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Mar 26, 2012

The Battle for 14nm Manufacturing Begins

The first publicity blow of showing a series 14nm silicon wafer belonged to IBM this year. SemiAccurate’s Charlie is reporting that, in the second week of March, the company has showed one of their first 14nm silicon wafers containing IC dies. 

The piece is certainly a test wafer and the chips on it have not been identified, but IBM has something to show for while Intel’s FinFETs are still a while away from manufacturing.

The VP of IBM’s Semiconductor Research & Development Center, Gary Patton said, at the Common Platform Technology Forum two weeks ago, that the company would use SOI technology for all of its 14nm products, including its own server products as well as for their Fab clients.

Samsung also showed a 14nm wafer last week. Unlike IBM’s new tech, Samsung’s is High-k FinFET based just like Intel’s will be.

The Korean giant has also shown a 20nm wafer, a whole year after IBM first came up with such a technology. It’s not FinFET but it is here now.

Intel promises it will start making 14nm chips in 2013 but, as expected, they won’t have anything to do with any x86 design as more fine tuning is needed working on simpler designs before moving a huge 3 billion transistor design on a new manufacturing process.

Intel’s first tape out might be a 4G LTE design that should ensure a low power envelope for a future smartphone chip that might go along with an x86 design to help make x86 a worthy competitor with its ARM counterparts.

Next to the table will probably be Toshiba, with a new process miniaturization for new flash cells, but there’s no word on that yet.


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