GENEVA--STMicroelectronics today announced improvements in silicon-germanium BiCMOS manufacturing processes, which the company says is optimized for lower cost, high-performance radio frequency ICs.
The European chip maker said it has reduced the cost penalties typically associated with SiGe processes, compared to standard silicon BiCMOS. The new SiGe process will produce RF integrated circuits at a cost "only slightly higher" than that of standard silicon BiCMOS chips, but with the additional performance of silicon-germanium technology, according to STMicroelectronics.
The company said it will use the new process to make RF chips for a range of handheld terminals, home wireless networks, and Bluetooth radio-connected peripherals. The process is now ramping up for volume production in 2001 and is available from multiple ST fabs.
The new SiGe process currently employs 0.35-micron feature sizes and has a cut-off frequency (fT) of 45 GHz, said ST. An enhanced 0.25-micron version in the technology will result in significant performance enhancements, such as an fT of 70 GHz, added the company. ST said it is already prototyping parts for the 0.25-micron SiGe process and plans to have production ready in 2002.