Soitec Outlines Fully Depleted Product Roadmap for Advanced Planar and Three-Dimensional Transistors

April 16, 2012

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Soitec Outlines Fully Depleted Product Roadmap for Advanced Planar and Three-Dimensional Transistors

Product offer designed to enable continued advances in performance and efficiency of mainstream mobile consumer devices

BERNIN, France and PEABODY, Massachusetts, April 16, 2012/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --

    Soitec (Euronext), a world leader in generating and manufacturing revolutionary
semiconductor materials for the electronics and energy industries, announced today its
fully depleted (FD) product roadmap comprising two products designed for both planar and
three-dimensional (FinFET) approaches to building transistors. Available now, FD wafers
from Soitec, pre-integrate critical characteristics of the transistor within the wafer
structure itself. Soitec's FD wafers offer an early, low-risk migration at the 28nm node
down to 10nm and beyond, lowering costs and enabling significant advances in the
performance and power efficiency of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Soitec
also announced research and other activities dedicated to further boosting transistor
performance, both silicon-based and with new materials.

    Soitec's product lines support the industry's FD International Technology Roadmap for
Semiconductors (ITRS), speeding time-to-market and lowering chipmakers' overall
manufacturing costs.

    Soitec's FD-2D product line enables a unique planar approach to fully depleted silicon
technology as early as the 28nm node, in which chipmakers can continue to leverage their
existing designs and process technologies. FD-2D also enables immediate gains in
performance and energy efficiency for mobile and consumer multimedia chips. The company's
FD-3D product line facilitates the introduction of three-dimensional (FinFET)
architectures with reduced time and investment, and drives substantial simplifications in
the transistor fabrication process, targeting nodes below 20nm.

    "Our fully depleted product roadmap addresses the critical needs of the semiconductor
industry and solves key challenges facing manufacturers today. Whichever path chip vendors
choose to follow - planar or FinFET - Soitec provides solutions that address cost,
performance, power-efficiency and time-to-market issues," said Paul Boudre, chief
operating officer of Soitec. "FD-2D enables immediate and significant performance leaps,
while FD-3D makes FinFET a reality for the entire industry at accelerated schedules and
reduced risk."

    Soitec's proprietary Smart Cut(TM) layer transfer technology is leveraged to generate
thin layers with high quality and uniformity, bringing the ability to tune starting wafers
to successive technology nodes and delivering key advantages as chip manufacturers pursue
the best performance, efficiency and manufacturability results. By predefining critical
characteristics of the transistor, these wafers enable efficient implementation and
manufacturing. Specifically, they feature a high-quality top silicon layer over a buried
isolation layer - these two layers are carefully optimized to predefine the geometry and
electrical isolation of transistors, enabling suppression of process steps and
simplification of the CMOS fabrication process, opening new usage opportunities and
providing a lower-cost solution.

    The FD-2D Product Line - Next-Generation Power Efficiency and Performance, Now

    The top silicon layer of Soitec's FD-2D wafers is ultra-thin and ultra-uniform, making
it possible to achieve planar fully depleted transistors with a silicon thickness that may
be as low as 5nm under the gate. Between this top layer and the underlying silicon base is
an ultra-thin layer of buried oxide (BOX), initially at 25nm thick. Future generations can
leverage even thinner BOX layers down, to 10nm thick, providing a path for planar
transistor scalability down to 14nm for mobile devices. Silicon thickness uniformity in
volume production of planar fully depleted technology is critical for best results.
Soitec's FD-2D wafers have a top silicon thickness that is controlled to within just a few
atomic layers. Leveraging the inherent accuracy of Soitec's Smart Cutprocess, silicon
uniformity across a full 300mm-diameter wafer can be as good as 3.2 Angstroms - that's
approximately equivalent to controlling the thickness of a surface to within 1mm over a
range of 1,000km, or 0.07 inches over a range of 1,000 miles.

    Planar FD transistors are built flat on the silicon, as has been the case for decades.
This offers a smooth path to fully depleted technology with the first sample ICs expected
at the end of 2012. The planar approach lets designers keep the same methodologies and
design tools used in conventional planar technology with a straightforward path for design
and IP porting. Manufacturers use the same fab tools and production lines, and extremely
similar process steps. At 28nm, compared to conventional technology, the energy
consumption of chips can be reduced by up to 40 percent, and the maximum operating
frequency of the processors these chips embed can be improved by 40 percent or more with
design optimizations. In particular, the technique known as back-biasing is extremely well
suited to the planar FD architecture, thus offering designers additional means to further
enhance the performance and power advantages. In addition, exceptional performance is
maintained at very low power supply (sub-0.7V), enabling ultra-low-power operation in many
use cases. The FD-2D wafer delivers all the power and performance benefits while enabling
lower costs at the chip level for high volume mobile applications.

    The FD-3D Product Line - Simplified FinFET Manufacturing

    The top layer of Soitec's FD-3D wafers is a thin layer of silicon over a buried oxide
layer with a thickness defined according to customers' needs. The silicon top layer
predefines the fin height and the BOX layer provides built-in intrinsic isolation.
Compared to using conventional bulk silicon starting wafers, FD-3D results in fewer
challenging steps in the FinFET fabrication process, driving lower capital expenditures
and operating expenses, higher production throughput and, ultimately, lower cost. In
addition, these benefits translate to shorter process development learning cycles, fewer
industrialization challenges and faster time to market for FinFET technology into the
mainstream foundry market. Experts estimate FD-3D substrates offer a potential gain of as
much as one year with respect to the trajectory possible using conventional bulk silicon
substrates. The benefits of predefining fin height and isolation at the substrate level
translate to better manufacturability and less process variability, leading to better
overall performance at the chip level.

    Looking Further into the Roadmap

    Soitec also is working actively to research new ways to further boost transistor
performance, both silicon-based and with new materials. To continue pushing the
performance of silicon CMOS, Soitec will add "strained silicon" to both its FD-2D and
FD-3D product lines, with pre-production expected no later than 2014. With this solution,
the crystalline structure of the silicon layer, in which transistors will subsequently be
built, is modified by Soitec during fabrication of the starting wafers. This results in
significantly improved electron mobility and higher maximum operating frequency for the
transistors and circuits.

    Looking further, several new CMOS technology options are being researched in the
semiconductor industry for introduction beyond the 14nm node. The main candidates include
incorporation of high-mobility materials such as germanium or III-V materials, as well as
new transistor architectures such as nano-wires. Soitec is actively engaged in different
R&D programs and has a number of joint development programs with partners to enhance its
product lines and propose the best products to meet the needs of the industry.

    Finally, Soitec is also anticipating the transition from 300mm to 450mm wafers through
in-house and collaborative R&D programs to support the industry roadmap. Both the FD-2D
and FD-3D offerings are fully scalable to 450mm.

    About Soitec

    Soitec is an international manufacturing company, a world leader in generating and
manufacturing revolutionary semiconductor materials at the frontier of the most exciting
energy and electronic challenges. Soitec's products include substrates for
microelectronics (most notably SOI: Silicon-on-Insulator) and concentrator photovoltaic
systems (CPV). The company's core technologies are Smart Cut(TM), Smart Stacking(TM) and
Concentrix(TM), as well as expertise in epitaxy. Applications include consumer and mobile
electronics, microelectronics-driven IT, telecommunications, automotive electronics,
lighting products and large-scale solar power plants. Soitec has manufacturing plants and
R&D centers in France, Singapore, Germany, and the United States. For more information,

    International Media Contact
    Camille Darnaud-Dufour
    (any time zone)

    Investor Relations
    Olivier Brice

    U.S. Media Contact
    Leslie Clavin
    Racepoint Group

Source: Soitec


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