16nm FinFET technology; TSMC fabs fully-functional networking processor

September 25, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
TSMC in collaboration with HiSilicon Technologies (Shenzhen, China) has announced that it has produced the foundry segment’s first fully-functional ARM-based networking processor with FinFET technology.

TSMC's 16FinFET process promises speed and power improvements as well as leakage reduction; TSMC says it has overcome challenges that lay in the way of progress to this step, but that the gains resulting from the exercise outweigh the effort needed to overcome critical barriers to further scaling of advanced SoC technology. The process node has twice the gate density of TSMC’s 28HPM process, and operates more than 40% faster at the same total power, or reduces total power over 60% at the same speed.

“Our FinFET R&D goes back over a decade and we are pleased to see the tremendous efforts resulted in this achievement,” said TSMC President and Co-CEO, Dr. Mark Liu. “We are confident in our abilities to maximise the technology’s capabilities and bring results that match our long track record of foundry leadership in advanced technology nodes.”

TSMC’s 16FinFET has entered risk production - “risk production” is TSMC’s term for, roughly speaking, early production runs which yield fully-working devices but before confidence is established that the process is in routing prodcution and is stable. TSMC claims excellent yields after completing all reliability qualifications in November 2013.

HiSilicon’s new processor enables a significant leap in performance and power optimisation supporting high-end networking applications. By using TSMC’s heterogeneous CoWoS® (Chip-on-Wafer-on-Substrate) 3D IC packaging process, HiSilicon integrates its 16-nm logic chips with a 28-nm I/O chip for a cost-effective system solution.

HiSilicon President Teresa He comments, “This, industry’s first 32-core ARM Cortex-A57 processor [has been] developed for next-generation wireless communications and routers... [it] is based on the ARMv8 architecture with processing speeds of up to 2.6 GHz. This networking processor's performance increases by three fold compared with its previous generation. Such a highly competitive product can support virtualisation, SDN and NFV applications for next-generation base stations, routers and other networking equipment, and meet our time-to-market goals.”

TSMC; www.tsmc.com

Hisilicon; www.hisilicon.com