IBM, GF switch to gate last at 20nm

By: David Kanter (dkanter.delete@this.realworldtech.com), January 18, 2011 11:48 am
Room: Moderated Discussions
At the Common Platform tech day, IBM and other Common Platform membres announced that they will be shifting approaches for their high-k/metal gate process technology. The Common Platform members (mostly GF and IBM) had maintained that gate first had density advantages which overshadow the defectivity and performance benefits of gate last.

This always rung a bit hollow to me and did not seem very plausible. The two highest volume logic manufacturers (TSMC and Intel) clearly opted for gate last, which is a pretty strong signal. There were also rumors of Samsung and others pressuring IBM to move to gate last...so the writing has been on the wall for some time.

So, while this announcement is news, it's hardly surprisingly in the least.

The implications for AMD and IBM seem to be somewhat positive. The 32nm ramp has not been going particularly well, and is further behind Intel than usual. There were whispers that this was at least in part due to the choice of a gate first process flow. In theory, removing the challenges associated with gate first should result in a faster and smoother ramp for IBM, GF, etc. and benefit AMD in terms of time to market for 20nm.

There are also additional upsides in terms of transistor performance. Intel was very clear that one of the big benefits of gate last was using two different metals for the NFETs and PFETs, which yielded better strain and higher performance. So there could also be a slight gain for the Common Platform in that regard.

This may come at the cost of density, but we'll have to wait for real numbers and products to see how everything pans out. Overall, this seems like a promising sign and good news for IBM, AMD and GF.

David
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TopicPosted ByDate
IBM, GF switch to gate last at 20nmDavid Kanter2011/01/18 11:48 AM
  IBM, GF switch to gate last at 20nmBrett2011/01/18 05:16 PM
    IBM, GF switch to gate last at 20nmDavid Kanter2011/01/18 05:24 PM
      IBM, GF switch to gate last at 20nmKeith Fiske2011/01/19 12:10 AM
        IBM, GF switch to gate last at 20nmKeith Fiske2011/01/19 12:10 AM
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