Anti-Intel alliance synchronises 28nm production

IBM, Samsung Electronics, GlobalFoundries and STMicroelectronics have announced they are collaborating to 'synchronise' fabs for the production of chips based on 28nm process technology jointly developed by the IBM Technology Alliance.

The move means the allied firms will be able to produce similar chips at multiple sources over three different continents to meet customer orders.

The Intel Outside alliance is based at IBM's facility in East Fishkill, New York and includes GlobalFoundries, IBM, Infineon Technologies, Renesas Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics and Toshiba.

IBM, Samsung and GlobalFoundries are all members of the Common Platform alliance and have roped in the manufacturing expertise of STMicroelectronics to develop and standardise 28nm process technology.

The 28nm process technology is aimed at the next generation of "smart mobile devices" such as smartphones, tablets and netbooks.

The chips will use bulk complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS), and high-k metal gate (HKMG) processes.

The alliance says its "Gate First" technology is superior to other (read Intel's) HKMG solutions in both scalability and manufacturability, offering a smaller die size and compatibility with design elements and process flows from previous technology nodes.

"IBM has extensive experience synchronising multiple fabs, where we match rigorous manufacturing specifications to critical design parameters," said Gary Patton, vice president for IBM's Semiconductor Research and Development Center. "The result is that our advanced technology can be implemented in many fabs around the world and produce the same results, providing clients with multiple suppliers for their product designs."

According to Suresh Venkatesan, vice president of alliance technology development at GlobalFoundries, the announcement is "further proof of the importance of collaboration to enabling advanced technology foundry innovation."

The Common Platform alliance has been collaborating with ARM and Synopsys on the development of a comprehensive 32/28nm Systems-on-a-Chip (SoCs) design platform based on HKMG technology.

"The early parallel 32nm development work between ARM and the Common Platform alliance leverages our respective industry-leading expertise in processor IP, physical IP and technology development," said Simon Segars, executive vice president and general manager, ARM, Physical IP division. "This collaboration coupled with the fab synch announced today will facilitate design scaling and accelerate the market availability of next generation mobile devices with unmatched performance, outstanding battery life and reduced cost."