Some years back, European research giant CEA-Leti made a major commitment to support FD-SOI, partnering with STMicroelectronics, Soitec and IBM. Now, with the big FD-SOI foundry announcement by Samsung and STMicroelectronics, Leti’s ready to bring its vast expertise to players throughout the value chain, right up through design integration.
To learn more about the range Leti covers, you may also want to check out the “Leti Day” conferences around the world, where they showcase their technology. The next one is in Grenoble (24-26 June, registration site here), followed by an invitation-only event during Semicon West (info here), as well as events in Paris and Tokyo.
ASN recently caught up again with Laurent Malier, CEO of CEA-Leti to get his take on the ST-Samsung news. (A few months ago, we did an in-depth interview with Malier on the massive role Leti plays in the FD-SOI ecosystem — click here to read it if you missed it then).
Here are some excerpts from our conversation.
Advanced Substrate News (ASN): What does the Samsung-ST announcement mean for Leti?
Laurent Malier (LM): It means the success of our strategy. For years, we’ve been heavily investing in FD-SOI technology, committing critical scientific and technological support at each phase of FD-SOI development. We were very confident that it was the best option for balancing performance, energy efficiency and cost. In terms of technology and performance, that was very clearly demonstrated last year at CES and in Barcelona. In addition to performance you need to go into manufacturing, secure the ramp-up, secure the costs, and secure the full ecosystem. We worked very hard on all these things over the last year and a half. But the last brick was missing: securing a foundry for the second source and enlarging access to the technology. Now we have it: the ST-Samsung announcement gives us the opportunity to showcase our work and our methodology
ASN: In which areas did Leti contribute to FD-SOI development?
LM: Leti really took a global approach in the development of FD-SOI. Of course, the SOI substrate is based on a Leti invention. Device research was done by Leti teams with our ecosystem of partners at three different sites, first in Grenoble, and later at Crolles [ST] and Albany [IBM]. We were also active in the modeling (UTSOI models implemented in all EDA tools were developed by Leti) and design kit development, so that a complete design kit was available for designers. We had designers who worked for several years in order to prove the results at the circuit level. And we have several customers for whom we’re deploying the technology in their applications. So from raw material to architecture and application design, we have a global footprint.
Because FD-SOI is an enabling technology, we need to do more than support the “push” – we also need to support the “pull” in exploring applications that will benefit from this technology. This is something else we do. Leti is not only a silicon technology institute but also is focused on applications. Half of our activity looks at application opportunities – especially for telecom, IoT, healthcare, automotives and power management.
ASN: Do you see opportunities for FD-SOI in IoT?
LM: For me, the first wave of IoT will be in machine-to-machine [M2M] and process monitoring, so that’s synergistic with sensors. Because your objects are connected, you’ll greatly expand your ability to explore data. You’ll need more efficient local data processing and more efficient data transmission – so these are places for FD-SOI circuits. For companies that are interested in any part of the value chain – design, sensor integration and so forth – these are areas where we are leaders and can provide expertise. Look for more announcements coming up at Leti Days.