Three-dimensional transistors are coming!
Okay, so maybe they're already here. You can already find 'em inside every Ivy Bridge processor on the market today. Independent foundries are catching up to Intel, though. Earlier this morning, GlobalFoundries announed that it's "accelerated its leading-edge roadmap" with the introduction of a 14-nm FinFET fab process for mobile devices.
The process is dubbed 14nm-XM, short for 14-nm eXtreme Mobility, and it's "based on a modular technology architecture that uses a 14nm FinFET device combined with elements of GLOBALFOUNDRIES' 20nm-LPM process." (FinFET is just another word for three-dimensional transistors. The term describes field-effect transistors with a three-dimensional, fin-like conducting channel.) According to GlobalFoundries, the 14nm-XM process can improve device battery life by 40-60% compared to GloFo's existing 20-nm process with planar transistors.
GlobalFoundries goes on to note that 14nm-XM test silicon is already "running through" its Fab 8 facility in upstate New York. The firm expects the first tape-outs from customers (that is, customers sending in their final chip designs for manufacture) some time next year.
As we reported last month, GlobalFoundries has inked a partnership with ARM to speed up the migration of mobile processors to FinFET technology. GlobalFoundries says the FinFET design "intrinsically operates at a lower voltage with minimal current leakage, which translates into longer battery life for mobile applications." Of course, GlobalFoundries doesn't just cater to ARM SoC vendors—it also manufactures all of AMD's A- and FX-series processors.
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