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UMC produces 45nm SRAM chip

Posted: 22 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:UMC? SRAM? 45nm? Mike Clendenin?

United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) has cleared a key 45nm process hurdle by producing an SRAM chip with a bit cell size of less than 0.25?m?. To do it, engineers applied all the latest process tools, including immersion lithography, ultra shallow junctions, mobility enhancement tricks, and low-k dielectrics.

The company plans to enter pilot production of 45nm next year. It said compared to its 65nm process, the new 45nm process offers a 50 percent 6-transistor SRAM cell size shrink, and a 30 percent performance gain.

As chip designers begin to turn their attention toward 45nm, they will need to tackle a 30 percent reduction in design rules. They must also struggle with a wide range of process variations and negotiate thorny manufacturing defects. Timing, power, signal integrity, leakage current, thermal gradients and reliability problems will continue to be challenges, too.

Like its rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the UMC used 193nm immersion lithography scanners to enhance resolutions and improve pattern imprints on the wafer. Over the summer, TSMC said it used immersion lithography to produce a 45nm test chip with 10 metal layers and gate lengths down to 26nm. It also applied strained silicon, triple-gate oxide options and a second-generation low-k dielectric film that will achieve a "k" factor of 2.5 to 2.6. According to UMC, its low-k film achieved a "k" factor of 2.5 in its SRAM chip.

So far, a handful of companies have revealed details about their 45nm processes, including Intel Corp., IBM, TSMC and Texas Instruments. Chartered Semiconductor, Samsung Electronics and Infineon Technologies are all pursuing 45nm through a technology alliance with IBM.

- Mike Clendenin
EE Times

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