IBM and partners produce 32nm high-k test wafers

IBM, working with its semiconductor production partners, claims to have produced wafers on an prototype 32nm process that use a high-k/metal-gate stack.

The wafers were made at IBM’s 300mm fab in East Fishkill, New York, and claimed that its partners in the project, which include Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, Freescale Semiconductor, Infineon Technologies, Samsung Electronics and STMicroelectronics, are now able to go ahead with advance programmes with their customers.

IBM claimed that its process can offer a power reduction of 30 to 50 per cent compared with 45nm depending on the operating voltage, but did not clarify at the time of writing whether this was active or standby power consumption. Analysis of test chip using library components demonstrated a speed increase of up to 40 per cent over conventional polysilicon gates using the same dimensions.

“These early high-k/metal gate results demonstrate that by working together we can deliver leading-edge technologies that handily surpass others in the industry,” said Gary Patton, vice president of IBM’s semiconductor research and development centre on behalf of the technology alliance. “Demonstrating this calibre of result in a practical environment means that as our collective client base moves to next-generation technology by using the ‘gate-first’ approach, they will continue to maintain a significant competitive advantage.”

The Common Platform alliance partners IBM, Chartered and Samsung will offer a common 32nm process based on high-k/metal gates and will implement a ‘half-node’ 28nm process based on the materials. A multiproject-wafer prototyping programme should start in the third quarter of this year, with plans for quarterly shuttles.

“The semiconductor marketplace remains one of the most competitive in the world. Early market introduction combined with strong product differentiation is critical to success,” said Dirk Wrister, director of process technology at Freescale. “This early design and modelling work indicates that the high-k/metal gate technology is going to deliver a significant product and performance differentiation. These early results are a significant step in the demonstration of high-k/metal gate viability in 32nm technology.”

Image: IBM aims to start running wafers for customers later this year

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