They are used in various SoCs and other integrated circuits
The smaller a manufacturing processing node is, the better the hardware that can be made, which is why Globalfoundries has decided to speed up development and adoption of the 20nm low power process and the 14nm-XM FinFET process.Analog/mixed signal (AMS) design at advanced processes has unique requirements, which is why Globalfoundries is trying to promote a new reference flow which establishes a working flow from specification to physical verification.
There are several that are being explored at the moment. Globalfoundries is collaborating with Cadence Design Systems, Mentor Graphics and Synopsys on it.
Mentor has vested interest, because its Olympus-SoC is going to be designed on the 20nm and/or 14nm FinFET processes.
Synopsys is more focused on reducing the impact of changes associated with the 3-D nature of FinFET devices (compared to planar transistors).
Then, there's Cadence, whose complete RTL-GDSII flow (including physical synthesis) supports double patterning and advanced 20- and 14-nm routing rules.
"As the developer of the industry's first modular 14nm FinFET technology and one of the leaders at 20nm, we understand that enabling designs at these advanced process nodes requires innovative methodologies to address unprecedented challenges," said Andy Brotman, vice president of design infrastructure at GLOBALFOUNDRIES.
"By working with a new level of collaboration with EDA partners, we can provide enhanced insight into our manufacturing processes in order to fully leverage the capabilities of 20nm and 14nm manufacturing. This provides our mutual customers with the most efficient, productive and risk-reduced approach to achieving working silicon."
Efficiency and productivity improvements in the Cadence Virtuoso environment are supported, most notably Virtuoso Advanced Node 12.1. Mentor's Calibre nmDRC, nmLVS, and extraction products will work particularly well also.
In layman terms, the flows are meant to enable Globalfoundries to more tightly compete with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the current leader of the foundry industry.