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Chartered moves to 40nm process and below

Posted: 26 Sep 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:foundry service? 40nm process? Charted Semi roadmap?

Aiming to take the lead in the foundry market, Singapore's Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Pte Ltd unveiled its new roadmap, which includes plans to develop and offer a 28nm process possibly by next year.

The disclosure reveals what IBM Corp.'s "fab club" has up its sleeves in terms of future process technology. Chartered is one of several members within IBM's common platform alliance.

Chartered has publicly announced a 45nm process, which is currently being offered in the market right. Now, in a bold move to leapfrog its rivals from Taiwan, the Singaporean foundry provider is also quietly developing a yet-to-be-announced, 40nm "half node" process, dubbed 40G.

During a public presentation on the intellectual property (IP) market Sept. 24, Walter Ng, VP of design enablement alliances with Chartered, presented the company's process roadmap.

In a slide, the company is targeted to ship 40G in 2008, with separate 32- and 28nm processes due out in 2009. Chartered has not announced its 32- and 22nm processes.

After the event, Ng acknowledged that the 32nm process is due out in 2009, but declined to elaborate on the 28nm technology. That appears to be a "half-node" process between 32- and 22nm.

"32nm is next year," Ng said at the GSA IP Conference. "Our customers support a 'half-node' strategy."

Fab club
In March, IBM and its partners, including Chartered, claimed they would deliver high-k dielectrics and metal gates for the 32nm node. The partners claimed the circuits had, on average, 35 percent better performance than 45nm technology circuits at the same operating voltage. The 32nm technology also consumed between 30-to-50 percent less power than 45nm, with respect to operating voltage.

The companies said the technology will be available to IBM and its alliance partners in the second half of 2009. The 32nm process will also use immersion lithography, ultra low-k, copper and other features.

Several years ago, IBM formed an alliance to develop a common process, as a means to spread the risk and R&D dollars. Today, IBM's so-called "fab club" includes seven companies: Advanced Micro Devices, Chartered, Freescale Semiconductor, Infineon Technologies, NEC, Samsung Electronics, Sony, STMicroelectronics and Toshiba.

Many of IBM's partners have already co-developed several generations of process technology. Process R&D is conducted with partners at IBM's R&D centers in Yorktown, N.Y. and Almaden, Calif., as well as at Albany NanoTech in Albany, N.Y. On the foundry side of the equation, the processes are developed and transferred to three companies: IBM (Building 323), Chartered (Fab 7) and Samsung (Fab S1).

Despite the push on scaling, the foundry business is in the tank. Silicon foundries are experiencing a significant decline in wafer starts that is likely to result in sub-75 percent capacity utilization rates in the fourth quarter, according to Steven Pelayo, an analyst with HSBC Global Technology Research in Hong Kong.

Amid a slowdown in the IC industry, Chartered recently said that it expects to be at the lower end of its previous sales guidance. As previously reported, the Singaporean foundry provider plans to report a loss in Q3. Taiwan's foundry and chip assembly houses are also showing weakness in Q3.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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