Wednesday, April 16, 2008

IBM Demos New Material, Claims Breakthrough in Process Technologies

IBM and its joint development partners have announced that they had collectively demonstrated significant performance and power consumption advantages over industry standards by using a breakthrough material known as “high-k/metal gate” (HKMG) on silicon manufactured at IBM’s 300mm fab in East Fishkill, New York. The new material is set to be used for making 32nm chips.

“These early high-k/metal gate results demonstrate that by working together we can deliver leading-edge technologies that handily surpass others in the industry,” said Gary Patton, vice president for IBM’s semiconductor research and development center on behalf of the technology alliance.

The alliance said it had assessed performance improvements on 32nm technology circuits of up to 35% over 45nm technology circuits at the same operating voltage. The 32nm power reduction over 45nm can be as much as 30 to 50% depending on the operating voltage. In addition, testing on product library test chip and industry standard microprocessor critical paths has shown performance improvements of up to 40% over conventional (Poly/SiON) technology at the same technology dimensions.

The performance and power improvements have been observed in HKMG evaluation circuits and test chips on silicon manufactured at IBM’s semiconductor fabrication facility.

“Demonstrating this caliber of result in a practical environment means that as our collective client base moves to next-generation technology by using the ‘gate-first’ approach, they will continue to maintain a significant competitive advantage,” added Mr. Patton.

The list of IBM’s partners who co-developed HKMG material includes Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, Freescale, Infineon Technologies AG, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics and Toshiba Corp.

The Common Platform alliance partners – IBM, Chartered and Samsung – are the first in the original equipment manufacturing (OEM) foundry industry to unveil a HKMG technology in the 32nm technology generation. A low-power 32nm technology design enablement package with fully compatible ground rules for extendibility to the 28nm technology generation is now available. Silicon support for low-power 32nm HKMG technology will be available through a prototyping shuttle program starting in the third quarter of 2008, with plans for quarterly shuttles.

“The semiconductor marketplace remains one of the most competitive in the world. Early market introduction combined with strong product differentiation is critical to success,” said Dirk Wrister, director of process technology at Freescale.

Feasibility results from HKMG devices built at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s Albany NanoTech Complex indicate this process can be extended to 22nm, demonstrating that improvements resulting from the use of HKMG can continue to be delivered in successive technology generations.

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