Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company this week unveiled its roadmap that includes transitions to 32nm and 28nm process technologies. The chipmaker decided that it will not use high-k metal gate (HKMG) technology with its 32nm fabrication process, but will use it with the 28nm node, which will be a major family of various manufacturing technologies aimed at different customers of TSMC.
From now on, TSMC’s 32nm process technology should be considered as an upgrade for the company’s 45nm/40nm manufacturing processes: just like predecessors it will use strained silicon, silicon oxynitride (SiON) as ultra low-k gate dielectric, copper interconnects ad so on. Usage of more conventional low-k dielectrics will allow TSMC to roll-out the 32nm process technology a little quicker, however, without high-k dielectrics the fabrication process will be less advanced compared to competing process technologies from companies like Chartered or IBM.
TSMC’s 28nm process technology is claimed to be a “full node” process that will offer low-k SiON dielectrics for 28LPT (low power/high performance) as well as high-k dielectrics for 28HP (high performance) process technologies.
The SiON-based 28LPT process is expected to provide twice the gate density, up to 50% more speed or 30-50% lower power consumption than TSMC’s 40nm low power (40LP) technology. The 28LPT process is expected to go into initial production in the beginning of 2010 and support applications like cellular baseband, application processors, wireless connectivity, and portable consumer electronics. Since SiON gate technology has smaller gate capacitance and therefore lower active power than HKMG, it provides a solution with lower total power, cost, and risk for power-limited applications, according to TSMC.
The 28HP process, TSMC’s first HKMG technology, will be aimed at performance-demanding applications such as central processing units (CPUs), graphics processing units (GPUs) and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) with twice the gate density and over 30% higher speed than TSMC’s 40nm general purpose (40G) process at similar power density. Going forward, the HKMG technology is very promising for device scaling at even smaller geometries beyond 28nm, TSMC indicated. The 28HP process is expected to enter initial production in the first half of 2010.
TSMC’s 28nm technologies are currently supported by alpha version design kits. The 28nm CyberShuttle, a prototyping service, will begin near the end of 2008 and features competitive cycle time and frequency, the foundry said.
It is interesting to note that TSMC is downplaying the importance of 32nm process technology which is projected to become ready for commercial production by the end of 2009.