April 2015 marks the 10-year anniversary of the first ever issue of Advanced Substrate News, aka ASN, covering news and views from the SOI ecosystem.
Wow, were we precient.
Consider some of the topics we covered in that first edition, back in April of 2005:
FinFET on SOI (that was at 45nm)
NXP (then Philips) massive use of SOI for automotive chips (they were already running 3 million SOI-based transceivers a week back then)
a piece on low-power design with SOI by Jean-Luc Pelloie, who’s now an ARM Fellow and the company’s Director of SOI Technology
Intel had just published their first photonics on SOI papers in Nature (and yes, their photonics program is absolutely still on SOI)
ASN was recently invited to give a talk about SOI-based applications at the Shanghai Academy of Sciences (SIMIT). Putting together a presentation of SOI-based apps from the last decade turned out to be a lot of fun – and a real eye opener.
The presentation is now posted on SlideShare (click here to see it).
It reminded me that we have a veritable treasure trove of information here, both current and historical. We count contributions from virtually every major player in the industry.
If you haven’t done so recently, I’d like to invite you to explore the ASN website. With a decade’s worth of articles, that might seem a little daunting. But on the right, you’ll see our list of Tags – if you click on “All Tags” you’ll get an alphabetical listing of every topic you could think of.
We’ve come a really long way in this decade. When Oki did their FD-SOI chip for Casio in 2005, they did it on a regular SOI wafer, and it was a breakthrough. Then the announcement by Soitec in 2010 that the company had entered industrial production of the ultra-thin SOI wafers needed for high-volume FD-SOI apps opened up a whole new horizon. (Remember that until that point, nobody believed it would be possible to produce SOI wafers with the requisite top silicon uniformity of +/- 5 Angstroms.)
Now that the ecosystem’s in place, solving the low-power/high-performance challenges of IoT cost effectively, we’re all anxiously awaiting the end of this year for announcements of those high-volume FD-SOI apps.
Consider where we are today. ST says they have 18 FD-SOI design wins as of January 2015. Synapse Design has worked on 7 projects and sees more coming in. Verisilicon has some in the pipeline. GlobalFoundries has indicated they have customers lined up. And of course with the big news last year that Samsung is offering FD-SOI on a foundry basis, they are firmly behind it. Foundries mean business. If they’re offering it, it’s because they have customers.
And then there’s the RF-SOI – what an immense success. Partners Soitec and UCL had been quietly working for years on an innovative eSI substrate solution that would solve the challenges of 4G and 5G. Then suddenly it was in every new smartphone out there, and the next-gen wafer can actually predict 5G performance.
In other SOI strongholds, things are looking very good, too. Currently there are about 800 chips per vehicle – that number is on track to reach 1000 by 2020. In smart power, SOI wafers made using Soitec’s Smart Cut technology are seeing 20% CAGR, compared to 7% for the rest of the industry.
So if you want to share our crystal ball, keep reading ASN. Join our mailing list, follow us on Twitter @followASN, join our Advanced Substrate News LinkedIn group, and look for us we gear up as AllThingsSOI on WeChat.
The beginning of 2015 has been outstanding. We’ve seen double even triple the hits to the ASN website in recent months, so people are clearly looking to learn more about SOI.
I’d like to take a moment to thank the folks at SOI-wafer leader Soitec. They have sponsored ASN since day one. And thank you, too, to all the members of the SOI Consortium, who’ve given generously of their time with unflinching support and keen insights.
In the decade since ASN’s creation, we’ve seen an ecosystem blossom. Here’s to the next decade, and the new era of high-volume, low-power, high-performance SOI-based chips.
With warm regards,