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Intel Hardware

TSMC and Global Foundries Plan Risky Process Jump As Intel Unveils 22nm SoC 60

MrSeb writes with news on the happenings with next generation fabrication processes. From the article: "... Intel's 22nm SoC unveil is important for a host of reasons. As process nodes shrink and more components move on-die, the characteristics of each new node have become particularly important. 22nm isn't a new node for Intel; it debuted the technology last year with Ivy Bridge, but SoCs are more complex than CPU designs and create their own set of challenges. Like its 22nm Ivy Bridge CPUs, the upcoming 22nm SoCs rely on Intel's Tri-Gate implementation of FinFET technology. According to Intel engineer Mark Bohr, the 3D transistor structure is the principle reason why the company's 22nm technology is as strong as it is. Earlier this year, we brought you news that Nvidia was deeply concerned about manufacturing economics and the relative strength of TSMC's sub-28nm planar roadmap. Morris Chang, TSMC's CEO, has since admitted that such concerns are valid, given that performance and power are only expected to increase by 20-25% as compared to 28nm. The challenge for both TSMC and GlobalFoundries is going to be how to match the performance of Intel's 22nm technology with their own 28nm products. 20nm looks like it won't be able to do so, which is why both companies are emphasizing their plans to move to 16nm/14nm ahead of schedule. There's some variation on which node comes next; both GlobalFoundries and Intel are talking up 14nm; TSMC is implying a quick jump to 16nm. Will it work? Unknown. TSMC and GlobalFoundries both have excellent engineers, but FinFET is a difficult technology to deploy. Ramping it up more quickly than expected while simultaneously bringing up a new process may be more difficult than either company anticipates."
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TSMC and Global Foundries Plan Risky Process Jump As Intel Unveils 22nm SoC

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  • SoC (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wiggin ( 97119 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @08:21PM (#42247543)

    In case anyone else was wondering, SoC stands for System on a Chip [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:SoC (Score:5, Informative)

    by slew ( 2918 ) on Monday December 10, 2012 @10:24PM (#42248383)

    There are many thing more complex with SoC vs just CPU-chips. Although CPUs are complicated beasts in their own rights, if you follow the recent trends, they stamp down 4 of the units on the chip with lots of cache and only a few different Input/Output pad connections (e.g., DRAM, DMI). On an SOC, you've got lots of different types of units (CPU's, GPUs, Video decoders, wireless MACs, USB controllers, etc), each having their own clock, power and I/O requirements, and most of the time some licensed designs from outside IP vendors (of varying quality and originating from different design and testing environments), which have to be all integrated on the same chip.

    Today, operations like place and route, timing closure, power and noise crosstalk, clock generation, etc, are tough things to do. If you only have a few identical things (say like 4 cores and 2 caches on a chip), you can leverage a lot of things between these modules. On an SoC, you need to do these things on all units, but you can't really leverage much between modules because they are so different, so some of the work is simply more complex (not necessarily harder, but more work and irregular work, so it's easier to overlook things, e..g., high complexity). There are also tons, secondary issues (e.g, thermal/electrical power sharing between GPU/CPU, low-power standby-modes), that you don't necessarily find in a CPU-only design that also need to designed and analyzed (can't fix them after you tape out the SoC, where you might be able to fix them on a board in a discrete design).

    On the electrical I/O front, designing and characterizing a few standard I/Os that only have to drive a few mm on fairly standardized circuit boards isn't the same as having lots of different I/Os that run at different frequencies and have varying drive voltage requirements and high density packaging that need to still have a routable board with good signal integrity in several different circuit board designs. Just because Intel could get a few standard low-swing I/Os running on their 22nm process didn't mean it was a cake walk for them to design I/Os that hooks to cables and run at higher voltages and have experience more severe ESD issues (don't want to zap you SoC when you walk across the carpet).

    The fact that they got the stuff they need for SoCs working from a design integration and electrical I/O point of view on their advanced 22nm process is certainly a big advance for them worthy of trumpeting...

  • Re:Well in this case (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bengie ( 1121981 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @09:10AM (#42249714)
    During a 3-5 year stretch during this recession, Intel was the ONLY company with fabs that kept R&D flat. Everyone else made drastic cuts. There is a lot of ground to cover.

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.