During the TSMC 2011 Technology Symposium here, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) rolled out what could be the industry’s first manufacturing process optimized for chips used in smartphones and tablets.
As Shang-Yi Chiang, senior vice president of R&D at TSMC, explains:
The technology is a new member of its 28-nm process offerings. Called 28HPM or high-performance mobile, the process is tuned for smartphones, tablets and related products.
It is also reportedly the process tuned for Apple Inc. As reported, there are rumors that TSMC will make the next-generation version of the A5 processor on a foundry basis for Apple.
The process is geared for other TSMC customers in the smartphone/tablet space, such as NVIDIA, Qualcomm, among others. Asked if 28HPM is aimed for a single customer, Chiang said the process is tuned for processors based on ARM Holding plc’s technology.
At present, TSMC is offering three 28-nm processes. One offering, CLN28LP, is a low-power process based on a traditional silicon dioxide gate-stack technology. The silicon foundry giant is also offering two other processes based on its first high-k/metal-gate technology. One of those processes, CLN28HPL, is also a low-power technology. Another offering, CLN28HP, is a high-performance process.
TSMC’s high-k processes have passed the ”full reliability qualification” stage, Chiang told EE Times in an interview. It is shipping prototype wafers to two customers, he said.
He denied reports that the technology is later than expected. It is widely believed that TSMC’s high-k/metal-gate processes were due out late last year. Chiang added:
We have not delayed any customers
Before TSMC enters the 20-nm era, the company will offer a new member of its 28-nm family-CLN28HPM. Based on TSMC’s first-generation, high-k/metal-gate technology, CLN28HPM enables applications processors and related products at clock speeds of greater than 1.8-GHz at 440mW.
Like the other 28-nm processes, CLN28HPM has a core voltage of 0.9-V and supports 1.8- and 2.5-V I/Os. It is ready for production in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Following 28-nm, TSMC also talked about its previously-announced 20-nm processes, including CLN20G (general-purpose) and CLN20SoC. Based on high-k/metal-gate technology, CLN20G is slated for risk production in Q4 2012 while CLN20SoC is due in Q2 2013.