French company Soitec is a manufacturer and developer of Silicon On Insulator wafers that is headquartered in Bernin, France.
is well known to the computer enthusiasts all over the world, as this is the technology AMD used to manufacture its CPUs since the 2003 K8 architecture
. The initiator of SOI was in fact IBM,
and they’ve had a close collaboration with AMD on SOI.
The difference between the SOI 28nm wafers and the bulk 28 nm manufacturing process is the fact that SOI offers less leakage current, less power consumption and, consequently, less heat dissipation.
It may be a little more expensive, but when you want your CPUs to work at 4 GHz instead of 2 GHz, you’ll probably look at anything but the bulk 28 nm manufacturing process.
A clear proof of what SOI can do for chip manufacturing is the fact that, because of the higher quality of the 28 nm manufacturing process at GlobalFoundries (GF) that uses SOI, AMD and Qualcomm gave up on TSMC and went to GF for manufacturing their new designs in 28 nm.
The current SOI process used by AMD is actually called PD SOI. That’s short for Partially Depleted SOI.
The difference is the fact that FD-SOI has an ultra-thin Buried Oxide over the base silicon, while PD-SOI actually is thicker having a “Body” over the Buried Oxide.
It doesn’t really matter how it looks, but Soitec’s compatriot, STMicro says that from their own study of the FD-SOI technology, the advantage FD-SOI has over their own 28 nm bulk process is 61 percent higher at 1V (volt) and gets even more interesting at lower VDD (Voltage Drain Drain), showing a 550 percent improvement at 0.6V.
Intel’s Tri-gate 3D transistor concept is based on PhD Chenming Calvin Hu’s ideas. Dr. Hu is TSMC distinguished professor of microelectronics at the University of California, Berkeley, but between 2001 and 2004, he was the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of TSMC.
Soitec’s FD-SOI is the French company’s answer to Intel’s finFETs.
Sure Intel has huge FABs and lots of R&D money but Soitec’s customers are, among others, AMD, Freescale Semiconductor, Mitsubishi Electric, OKI, IBM Microelectronics, Philips Semiconductors, Sony and Toshiba.
Therefore, when all these companies are going SOI, and some of them are already using Soitec’s FD-SOI wafers, like STMicro and IBM, you’ll wonder if Intel’s 14nm process isn’t too far away for the American/Israeli company to be competitive.