Globalfoundries Accelerates 14nm Roadmap, Tries Catching Up to Intel

Paul Lilly

It's taken Intel just three years to shrink its system-on-chip (SoC) process node from 32nm to 14nm (with a pitstop at 22nm along the way), and by 2014, it will be shipping 14nm chips in volume. Can anyone compete? Globalfoundries intends to give it an honest effort by aggressively accelerating its roadmap with a 14nm process of its own. The company's competing 14nm-XM (eXtreme Mobility) process will leverage 3D FinFET transistor technology for higher performance and better power efficiency in mobile devices.

According to Globalfoundries, shifting to 14nm-XM will deliver anywhere from 40-60 percent better battery life compared to today's devices built using 2D planar transistors at the 20nm node.

"We have more than a decade of FinFET R&D to build on as we prepare to bring this technology to production," said Gregg Bartlett , Chief Technology Officer at Globalfoundries. "We are confident this foundation will enable us to lead the foundry volume ramp of FinFETs, just as we did with High-K Metal Gate (HKMG)."

FinFET expands on the traditional 2D transistor design by flipping the conductive channel on its side, thus creating a three-dimensional "fin" structure surrounded by a gate that controls the flow of current, Globalfoundries explains. The resulting 3D transistor operates at a lower voltage with very little current leak. It's somewhat similar to Intel's Tri-Gate transistor architecture found in its Ivy Bridge processors.

Not all 3D transistors are the same, however, and Globalfoundries says its 14nm-XM architecture represents the optimal balance between performance and power consumption, while managing to minimize die dize and cost at the same time.

If you have about 14 minutes to spare , check out what else Mike Noonen, executive vice president of marketing sales at Globalfoundries, has to say about finFET technology.

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