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CMOS platform cuts power use by 50%

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CMOS platform? transistor? power consumption?

SuVolta Inc. has developed a new energy-saving CMOS platform that is said to reduce supply voltage use by at least 30 percent and active power consumption by at least a half.

These savings, according to SuVolta, are delivered while keeping industry-standard performance and cutting leakage power consumption by at least 80%. These features make the PowerShrink platform a boon to price-conscious manufacturers of both electronic end-products and IC products such as processors, SRAMs and SOCs, SuVolta claimed.

"Power consumption has become the limiting factor in the amount of functionality that can be packed into mobile computing devices like smartphones, tablets and notebooks," said SuVolta president and CEO Dr. Bruce McWilliams.

"Lowering semiconductor power consumption has far reaching benefits for the range of applications and products that can be developed. SuVolta is very pleased to be providing the industry with a technology platform that is advancing the possibilities from continued scaling of planar, bulk CMOS technology," McWilliams noted.

SuVolta CTO Dr. Scott Thompson added that the platform is its solution to the semiconductor industry's need to lower power consumption.

"Up to this point in time, semiconductor process technology innovation has primarily focused on increasing performance. But the biggest problem in semiconductors today is not performance but power. SuVolta is solving the power impasse by significantly reducing transistor threshold voltage variation and therefore enabling supply voltage scaling," Thompson said.

The newly-released platform is built with SuVolta's Deeply Depleted Channel (DDC) CMOS transistor technology and DDC-optimized circuits and design techniques. Dr. T.J. Rodgers, founder of Cypress Semiconductor, said in a statement provided to SuVolta that he was impressed by the platform.

"By tightening threshold voltage variability while maintaining performance at lower supply voltage, SuVolta's platform extends the useful life of bulk planar CMOS processes and the products they enable and negates the need for costly, complex technologies like EUV lithography, FD-SOI or FinFETs. Furthermore, the technology enables companies to preserve and extend the legacy IP blocks they have spent years developing," Rodgers said.

With the platform, SuVolta was able to demonstrate that large SRAM blocks could operate below 0.5V, confirming that the DDC transistor enables circuit functionality at far greater than 30 percent VDD scaling. This sub-0.5V operating voltage is among the lowest reported for 65nm CMOS technology, and is significantly lower than typical SRAM minimum operating voltages (VDD-min) of 0.8V and higher in conventional CMOS technologies.

SuVolta said controlling power consumption is a key enabler for adding features to

IC products and for scaling semiconductor process technologies. Its DDC transistor uses a unique channel structure with significant benefits for low power operation compared to conventional transistor technology.

By reducing threshold voltage (VT) variation by 50 percent, the DDC transistor enables scaling of supply voltage (VDD) by at least 30 percent while maintaining the same system clock speed and reducing overall leakage. By increasing channel mobility, the DDC transistor increases drive current (Ieff) by at least 10. It also enables even more effective threshold voltage management through body biasing by dramatically increasing body coefficient.

SuVolta said the platform is compatible with current manufacturing and design infrastructure and uses conventional design tools and flows. It added that its DDC transistor leverages existing CMOS design rules and process flows and can be manufactured in existing fabs because it does not require new equipment or new materials.

The release of the platform coincides with the announcement that Fujitso has begun to license Suvolta's innovative PowerShrink low-power technology.

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