2008: ARM Lays the SOI Foundation

This fall, ARM will be rolling out key physical IP libraries, opening the door to broad SOI adoption.

As the leading processor IP company, ARM is collaborating with industry partners to facilitate the adoption of SOI CMOS technology. ARM’s optimized SOI Physical IP libraries target development of high-speed and low dynamicpower SoC designs in 45nm SOI.

Promising benchmarks

By combining the ARM libraries with the inherent advantages of the SOI CMOS technology, chip designers can obtain up to 30% speed improvement over their traditional bulk CMOS processes.

The benchmarks comparing bulk CMOS and SOI CMOS technology are also showing an average of 40% power reduction at the same speed. The power savings are enabled by the fact that when you design for a given speed, your synthesis tool will pick a smaller cell in SOI to perform the same speed as in bulk.

Case studies

One case study concluded that a 9-track standard cell library in SOI could perform as fast as a 12-track library in an equivalent bulk CMOS technology. In this case, the surface of each individual cell was reduced by 25%, and both the leakage and the dynamic power of the circuit were also reduced.

Note that after routing, the 25% of area reduction at the cell level doesn’t translate into 25% reduction of die size, but in most cases a die reduction of 5-15% should be achievable.

New horizons

ARM Physical IP Solution

There are two main barriers of SOI adoption today: foundry adoption and IP availability. ARM Physical IP SolutionThere are two main barriers of SOI adoption today: foundry adoption and IP availability. ARM is working with select partners from the company’s massive ecosystem to facilitate the deployment of SOI CMOS technology for a broad range of applications. Initial efforts focus on enabling SOI to become mainstream for ASICs and ASSPs and to reduce the barriers to adoption cited above.

Because SOI CMOS technology offers alternative speed, power and area optimization to bulk CMOS for SoC design, SOI technology has already been adopted for high-end CPUs, servers and gaming platforms.

The second wave of adoption is already underway in networking applications, with storage and digital consumer markets showing indications of adoption in the near future.

ARM-optimized Physical IP libraries are on track for release in the coming months.
For additional information, please contact remy.pottier@arm.com.

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