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United Microelectronics Corp., a leading contract semiconductor foundry, said Tuesday it had produced functional 45nm SRAM chips. The company did not say when the new 45nm manufacturing process will be launched, but alluded that it is more or less ready now.

“This latest achievement demonstrates that UMC’s commitment to process technology leadership is stronger than ever. The 45nm node is a challenging technology generation that simultaneously introduces new materials and process modules. We are excited to be among the first companies in the world to produce working 45nm silicon, and are encouraged by the successful results realized for the initial 45nm wafer lots,” said Dr. Shih-Wei Sun, executive vice president of UMC’s central research & development division and Fab 12A.

The integrated circuits (ICs), produced using UMC’s independently developed logic process, used immersion lithography for its 12-layers and incorporated the latest technology advancements such as ultra shallow junction, mobility enhancement techniques, and ultra low-k dielectrics (k=2.5).

Immersion lithography is a resolution enhancement technique that interposes a liquid medium between the scanner optics and the wafer surface, replacing the traditional air gap. The optical resolution is enhanced since the immersion fluid, which has a higher refractive index than air, allows using lenses with a higher numerical aperture. The result is more accurate patterns imprinted on the silicon wafer.

The 45nm SRAM memory bit-cell and macro circuit require good minimum supply voltage capability, an area that UMC has been paying special attention to since the early stages of 45nm process development, the company said. Good minimum supply voltage capability is an important aspect for 45nm due to the demanding power saving requirements of today’s advanced portable electronics. In addition, by using optional circuits built into the test vehicle, the minimum supply voltage level can be further improved to achieve excellent power behavior, the manufacturer indicated.

Producing working SRAM is a key first-step in demonstrating technology performance and process reliability prior to engaging customers for the manufacturing of their 45nm products. UMC’s 45nm process features a 30% design rule shrink, 50% 6-transistor SRAM cell size shrink, and a 30% device performance gain over the 65nm technology node, which is in production at UMC for several customer products.

Intel Corp., the world’s leading maker of semiconductors, demonstrated working SRAM components made using 45nm process technology in late January, 2006, and is planning to start revenue shipments of chips made using 45nm fabrication process in the third or the fourth quarter of the year 2007.

“UMC will continue to build on its 45nm momentum to enhance yields and prepare the technology for adoption by our foundry customers,” Dr. Shih-Wei Sun said.

Development for UMC’s 45nm process is taking place at the foundry’s 300mm Fab 12A, located in Tainan Science Park in southern Taiwan.

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