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ISSCC to see advancements in vision processors, 3D chips

Posted: 17 Nov 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Samsung? Intel? vision processors? 3D chip? SRAM?

Samsung will unveil its 10nm process technology at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in February. ISSCC also will show significant improvements in fingerprint recognition, vision processors and 3D chip stacks as well as denser memories and a Mediatek mobile SoC packing ten cores in three clusters.

The event draws about 3,000 chip designers from around the world ranging from students to veteran engineering managers. They come to network with their tribe and compete to deliver papers that put a spotlight on budding talent and industry milestones.

Samsung will deliver several papers including ones detailing advances in DRAM and flash memory chips. But it's most significant paper will describe a 128Mb embedded SRAM made in a 10nm FinFET technology.

ISSCC organisers said the device has "the smallest [SRAM] bitcells to date," measuring 0.040?m for a high density (HD) and 0.049?m for a high current (HC) version. The designs sport "integrated assist circuitry that improves Vmin for the HD and HC bitcells by 130mV and 80mV, respectively," according to the ISSCC programme.

"Compared to Samsung's 14nm SRAM at 0.064?m2, the 10nm cell is a 0.63X shrink, certainly less than ideal," said David Kanter a microprocessor analyst for The Linley Group and Real World Technologies.

ISSCC

"Compared to Intel's 14nm SRAM cell at 0.049?m2, Samsung's cell is about a 0.82X shrink, a consequence of the fact that Samsung didn't shrink their metal rules between 20nm and 14nm," said Kanter. "I'd expect Intel's 10nm SRAMs to be much smaller, but they aren't sharing that information yet," he added.

TSMC, one of Samsung's closest rivals in chip making, announced its 10nm process announced earlier this year. The Taiwan foundry is said to be gearing up the process to make the SoC inside Apple's next-generation iPhone. Samsung and TSMC split Apple's current iPhone SoC business, according to reports.

The world's largest chip maker, Intel Corp., has delayed plans for making 10nm chips, citing the increasing costs and complexity given delays in next-generation lithography needed to draw the finest lines. Samsung and TSMC don't have that option if that want to win Apple's business, which is probably the highest-volume chip deal in the industry, albeit likely at strained profit margins given10nm chips which will require triple patterning for some key layers.

The Samsung SRAM is the only 10nm part described at ISSCC. The event includes many papers detailing chips made in TSMC's 16nm FinFET process. A scan of the programme found none made in Samsung's rival 14nm process.

Intel may shed a little light on the increasing difficulty and costs making next generation chips in a keynote at the event. William M. Holt, GM of Intel's manufacturing group, will give a talk entitled, "Moore's Law: A Path Forward."

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