- SerDes technology will enable 12 gigabits per second performance, 20 percent faster than current technology
- Designed to optimize storage area networking, Ethernet switching and wireless infrastructure applications
MONDAY NOVEMBER 3, 2003 - ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- Just months after becoming the first company to ship a communications semiconductor chip in 130 nanometer (nm), low-k technology, Agere Systems (NYSE: AGR.A, AGR.B) today announced it has produced the fastest working high-speed serial interface circuits in 90 nm low-k technology. Agere's 90nm serializer/deserializer (SerDes) technology will enable speeds of 12 gigabits per second (Gbits/s), 20 percent faster than currently available technology.
Agere manufactured the SerDes technology at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) (NYSE: TSM), the world's largest semiconductor foundry. Agere tested and validated the capability of the SerDes sub-blocks to meet the performance required for 12 Gbits/s in both NRZ and PAM-4 encoding configurations, allowing customers to choose the optimum configuration based on their system requirements for existing and new applications.
"SerDes is one of the most critical technologies enabling broadband communications," said Necip Sayiner, vice president of Agere's Networking ASIC business. "SerDes is the underlying technology that will allow consumers to gain fast and easy access to large amounts of data when and where they want it. Agere's SerDes technology embedded in an ASIC or standard product will provide faster, less expensive communications systems and information appliances such as data capable wireless handsets and personal digital assistants (PDAs)."
SerDes technology is a critical part of most new communications microchip designs because it enables the transfer of large volumes of data at very high speeds over very few channels. A SerDes core performs input and output functions that increase and decrease the transmission speed and reception of voice, data and video signals through copper and fiber optic cables. Agere's SerDes technology enables much faster chips that are significantly smaller and consume less power than systems without integrated SerDes. Faster communications and computing devices have been made possible, in part, because of enhancements in SerDes technology. Agere has been a leading provider of SerDes technology since introducing the technology more than a decade ago.
Agere, the No. 1 provider of systems on a chip (SoCs) for storage applications, has one of the broadest portfolios of SerDes and high-speed interface technology in the industry. Agere's interface portfolio supports speeds from 155 megabits per second to 10 Gbits/s and offers integration into SoCs compliant with industry standards. Agere's entire SerDes portfolio will be available in 90nm technology, enabling greater functional integration of Fibre Channel, SATA, SAS and PCI Express systems. By providing ASICs and SoCs with embedded SerDes in 90nm technology, Agere can offer more cost effective solutions using less power for storage area networking systems.
Agere's SerDes cores are integrated in Agere ASIC system chips, standard product systems-on-a-chip, and standalone SerDes/bridge devices. The new 90nm SerDes portfolio is expected to be available for customers to design in their next generation ASICs in the summer of 2004.
Agere and TSMC Solve Low-k Challenge
Agere is one of a few companies successfully implementing new chips based on the industry's most advanced process technology from TSMC. 90 nanometers is about 1/1,000th the width of a human hair. The copper interconnect in the integrated circuit is separated by a thin layer of insulation dielectric film material. An integral part of each transistor, the material insulates the circuits from each other and minimizes the delay and "drag" on signals traveling through the wires. Chips produced with lower-k dielectrics are faster than chips with higher-k dielectrics. The dielectrics with low k-value are typically defined as those with constants below three.
Agere and TSMC have done extensive research to prove the reliability of low-k dielectrics for use in advanced integrated circuits, thereby solving a problem vexing the industry for several years. This year, Agere's DSP16411 was the first communications chip mass-produced using a low-k dielectric, which provided a higher level of performance than competing chips.
"Agere is continuing to push the leading edge of technology utilizing the industry's only proven low-k technology," said Genda Hu, vice president of marketing for TSMC. "Companies that are able to harness the capabilities of TSMC's low-k process technology are going to be the leaders in the semiconductor industry."
Agere's AGR90 ASIC Platform
Agere's 90nm ASIC technology, available from the AGR90 ASIC Platform, was introduced in 2002 based on TSMC's Nexsys™ 90 nm process for wafer fabrication. Leveraging Agere's rich portfolio of communications intellectual property (IP), Agere's new AGR90 ASIC Platform can accelerate the pace at which Agere's customers deliver their products to market by approximately six months. Such customers include manufacturers of wireline and wireless networking equipment, storage area networking systems, Ethernet switches and other communications products. Using such technology, Agere's platform can also shrink the size as well as lower silicon costs and power consumption of such equipment. In addition, the technology provides the foundation for substantially increasing wireline and wireless Internet speeds and information carrying capacities of such equipment compared with current semiconductor process technology.
About Agere Systems
Agere Systems is a premier provider of advanced integrated circuit solutions for wireless data, high-density storage and multiservice networking applications. Agere's wireless data portfolio enables seamless network access and Internet connectivity through its GPRS offering for data-capable cellular phones, as well as Wi-Fi/802.11 solutions for wireless LANs and computing applications. The company is the market leader in providing integrated circuits for the hard disk drive market, with number one positions in sales of system-on-a-chip solutions and preamplifiers. Agere also provides custom and standard multiservice networking solutions to move information across wired, wireless and enterprise networks. Agere's customers include the leading PC manufacturers, wireless terminal providers, network equipment suppliers and hard-disk drive providers. More information about Agere Systems is available from its web site at www.agere.com.