Chipmakers are always looking to move to smaller nanometer
build processes. The smaller process allows them to get more chips on a single
wafer and helps improve power efficiency and performance at the same time.
Current processors from Intel are using 45nm technology. IBM
is leading an alliance of major semiconductor firms that includes Chartered
Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd., Freescale Inc., Infineon Technologies AG,
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd STMicroelectronics, and Toshiba Corp. in the
development of a new
High-K Metal gate material that promises to significantly improve the
performance of microprocessors.
The new material being used is known as high-k/metal gate
(HKMG) on silicon and is being manufactured at IBM’s 300mm semiconductor fab
facility in East Fishkill, New York. The new HKMG process is allowing IBM to
build circuits at 32nm. IBM says that this size reduction allows for 35% higher
performance that similar chips made using 45nm technology. IBM also says that
power savings on 32nm chips are from 30 to 50% compared to 45nm parts.
Gary Patton, vice president for IBM’s Semiconductor Research
and Development Center said in a statement, “These early high-k/metal gate
results demonstrate that by working together we can deliver leading-edge
technologies that handily surpass others in the industry. Demonstrating this
caliber of result in a practical environment means that as our collective
client base moves to next-generation technology by using the 'gate-first'
approach, they will continue to maintain a significant competitive advantage.”
IBM and its partners say that the new HKMG technology can be
extended down to 22nm. This will lead to significant performance increases and
power reductions in future chips made using the new HKMG technology.
IBM says that prototypes for the 32nm chips should be
available starting in Q3 2008. Intel will be introducing its 45nm Nehalem chips later in 2008 and reports say Intel has
plans for its own 32nm process in 2009.
quote: IBM has demonstrated the first SRAM chips manufactured using this process on CMOS, containing a 0.15 um2 cell size (picture on left)
quote: . They have also completed a similar SOI implementation which will be suitable for mass production of future multi-core processors.acheived with Bulk CMOS
quote: today announced that they have collectively demonstrated significant performance and power consumption advantages over industry standards by using a breakthrough material known as "high-k/metal gate” (HKMG) on silicon manufactured at IBM's state-of-art 300 millimeter (mm) semiconductor fabrication facility in East Fishkill, N.Y.