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Specialty foundries extend their reach

Posted: 16 Mar 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:specialty foundry? CMOS? SRAM? LCD?

The specialty foundries Dongbu, MagnaChip, TowerJazz and X-Fab are expanding their wings with new capabilities or alliances.

The foundries have separately made announcements. South Korea's Dongbu HiTek has commenced production of CMOS image sensor devices at the 130nm node for ClairPixel Co. Ltd. South Korea's ClairPixel deploys a wide dynamic range (WDR) technology to enhance image quality across a wide range of applications, including automobile "black box" systems.

In another move, Taiwan's eMemory, a supplier of embedded non-volatile memory technologies, and Korea's MagnaChip Semiconductor Ltd, have jointly announced the porting of eMemory's Neobit OTP (one-time programmable) 0.11?m, high-voltage embedded NVM at MagnaChip. Production is slated for Q1 10.

This allows MagnaChip to provide more efficient applications at a much lower cost in products like LCD driver ICs and power management ICs, the companies said. eMemory and MagnaChip have also cooperated in 0.35-, 0.18-, 0.15-, and 0.13- logic, analog and HV processes.

As expected, TowerJazz has joined the IPL Alliance, an organization chartered with establishing an interoperable process design kit (PDK). The IPL Alliance, comprised of major EDA and foundry companies, has devised the first open standard for interoperable PDKs (iPDKs) for analog/mixed-signal designs.

The iPDK is based on the OpenAccess database and uses standard languages and unified architecture that ensure interoperability among all EDA vendor tools. Engineering teams only need to develop a single PDK for each process node which reduces development costs, shortens design cycles and provides designers with earlier access to advanced process technologies across multiple tools.

The pilot process for TowerJazz iPDKs will be its TS18 power management process; however, the roadmap will cover all of its processes and TowerJazz customers will have the flexibility to choose which types of EDA flow to use. TowerJazz plans to offer the first iPDK by June 2010.

Meanwhile, Germany's X-Fab Silicon Foundries AG has rolled out an embedded non-volatile random-access memory (NVRAM) process feature, leading to a single-chip solution.

Combining the benefits of SRAM with the non-volatile data retention of EEPROM or flash memories, the new NVRAM capability of the XH018 process and supporting NVRAM compiler enable customers to achieve the same or better functionality in less chip area, according to the company.

Typical applications include industrial control and automotive applications, data transfer systems, RAID data storage and security data handling.

Traditionally, non-volatile RAM capability was created by combining SRAM with a separate EEPROM, requiring additional functionality for data handling and transfer, and added design effort to integrate and test the functionality. In contrast, X-FAB's embedded NVRAM stores the SRAM content to the non-volatile memory in a single cycle.

Both the NVRAM process feature in XH018 technology and the supporting NVRAM compiler are available now.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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