TSMC Offers Designer Nano-Scale Manufacturing Process - InformationWeek

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TSMC Offers Designer Nano-Scale Manufacturing Process

Wafers built using the 40-nm technique will produce CPUs, graphics chips, networking processors, and FPGA designs for high-performance consumer devices.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing said Monday it plans to start offering customers a 40-nanometer manufacturing process for building lower power and general-purpose semiconductors.

The chipmaker plans to offer low-power 40LP products for wireless and portable devices, and 40G general-purpose technology for CPUs, graphics processing units (GPUs), game consoles, networking and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) designs and other high-performance consumer devices.

The 40-nm process is considered a designer chip in manufacturing standards. In the last eight years, chipmakers have reduced their volume CMOS semiconductor fabrication manufacturing process from a longtime standard of 130 nanometers to the introduction of 90-nm chips in 2002 and the 65-nm technique in 2006. Most of the major chipmakers are investing heavily in the 45-nm designs being used today. The next breakthrough step for semiconductor manufacturing is the 32-nm processes.

TSMC claims its 40-nm product footprint is smaller that its 45-nm devices, and the SRAM cell size of the former is the smallest in the industry at 0.242 of a micrometer. The 40 nm process uses a combination of 193 nm immersion photolithography and extreme low-k, or ELK, material.

Highlights of the 40-nm process include a raw gate density improvement of 2.35 times that of TSMC's 65-nm process, and a significant power savings over current 45-nm technologies.

"Our design flow can take designs started at 45 nm and target it toward the advantages of 40 nm," John Wei, senior director of advanced technology marketing at TSMC, said in a statement. "A lot of TSMC development work has gone into ensuring that this transition is truly transparent. Designers need only concentrate on achieving their performance objectives."

TSMC is the world's largest independent semiconductor foundry. Headquartered in Hsinchu, Taiwan, the company offers a variety of wafer product lines. Fabless high-tech customers include ATI, the graphics chipmaker owned by Advanced Micro Devices; Broadcom, Conexant, Marvell, Nvidia, and VIA.

Sun Microsystems in February chose TSMC as the foundry for future generations of UltraSparc chips, which would be based on a 45-nm manufacturing process. Texas Instruments, which had been Sun's foundry for two decades, would continue to test and package Sun processors.

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