|A very successful international workshop on RF-SOI was held in Shanghai earlier this fall. Jointly organized by industry leaders, it brought together world-class players in RF to discuss the opportunities and challenges in rapid development of RF applications.Sponsors included the SOI Industry Consortium, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) / Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology (SIMIT), Shanghai Industrial μTechnology Research Institute Co.,Ltd. (SITRI) and VeriSilicon.
The first talk, given by Dr. Xi Wang, Academician of CAS and Director General of SIMIT, covered China’s huge market prospects for RF applications. RF-SOI, he noted, is an area in which Shanghai Simgui Technology Co.,Ltd. , a spin-off company from SIMIT, and French SOI wafer manufacturer Soitec are working closely to explore the market opportunities now. He also presented some of the latest research findings and the industry dynamics in this field.
Next, Handel Jones, CEO of IBS, gave a detailed analysis of the markets for smart phones and tablet PCs and other mobile consumer applications. These are strong drivers of the huge market opportunity and demand for chips based on RF-SOI technology. (Click here to view his presentation.)
This workshop also featured presentations by ST, GlobalFoundries and SMIC, as well as several important RF-SOI platform providers.
Mark Ireland, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at the IBM Microelectronics Division, noted that that IBM first began offering RF-SOI manufacturing in 2006. He explained the key role RF-SOI plays in redefining chips for mobile applications, where integration and performance are key. (Click here to view his presentation.)
Laura Formenti, Infrastructure and RF-SOI Business Unit Director at STMicroelectronics, gave a detailed analysis of RF-SOI. She covered the advantages of RF front-end integration and introduced ST’s H9SOI_FEM technology platform. (Click here to view her presentation.)
Paul Colestock, Sr. Director of Segment Marketing at GlobalFoundries shared specifics and the latest developments in the 130nm RF-SOI technology platform, UltraCMOS 10.
Herb Huang, Sr. Director Development, Technology R&D at SMIC, China’s largest foundry, addressed SOI in RF switches. He shared details on SOI NFETs for enhanced performance, and on CMOS MEMS RF filters. SOI CMOS will facilitate integration of switches (SW), power amplifiers (PA), envelope tracking (ET) and antenna tuning (AT) in SoCs. The foundry provides not only device-level processes but also support for high-performance system-in-package (SiP) solutions at the wafer level.
Professor Jean-Pierre Raskin of the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) and Bernard Aspar, General Manager of Soitec’s Communication & Power Business Unit presented detailed technical analyses of SOI substrates. They covered the influence of substrates on RF signal integrity and the key role they play in improving RF performance thanks to the enhanced Signal Integrity (eSI™) High Resistivity SOI substrate. (Click here to view the UCL presentation, and here to view the Soitec presentation.)
James Young, VP of Engineering, FES Si Platform Engineering at Skyworks focused on RF and wireless semiconductor design. In particular he addressed mobile phone design, including PA, ET and APT (Average Power Tracking). He gave performance comparisons and analysis for SOI/CMOS vs. GaAs devices. (Click here to view the presentation.)
Dr. Yumin Lu, VP of the Shanghai Industrial μTechnology Research Institute Co.,Ltd. elaborated on how 4G wireless communications brings new challenges for RF front-end modules and components. RF-SOI has become a mainstream technology for antenna/switches. There is also significant potential for RF-SOI to make further inroads in applications such as tunable components (including antennas, PAs, filters/duplexers, etc.). (Click here to view the presentation.)
The final panel discussion session on the “China RF market” started a lively debate. Topics included the specificities and drivers of the China RF market, Chinese foundry capacity, the RF-SOI supply chain, RF front-end module (FEM) system packaging and system integration trends, and LTE and WiFi common platforms on RF-SOI substrates. Audience members had questions about device design. The need for the industry to establish a broader ecosystem was a common theme.
~ ~ ~
Editor’s note: This article was first posted in Chinese at Shanghai Institute of Micro-Technology Industry Views. You can see the original here. Many thanks to Xi Wang, Academician and Director General of the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology (SIMIT) /Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) for his permission to translate/adapt and reprint it here in ASN.