The foundry-fabless industry has demonstrated excellent performance in ramping 28 nm HKMG (High-K Metal Gate) technology into high-volume production. Additionally, both gate-last and gate-first technologies are giving high yields and reliable products.
Intel has high-volume production of its 22 nm Tri-Gate products, and its feature dimensions do not require double patterning. The second-generation Haswell 22 nm processor is also demonstrating high performance as well as long battery lifetime.
The next logical technology node is 20 nm HKMG, and TSMC is projecting 20 nm will represent 10% of its 2014 revenues ($2.2 billion to $2.3 billion) and 20% of its fourth-quarter revenues ($1.10 billion to $1.15 billion). With the capacity of 60,000 wafers per month (WPM), the average price for 20 nm wafers in the fourth quarter at $1.1 billion will be around $6,000. This is a relatively large increase in pricing compared with 28 nm wafers, which sell at $4,500.00 to $5,000.00. If TSMC achieves its projection for 20 nm, the company will have 95% of the 20 nm foundry market in the fourth quarter 2014.
There are, however, challenges in controlling leakage and gaining high yields of application processors and modems that require low leakage. If 20 nm does not provide low leakage with cost penalties compared to 28 nm, an alternate option is 28 nm FD-SOI. The wafer cost of 28 nm FD-SOI is comparable to 28 nm bulk CMOS, with performance potentially being 15% superior to 20 nm bulk CMOS.
Consequently, Samsung Electronics has a major opportunity with its large wafer capacity to support low-leakage products with its 28 nm FD-SOI process. Cadence Design Systems, Synopsys, and Mentor Graphics are all supporting the FD-SOI ecosystem, and the transition from 28 nm bulk HKMG to FD-SOI should be inexpensive.
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