The 14XM process combines 20nm interconnects with 14nm FinFET parts, creating a hybrid design GlobalFoundries claims offers the best of both worlds.
AMD spin-off fabrication specialist GlobalFoundries, recently freed from its parents' basement
, has announced plans to offer a 14nm process with FinFET for mobile chips significantly ahead of schedule - and in apparent response to Intel's recent rumblings regarding 14nm Broadwell parts.
Despite still scaling up its 20nm process, GlobalFoundries has announced that its 14nm process is all-but ready, already running in the company's latest fabrication facility in Saratoga County near New York. While GlobalFoundries is hoping to tempt its mobile-chip customers with the new ultra-tiny process - in particular, the company is working closely with British chip design giant ARM - there is one little caveat: it's a hybrid process.
Dubbed 14XM - for, apparently, eXtreme Mobility - the process combines 14nm FinFET 3D transistors with the same interconnect used on the 20nm-LPM process. The result is a hybrid not-quite-one-nor-t'other process that combines elements of 14nm and 20nm, with GlobalFoundries claiming that the hybrid approach will give it a rapid time to market and its customers a smooth transition to FinFET parts.
FinFET, which industry group Common Platform has previously promised for the 14nm process node
, takes the traditional two-dimensional transistor design and turns the conductive channel on its side, resulting in a three-dimensional 'fin' structure surrounded by a gate that controls the flow of current. The result is a field-effect transistor (FET) that can operate at a significantly lower voltage with low current leakage - exactly what mobile chips aimed at smartphones and tablets need.
One of the first chip types to benefit from the hybrid FinFET process node will be ARM, thanks to a multi-year agreement between the two companies to jointly develop system-on-chip solutions. 'In the growing era of extreme mobility, FinFET technology will be a critical enabler to the next generation of smart mobile devices,
' claimed Dipesh Patel, deputy general manager of the Physical IP Division at ARM. 'Through our early engagement and co-optimisation with GlobalFoundries, we will provide our mutual customers with a new level of system performance and an easier path to the benefits from FinFET technology. The result will be a platform which is well-suited for SoCs based on the next generation of ARM processors and GPUs for the mobile market.
More details on the 14XM process node are available on the GlobalFoundries website
, but if you're hoping for details on when the first 14XM-based smartphones will be hitting the market you're likely to be disappointed.