Globalfoundries announces new 14nm XM technology

New 14nm three dimensional FinFET processors will offer better performance for mobile devices

Tags: CPUGLOBALFOUNDRIES IncorporationUnited Arab Emirates
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Globalfoundries announces new 14nm XM technology The 14nm-XM offering is based on a modular technology architecture that uses a 14nm FinFET device combined with elements of Globalfoundries’ 20nm-LPM process.
By  Mark Sutton Published  September 26, 2012

Globalfoundries has announced new ‘14nm-XM' microprocessor technology, which it says will improve performance and cut power consumption for mobile ships.

The Abu Dhabi-owned processor company says its new 14nm eXtreme Mobility transistors will bring the benefits of three dimensional FinFET transistors, including 40-60% better battery performance, along with lower cost and die size, compared to two dimensional planar transistors using 20nm silicon.

Globalfoundries says that the new technology, along with collaboration with industry eco-system partners, will speed up its roadmap for mobile devices including mobile system-on-chip (SoC) designs.

The 14nm-XM offering is based on a modular technology architecture that uses a 14nm FinFET device combined with elements of Globalfoundries' 20nm-LPM process. Due to the maturity of the 20nm-LPM technology, this will enable a smooth transition for customers looking to tap the benefits of FinFET SoCs as soon as possible. Technology development is already underway, with test silicon running through the company's Fab 8 facility New York state. Early process design kits (PDKs) are available now, with customer tape-outs expected in 2013.

"We have more than a decade of FinFET R&D to build on as we prepare to bring this technology to production," said Gregg Bartlett, chief technology officer at Globalfoundries. "We are confident this foundation will enable us to lead the foundry volume ramp of FinFETs, just as we did with High-K Metal Gate (HKMG)."

The FinFET architecture 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. A key benefit of FinFET technology is its superior low-power attributes. The 3D transistor design intrinsically operates at a lower voltage with minimal current leakage, which translates into longer battery life for mobile applications or less power consumption for plugged-in applications such as networking chips in datacenters.

"Many people don't realize that FinFETs build upon the same fundamental mobile driving force as today's HKMG technology," said G. Dan Hutcheson, CEO and chairman of VLSI Research. "While HKMG was a significant innovation in leakage reduction, FinFETs are a great leap forward in this value proposition that clear the way for many years of advancements. But to fully extract the value of FinFET technology, a company needs to be in volume production of HKMG. Globalfoundries has a head start in this area with almost two years of high-volume manufacturing experience with HKMG."

Globalfoundries reports that its process R&D and technology architecture teams are working closely with both internal design teams as well as design ecosystem partners to co-optimize the technology and design environments. The company has also signed a long term deal with ARM, to work on delivering ARM FinFET processors.

 "In the growing era of extreme mobility, FinFET technology will be a critical enabler to the next generation of smart mobile devices," said Dipesh Patel, deputy general manager of the Physical IP Division at ARM. "Through our early engagement and co-optimization 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."

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