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Chartered preps 0.185m SiGe process

Posted: 05 Sep 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:chartered semiconductor? sige? communication? bicmos? microelectronic?

Chartered Semiconductor Mfg said Tuesday (Sept. 3) that it will expand its foundry service offerings to the communications sector by rolling out a 0.185m SiGe BiCMOS manufacturing capability in 2H of 2003. The move emphasizes the importance that communications still plays for Chartered, the world's third-largest silicon foundry, despite being pinched by the sector's pullback over the past few years.

Chartered will license the process from IMEC, an independent European microelectronics research center which has focused substantial development resources on manufacturing processes for low-power, low-noise RF applications in the 2GHz to 5GHz frequency range.

Singapore-based Chartered is the second foundry to offer a SiGe process - after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which now has a 0.355m process that will transition to 0.185m early next year. Both companies are chasing a market for SiGe ICs that could bloom to $2.7 billion by 2006, according to a new study from Semico Research. SiGe chips will find their way into a range of devices, from cellphones and WLANs to HDDs, GPSs, and digital STBs.

"Chartered's approach uses an existing CMOS baseline process as the starting point and will integrate the SiGe bipolar module to deliver value-added high performance, and in the process reuse their fully-qualified RF passive components," said Joanne Itow, a senior analyst at Semico. "We believe this is significant, because it gives foundry customers more options in balancing overall system costs and performance requirements. Also the timing is right, because Chartered's SiGe module is targeted to be in place as demand hits."

Chartered attained the technology by tapping into IMEC's Industrial Affiliation Program on 0.185m BiCMOS process integration, which has mostly worked with integrated device manufacturers. As part of a nonexclusive agreement, IMEC will transfer the baseline technology along with test chip structures and the bipolar model. "We conducted an extensive evaluation of SiGe technologies, and concluded that IMEC's best meets our requirements. It is also a strong complement to our existing RF CMOS capabilities for SoC applications," said Shi-Chung Sun, SVP of technology development at Chartered.

The bipolar process will allow designers to integrate RF front-end and baseband chips for wireless communications or to provide high-speed data rates for wireline applications. The peak frequency of the 0.185m SiGe-based BiCMOS process can exceed 100GHz, and swing through a transitional frequency of 14GHz, which Chartered emphasized as an important benefit to its target customers. A suite of passive components including spiral inductor, varactor, metal-insulator-metal capacitor, and polysilicon resistors is also integrated into the process, the company said.

A preliminary process design kit should be available in Q3 of 2003.

- Mike Clendenin

EE Times

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