A new 20-nanometer-based computer chip for smartphones and consumer devices will be made starting later this year at the Fab 8 plant in Luther Forest, GlobalFoundries announced today.
The company said it has started installation of the costly manufacturing tools to create what are called Through-Silicon Vias.
The move is “a significant milestone on the road to enabling [three-dimensional] stacking of chips for next-generation mobile and consumer applications,” it said in a statement.
“This is very exciting for us,” said David McCann, senior director of packaging research and development.
The 20-nm circuits are on the cutting edge of how microscopically tiny semiconductor circuits can be made. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.
GlobalFoundries described TSVs as essentially vertical holes etched in silicon and filled with copper conductor. The technology could allow circuit designers to place stacks of memory chips on top of an application processor, increasing memory bandwidth and reducing power consumption, the Malpitas, Calif.-based company said in a statement.
The 3D stacking is increasingly being viewed as an alternative to traditional single-layer technology design, the company said.
“With the installation of TSV capabilities for 20nm technology in Fab 8, we are adding an important capability that will be supplemented by our joint development and manufacturing partnerships with companies across the semiconductor ecosystem, from design to assembly and test,” said Gregg Bartlett, GlobalFoundries’ chief technology officer.
The $4.6 billion Fab 8 plant is currently in the process of gearing up for commercial production. It currently has 1,300 employees and is expected to hire several hundred more by the end of the year.
Company officials describe it as the largest leading-edge semiconductor foundry in the United States. Foundries make computer chips custom-designed for a wide variety of customers.
Fab 8 is focused on manufacturing 32/28-nm chip technology, but smaller sizes like 20 nm have been expected to evolve through research.
The first chips with TSVs are expected to start running at Fab 8 by October, McCann said. That will allow products containing the chips to be on the market in 2014, he said.
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