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GlobalFoundries announces 14nm FinFET process

GlobalFoundries announces 14nm FinFET process

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.

4 Comments

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MrGumby 21st September 2012, 13:41 Quote
Interesting times in the process shrinking business. I remember an article in CPC years ago talking about going from 65nm to 45nm and that 32nm was possible.
I enjoy seeing how problems get solved or worked around.
Alecto 21st September 2012, 14:11 Quote
They cannot deliver 28 nm product while TSMC has been shipping those in volume since 2011 yet they are boasting about 14 nm, FinFET to top it off. They are conveniently forgetting to mention that products based on this process (mobile, as the name implies) are likely to become avaliable only in 2014-15, with high performance parts to be delayed further still.
Lazy_Amp 24th September 2012, 03:42 Quote
I'm forever surprised with every positive article Bit-Tech has of Global Foundaries. The company delayed Llano for months, and Trinity products are a trickle on what should be a mature process. You have no information on when 28nm will be ready, even while competitor TSMC has had products on the market since the beginning of the year, and since then we've seen 22nm products from Intel.

Now you're taking news from GF about an even more advanced process at complete face value... this is journalism?

And I'm not wanting GF to fail in the slightest, that doesn't mean they're above honest criticism.
Gareth Halfacree 24th September 2012, 09:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazy_Amp
I'm forever surprised with every positive article Bit-Tech has of Global Foundaries. The company delayed Llano for months, and Trinity products are a trickle on what should be a mature process. You have no information on when 28nm will be ready, even while competitor TSMC has had products on the market since the beginning of the year, and since then we've seen 22nm products from Intel.
If you know of a source willing to talk on the record about issues at GlobalFoundries, let me know.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazy_Amp
Now you're taking news from GF about an even more advanced process at complete face value... this is journalism?
If I was "taking news from [GlobalFoundries] about an even more advanced process at complete face value," I wouldn't have specifically pointed out that it's not actually a 14nm process node but a hybrid between 20nm and 14nm.
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