritt   8/1/2013 9:48:35 PM
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@mhrakin: Good historical perspective! I recall how big the Burr-Brown acqusition was in its day. Shook members of our news room as much as the National buy did more recently.

truekop
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analog
truekop   7/31/2013 2:41:10 PM
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@Rick, Can such information be gathered about other Analog giants like ADI and Linear tech ? I suspect those companies will have as many or more proccess technologies. It will also be interesting to find out how many of these companies still engage in development of SiGe Bipolar/Bipolar process technologies crucial for RF and Microwave circuits.

rick merritt
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Re: analog
rick merritt   7/31/2013 9:45:50 PM
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@truecop: The Maxim interview inspired me to talk to these TI guys, but I am not sure how useful this particular story is in getting out fresh info.

I am up for talking to Linear and etc about the topic more, but I guess I need some direction for what are valuable areas to explore.

So send me your questions, please. at rick.merritt@ubm.com

 

Patk0317
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Analog and Moore's Law
Patk0317   7/31/2013 4:24:17 PM
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I agree with the statement - there is no Moore's law for analog. Smaller geometries do not necessarily benefit analog or mixed-signal devices. The issues created by shrinking an analog device often outweigh the benefits.

docdivakar
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Re: TI Gives Tour of Analog Fab Terrain
docdivakar   8/1/2013 1:17:24 PM
@Rick: it is interesting that the statement "Some processes aim to support 600-700 volts, some aim to support a wide array of voltage breakdowns..." steers clear of mentioning anything about non-Silicon semiconductor processes in TI's technology. It would have been nice to know if TI is working on SiC, GaN tecnologies, both in native substrates and in combination with Si substrates.

MP Divakar

MClayton0
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Analog vs Digital vs SOC optimum design rules
MClayton0   8/4/2013 10:41:19 PM
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Based on  experience at Motorola over many years, I would agree that 78 flows can be managed, but across several fabs, and analog priorities are precision, power, and voltage rather than density since Moores Law only applies to low power and voltage, and often must make some compromises for precision.   CMOS was not around during early days of analog-mostly IC development but gave the standard memory and processor guys a way to "stay on Moores Law" plan. 

However, the real world is analog and so SOC chips have to mix digital and analog, and the sad news is that SOC's will not follow Moores law for that reason (cost wise) but they can appear to be on track for their "smallest critical features."  Marketing, not engineering.  We even tried to put high voltage verticle devices and microcontrollers on same chip, and found that best economic solution was a 2 chip module.   But there is room for MODERATE analog power and voltage mixed with digital memory and logic, DMOS-CMOS.  

So let's hear from the SOC gurus on cost-benefit learning curves.  Just give it another name.  And if time permits, see if you can find any mixed-signal stacks of chips in volume production yet.

 

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