IBM to Mix SOI with Strained Silicon

New Manufacturing Process [for AMD and NVIDIA] on the Way

by Anton Shilov
09/11/2003 | 02:01 PM

IBM announced intentions to bring a hybrid SOI (Silicon on Insulator) and Strained Silicon fabrication technology in several years from now. The company claims that its new SSDOI technology will allow manufacturing higher performance computer chips that have relatively low power consumption and power leakage.


IBM said it had developed the first transistor using strained silicon directly on insulator (SSDOI) technology that provides high performance while eliminating manufacturing problems. Also, IBM is the first to combine two different underlying silicon layers that simultaneously maximize the performance of the key transistors used in complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) devices, which are the foundation for everything from cell phones to PCs and to supercomputers.

SOI and Strained Silicon appear to be the technologies that AMD and Intel pin a lot of hopes on during the next three to five years. Both technologies are intended to keep increasing the speed of current flowing through a microprocessor and to address the connected issues, such as power leakage. SOI adds a thin oxide layer to a silicon wafer in order to insulate the circuit against power leakage. Strained silicon deposites a layer of silicon germanium on top of a silicon wafer. This stretches the silicon atoms to let electrons flow faster through a circuit.

The SSDOI structure was created by transferring strained silicon grown epitaxially, or layer by layer, on relaxed SiGe to a buried oxide layer. The SiGe layer was removed before fabricating the device. Strain retention was confirmed in the strained silicon layer after the layer transfer process and thermal cycles. Electron and hole mobility enhancements were confirmed in MOSFETs fabricated on SSDOI. Fabrication of sub-60nm FETs were also demonstrated on SSDOI.

To sum up, the most promising semiconductor manufacturing technologies will be combined by IBM to serve its clients and manufacture its own processors. One of IBM’s partners is AMD, who utilised IBM’s SOI technology for its x86-64 CPUs and still has not managed to make its K8 microprocessors to run at high-speeds. Another well-known client of IBM is NVIDIA, who is looking forward to return its 3D graphics performance crown.