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Iconic FDSOI

FDSOI technology seemed to reflect an initiating turn of events almost 40 years ago at Leti. A few years later, this view was supplemented by the conviction of a handful of engineers. Then came the gamble taken by a few manufacturers… a revolutionary patent….. and eventually, establishment of full technological and, more recently, industrial ecosystems such as FDXcelerator™, leveraging GlobalFoundries' 22FDX™ technology, enabling a lower cost migration path for customers with advanced node design needs requiring performance on demand. 

Published on 9 June 2017

Today, FDSOI technology is integrated into millions of consoles and smartphones and it's now becoming a standard across the worlds of nomadic electronics, automotive engineering and the Internet of Things. 

Ever smaller nodes for ever larger market

The markets targeted by FDSOI technology are clearly those embracing mobile electronics: smartphones, tablets… objects for which the energy consumption issue is now crucial. 

For these applications, FinFET processors, while performing better strictly from the processing speed standpoint, face serious challenges on the issue of energy, considers Olivier Faynot, Deputy Director, Microelectronics division at Leti. 
Taking this a step further, FDSOI will probably become unavoidable on the connected car market, in which processors will be required to combine data processing power with low energy consumption. Another targeted sector is the Internet of Things, an emerging universe in which objects will become intelligent and will be "conscious" of their environment in relation to exchanging information and making decisions. The healthcare market also represents a vast outlet for FDSOI technology. The microelectronics giants were absolutely right: in its 28 nanometer version, FDSOI is now firmly established in the STMicroelectronics and Samsung catalogues. Yet, this is only a start! 

In cooperation with STMicroelectronics, the idea is to develop new functionalities for the "28 nm node": radio frequency, embedded memory for chips, microcontrollers, etc. 

The 28 nm node will have a long service life since it is very cost competitive and will meet the requirements of all the applications of the manufacturer's customers, predicts François Andrieu, senior microelectronics engineer at Leti. 
In parallel, this also involves demonstrating that FDSOI is compatible with transistor miniaturization. Leti, STMicroelectronics and IBM therefore started to focus on the 22 nm node from the end of the 2000s onwards. The outcome was that the technology was transferred to GlobalFoundries, the second foundry worldwide, in 2016. The Grenoble laboratory detached a dozen personnel to the foundry's Dresden site to set up the corresponding platform. Moreover, last September, GlobalFoundries announced an extension of its FDSOI platform to the 12 nm node. Its level of integration is unmatched. The objective is to produce the first circuits in Dresden in 2019. 

Enough to make FDSOI the new king of microelectronics technology? 

There's no question of overturning FinFET", warns François Andrieu. We're an alternative because Intel's technology remains unbeatable for high-performance computing applications, while FDSOI is the solution for optimizing the processing speed/energy consumption pair on demand. He adds, FDSOI is in the challenger's position with respect to FinFET. But, from the market development standpoint, it is completely possible that this technology will end up taking significant market shares.
As proof, GlobalFoundries has not opted for one technology to the detriment of the other, but now offers both to its customers. In other words, FDSOI now appears to be essential and this no longer has anything to do with a turn of events!

A special FDSOI focus will be presented during a Panel Discussion on June 28 from 5:00 to 5:45 pm entitled “FDSOI Take-off” featuring Alain Mutricy, Senior VP, product managagement, GlobalFounderies; Rajeh Pankaj, Senior VP R&D, Qualcomm; and Antun Domic, CTO, Synopsys. Registration and full program available here

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