IBM this week announced that members of its Bulk Process Alliance -- Globalfoundris, Chartered Semiconductor, Sasmung Electronics, ST Microelectronics, Infineon Technologies -- have begun jointly developing 28nm, high-k metal gate, low-power bulk complementary metal oxide semiconductor process technology (forgot about saying that three times fast, try doing it just once!).
"Clients can begin their designs today in leadership 32nm HKMG technology and then transition to 28nm technology for density and power advantages, without the need for a major redesign," IBM said. "By assuring a path from 32nm to 28nm technology, this migration methodology offers clients lower risk, reduced cost, and faster time-to-market."
The move to 28nm is an important one that purports to provide 40 percent better performance than current 45nm parts, while also reducing power consumption by 20 percent. Moreover the HKMG technology offers better power leakage characteristics for longer battery life, which added altogether will be a boon for mobile devices.
As if the semiconductor market needed any more bad news, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) released a statement showing how bad worldwide sales of semiconductors have fallen in the past year, while warning that the industry has yet to hit rock bottom.
"The global semiconductor industry is going through one of the steepest corrections in its history," said SIA President George Scalise. "While it would be premature to conclude that the sales decline has hit bottom, there are some indications that the rate of decline has moderated from the final quarter of 2008. The industry responded quickly to the changing market environment by curtailing production and reducing inventory as demand slowed in late 2008. The world’s two largest foundry manufacturers have recently reported slight improvements in factory utilization rates, albeit at levels well below those of a year ago," Scalise continued.
According to SIA, worldwide semiconductor sales sat at just $14.2 billion in February 2009, a decline of a little more than 30 percent over February 2008 when sales reached 20.3 billion. It also represents a 7.6 percent drop from one month ago when sales were $15.3 billion in January.
Scalise warned that sales are expected to keep falling "well below 2008 levels" for the foreseeable future.