United Microelectronics Corp., a leading semiconductor foundry, on Wednesday announced a significant milestone for its high-k/metal-gate (HKMG) technology with validation of the process through 45nm SRAM product yield. The technology will be used for UMC's next generation 32/28nm process, which will be available in 2010.
“UMC is making steady progress in bringing our HKMG process towards 32/28nm pilot production so that our customers can benefit from the performance advantages of this technology. Despite the global economic uncertainties, UMC continues to move full speed ahead with our advanced technology R&D efforts. With our recent achievement of working 28nm SRAM, coupled with this latest HKMG process material validation, we are well positioned to offer customers a strong technology platform solution when our 32/28nm technology becomes available in 2010,” said Mr. S.C. Chien, vice president of advanced technology development at UMC.
In October 2008, UMC produced the foundry industry's first 28nm SRAM chips based on its low-leakage (LL) process, which utilized advanced double-patterning immersion lithography and strained silicon technology.
UMC's dual approach for its 32/28nm technology addresses different market applications. The foundry uses conventional silicon gate/silicon-oxy-nitride gate oxide technology for its LL process, which is ideal for portable applications such as mobile phone ICs, while the HKMG stack is primarily aimed at speed-intensive products such as graphic, application processor, and high-speed communication ICs.
In fact, according to the company, the HKMG option can also be customized for 32/28nm low power applications to address individual customer requirements.
Earlier this year UMC’s arch-rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. said that it would only use HKMG technology for its 28nm fabrication process due in 2010. Since 32nm process technology is likely to become available earlier than the 28nm tech, UMC may get the advantage over TSMC since the latter’s 32nm process does not feature high-k metal gate.