Archive for January, 2007

Intel and 45nm technology breakthrough

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Intel is hogging the silicon limelight with it’s news on the technology breakthrough - usage of high-k and metal gate transistors for 45nm technology.

Scaling without losing out much on leakage is the driving advantage. The major advantage, though, is that with this technique, Intel will not have to significantly change its current production process. This is different from the alternative solution being disclosed by IBM and its partners. The latter involves SOI which is a more expensive production technique and they plan to later switch to immersion lithography. Another lead for Intel is that the production with this new technique starts mid this year whereas IBM plans production in end 2008.

Having said that, it still appears that while Intel has stolen the lead in announcing the breakthrough with earlier production planned (and that too across servers, desktops and laptop applications), IBM will have a long term advantage as its technology involves integration of the metal gates so that they are embedded in silicon as compared to Intel where they sit atop a proven silicon architecture – thus solving long range problems and more future transitions.

Freescale places R&D bet with IBM

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Another salvo to Crolles2 Alliance. After NXP’s announcement on its exit from Crolles2 Alliance, comes the statement from Freescale that it is joining the IBM Alliance.

Apart from investing in leading edge chip R&D, some of the potential benefits for Freescale in this alliance are leveraging capacity at Chartered and possible wireless co-development efforts with Infineon. Freescale also expects to significantly accelerate its SOI roadmap with this IBM partnership.

This leaves STM as the lone original member of the Crolles2 alliance. A potential new partner will need to have deep pockets to fund expansion of the group’s 300mm fab as well as work on 45nm and beyond processes. This is apart from a good fit from the technology standpoint. TI is touted as one of the possible candidates. However with the latest announcement from TI to end leading edge digital logic process development at 45nm and rely on foundries is set to have important implications on this.

Low Power Specification Format War

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Cadence’s primary EDA rivals felt that Power Forward Initiative introduced by Cadence in May ’06 wasn’t open and inclusive and joined another coalition – Accellera UPF effort in Sep. Si2’s Low Power Committee (LPC) was set up in Oct as an attempt to bridge the gap and address users’ requirement of having a single low power specification format.

Si2 first approved CPF 1.0 saying that its approval of CPF 1.0 does not constitute taking sides and that they have declared it as a “specification” and not a “standard”. This may be a conciliatory offer to Accellera which said that they are actively working with Si2 to converge UPF and CPF into a single standard. Then Si2 issued a RFT to complement the CPF and Cadence in its response has now provided them the source code of its CPF 1.0 parser; in the process opening the door to tool implementation that supports CPF ……. and hence giving another push to boost their format

NXP exits Crolles2 Alliance

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

In its new avatar, Philips Semiconductor, now NXP exits Crolles2 Alliance, a partnership formed in 2000 and renewed in 2002, and teams up with TSMC.

As we further scale the technologies and the fab and associated costs increase, alliances is no longer an option; it’s mandatory. Amongst the present big ones, the Chartered, IBM, Samsung, Infineon alliance seems to be the more promising one overall. IBM is also reportedly in talks with the other two Crolles2 partners, STM and Freescale, to join Crolles2 Alliance.

Freescale had been pushing to get IBM into the Alliance while STM was pushing for TSMC. NXP has an asset lite strategy (it plans to increase its outsourcing ratio to 40% by 2010, from its present 10-20%) and it seems logical for it to strengthen its cooperation with its long time foundry partner, TSMC.

Characterization tool for SSTA

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

A boost to SSTA…..Altos has introduced Variety, a SSTA library characterization tool. While there do exist similar tools in the market, Altos’ niche factor is that it supports multiple formats (unlike Cadence, Synopsys, IBM, Magma etc. which support only their proprietary formats). This is definitely an advantage as it gives flexibility to the user to switch across various flows/vendors.

Characterization speed and accuracy, the two most important aspects in library characterization, are something which Altos promises through this tool.

Apple unleashes iPhone

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

While launching iTV, Apple CEO, Steve Jobs mentioned, “Apple is in your den, in your living room, in your car, and in your pocket, I hope this gives you a little bit of an idea of where we’re going.”

Now a few months down the road, Apple has indeed added another gizmo for the pocket by introducing iPhone. Yet another player in the mobile phone/smart phone market. This time, however, as it is from iconic Apple, expectations are bound to be (“ahem”) a bit different – stylish, user friendly and features rich??

Waiting to see whether iPhone will have the same success as the iPod….
Apple’s shares have already registered a 6.7 % increase with the latest product launches – first Apple box/iTV and now iPhone.