Foursome agrees to make 28nm fabs compatible

IBM, Samsung Electronics, GlobalFoundries and STMicroelectronics have agreed to match processes at their respective fabs so that chip designs for the upcoming 28nm process can be produced at multiple sources in three different continents with no redesign.

The members of the alliance have based their high-k, metal-gate process around a gate-first production method, in contrast to Intel and Taiwanese foundry TSMC, which prefer the gate-last approach. Although TSMC claims that manufacturers will ultimately move to gate-last, members of the Common Platform alliance argue that the gate-first method allows for denser chips. As a result, it is much difficult to move chip designs from a gate-first to a gate-last process.

“IBM has extensive experience synchronising multiple fabs, where we match rigorous  manufacturing specifications to critical design parameters,” said Gary Patton, vice president for IBM's Semiconductor Research and Development Center  “The result is that our advanced technology can be implemented in many fabs around the world and produce the same results, providing clients with multiple suppliers for their product designs.”
 
“Samsung has done extensive fab synchronisation work with Chartered and IBM in the past and welcomes the expansion of this activity with GlobalFoundries and STMicroelectronics at 28nm. We expect our customers will gain significant benefits in accelerated time to volume production and assurance of supply from the synergy of this collaboration,” said Jay Min, vice president of Samsung’s foundry business.
 
 The companies have released common 28nm circuits in their respective facilities to enable the synchronisation. Details such as transistor performance are being measured, benchmarked and optimised across the fabs. The first fab to complete synchronisation of the 28nm low-power technology process is targeted for late 2010, with product introduction to follow soon after.

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