New 8SW RF SOI Platform Leads the Industry

By: Shankaran Janardhanan

The world’s first mainstream RF SOI foundry platform manufactured on 300mm wafers offers an unmatched combination of best-in-class performance, cost effectiveness and flexibility

GF recently announced some exciting news for designers of RF front end modules. At our flagship annual technology conference, GTC, we unveiled a 300mm RF SOI platform for 4G LTE and sub-6 GHz mobile/wireless applications, which we are calling 8SW.

It offers impressive technical specifications and gives our customers unbeatable economic and time-to-market advantages.

But actually, those aren’t its only noteworthy features. What’s also noteworthy is the fact that it is a tangible result of something intangible by nature but vitally important nonetheless – the unique relationships, mutual respect and deep trust we and our customers share. In a nutshell, we couldn’t have developed it without the support and close working relationships we have with our customers.

With the acquisition of IBM’s Microelectronics business, GF not only gained deep technical knowledge in RF but it has fostered and built upon a legacy of customer intimacy. The result is a new chip-manufacturing technology with a comprehensive set of advanced features that gives customers exactly what they need the most.

Our new 8SW RF-SOI platform provides an unparalleled combination of best-in-class performance, cost effectiveness and the flexibility needed to build chips for the complex front-end modules (FEMs) required by rapidly evolving mobile/wireless communication applications.

It’s not only the best combination of switching, LNA (low-noise amplifier) and logic capabilities on the market, but as a 300mm RF SOI process it uses larger wafers and more sophisticated tooling, bringing compelling economic, design and time-to-market advantages. It also features all-copper interconnect for more current-carrying capacity and efficiency.

The new 8SW platform features switching speeds of sub 85fs, which is about 25 percent faster than our existing 200mm RF-SOI process. For LNAs, it offers peak fMAX of more than 250GHz. Logic circuitry is extremely dense and can operate at either 1.2V or 1.8V, with a power reduction of more than 70 percent versus the previous platform.

Source: Adapted from The5th Generation Mobile Wireless Networks

In addition, overall die size can be as much as 20 percent smaller. Combined with the fact that 300mm wafers are larger and yield more chips, the result is that the new 8SW process enables much more cost-efficient and faster design/development cycles because there is more wafer area available to use for test sites, design variations and multiple simultaneous projects. Time-to-market is also increased because 300mm production tools reduce variability by more than 30 percent versus the 200mm process.

Working Closely With Customers

In developing the 8SW RF SOI platform, we’ve taken dual product- and customer-centric approaches. We worked closely with customers because we needed to understand their detailed knowledge of application requirements as we developed the 8SW platform.

One example of this approach was our recognition of the need to focus our development efforts on continuously improving LNA performance as signals come out of transceiver and move into the front end modules. This focus was a direct result of our close work with customer design teams to ensure the 8SW platform would meet rapidly developing advanced 4G LTE requirements.

The new 8SW platform is manufactured at GF’s 300mm production line in East Fishkill, NY, providing customers with ample capacity because it leverages a partially-depleted SOI technology base that has been in high-volume production since 2008.

About Author

Shankaran Janardhanan

Shankaran, GF’s Director of Product Line Management for RF, has made many contributions to the technical development and business success of RF products over his entire career. In his current role he has global product responsibility for GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ industry-leading portfolio of RF solutions. He was previously GF’s manager of RF business development and field applications. Before that he was at TowerJazz, where he had various roles in design engineering, technology and product management for RF and MEMS products, and where he managed the design support function. He has an M.B.A. from University of California–Berkeley and an M.S. in electrical engineering from Temple University.