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Soitec claims breakthrough for FinFET production

Soitec claims breakthrough for FinFET production

Soitec's new FD-3D wafer type can dramatically decrease time-to-market for companies thinking about making the move from planar to FinFET transistors.

Wafer maker Soitech has announced a new fully depleted silicon wafer which, the company claims, makes it considerably easier and cheaper to build semiconductors using 3D transistors.

While Intel is on track to be the first to market with its Tri-Gate Transistor technology, fin-based Field Effect Transistors (FinFETs) have long been considered as the next big thing in semiconductor design. Unlike traditional planar transistors, FinFETs - a term coined by researchers from the University of California at Berkeley - are build on a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) substrate to create multigate transistors which extend into the third dimension.

A FinFET-based device promises a decrease in current leakage and a reduction in the short-channel effect as process sizes shrink to sub-20nm levels. The technology isn't without its issues, however: 3D transistors are significantly more complex to manufacture than planar transistors, with Intel thus far on track to be the first to push a related technology to market in a mass-produced semiconductor.

Soitec hopes to address the manufacturing issues that are preventing widespread use of FinFET designs with its new FD-3D wafer type. Constructed from a thin layer of silicon over a buried oxide layer, the silicon's thickness is customised according to the required fin height while the BOX layer provides isolation.

The result, Soitec claims, is a reduction in the number of steps required to manufacture 3D transistor-based semiconductors - translating directly into reduced costs, faster time to market and improved yields. According to the company's figures, companies using an FD-3D wafer over a traditional wafer type could see their products hit the market up to a year earlier.

'Our fully depleted product roadmap addresses the critical needs of the semiconductor industry and solves key challenges facing manufacturers today. Whichever path chip vendors choose to follow – planar or FinFET – Soitec provides solutions that address cost, performance, power-efficiency and time-to-market issues,' claimed Paul Boudre, chief operating officer of Soitec, at the announcement. 'FD-2D enables immediate and significant performance leaps, while FD-3D makes FinFET a reality for the entire industry at accelerated schedules and reduced risk.'

As well as its FD-3D and related planar FD-2D wafers, Soitec has announced plans to introduce strained silicon versions of its wafers. By modifying the crystalline structure of the silicon layer, Soitec claims, electron mobility can be improved - meaning a higher operating frequency for the finished device. The company is also investigating the use of germanium and nano-wire materials for expansion beyond the 14nm process size.

While Soitec's claims are impressive, the company has yet to confirm whether any tier one semiconductor companies have signed up to use the FD-3D wafers.

9 Comments

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TheDodoKiller 18th April 2012, 12:52 Quote
Well, that's good news :D
[USRF]Obiwan 18th April 2012, 13:54 Quote
It's just mind-boggling how the in semiconductor technology is progressing. Comparing this progress with a gas powered engine and we should have being flying in cars for the last 30 years.
schmidtbag 18th April 2012, 16:11 Quote
@USRF Obiwan
Agreed, but you can single-handedly blame oil companies for that - they're almost ruining our economy by themselves, along with companies like Wal Mart.


But anyways back to the topic, I'd say great job to Soitec, although if other companies aren't already aware of how to manufacture fin-FETs the way Soitec does then I'm not sure if giving out their secret was the best idea.
Bede 18th April 2012, 18:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
@USRF Obiwan
Agreed, but you can single-handedly blame oil companies for that - they're almost ruining our economy by themselves, along with companies like Wal Mart.

Wut? As far as I'm aware, oil companies provide direct employment for millions of people, are the backbone of our economies and have single-handedly enabled the massive growth of the world's economy over the last hundred years. Without cheap energy the tech market could never have exploded like it has. Moore's law relies entirely on the availability of cheap energy. Without the long-chain hydrocarbons extracted from oil-wells the plastics industry would not exist at all. Without plastics, I'd imagine half the things you see in a room would not exist.

Oil companies may well ruin the environment, but please don't blame them for the economy - that is the product of government mismanagement and the financial markets' unhealthy interest in financial instruments.

And now, back to the thread :D


Soitec seem to have done a good job, it will be interesting to see how far this is taken up in the future.
PingCrosby 18th April 2012, 20:26 Quote
'As well as its FD-3D and related planar FD-2D wafers, Soitec has announced plans to introduce strained silicon versions of its wafers.' I've rang Tunnocks and they said they're looking into this as it could be a fringe of copyright
west 18th April 2012, 23:30 Quote
@schmidtbag - this is a press release FROM Soitech. I doubt this article contains any trade secrets. They actually have a lot more information about their product(s) on their website.

@Obiwan - gas powered engines have been improving and still are. It's not fair to compare the progress of the combustion engine (over 200 years old) during the last 30 years to semi-conductors (about 60 years old). In all probability a lot more RnD hours have been dedicated to improving engines than to improving semi-conductors.
SexyHyde 19th April 2012, 02:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bede
Wut? As far as I'm aware, oil companies provide direct employment for millions of people, are the backbone of our economies and have single-handedly enabled the massive growth of the world's economy over the last hundred years. Without cheap energy the tech market could never have exploded like it has. Moore's law relies entirely on the availability of cheap energy. Without the long-chain hydrocarbons extracted from oil-wells the plastics industry would not exist at all. Without plastics, I'd imagine half the things you see in a room would not exist.

Oil companies may well ruin the environment, but please don't blame them for the economy - that is the product of government mismanagement and the financial markets' unhealthy interest in financial instruments.

They have positioned themselves at the core of the economy either destroying or buying and mothballing any competition that comes along. yes they were greatly responsible for a centuries worth of growth, but the oil industry needs to be happy with its lot and move over to the new breed of energy. shame they wont do that till the oil runs out.
Dave Lister 19th April 2012, 09:11 Quote
schmidtbag +1
SexyHyde +1

All the oil companies do now is stifle technological advancement. If abundant cheap energy is whats needed to progress then Tesla's work should never have been hushed up, because ultimately we would probably all have free electricity by now.
SexyHyde 20th April 2012, 02:49 Quote
I'm not into conspiracy theories but Tesla goes to show that bigger forces are at work behind the scenes without a doubt. Shame he was a little bit crazy as well as genius. what i wouldn't do to know what he knew.
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