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TowerJazz Ramps 300mm 65nm RF-SOI, extends long-term partnership with Soitec

Specialty foundry TowerJazz is ramping a 65nm version of its RF-SOI process on 300mm wafers at Fab 7 in Uozu, Japan. To support the ramp, the company has signed a contract with long-term partner, Soitec, guaranteeing a supply of tens of thousands of 300mm SOI silicon wafers, securing wafer prices for the next years and ensuring supply to its customers, despite a tight SOI wafer market.

The 300mm 65nm RF-SOI process will be offered at the Uozu, Japan fab, which is operated by the TowerJazz Panasonic Semiconductor Company (TPSCo). (Photo courtesy: TowerJazz)

Five of TJ’s seven fabs do RF-SOI. LNA (low-noise amplifers) are a big market driver, and with RF-SOI they can integrate the LNA with the switch, CEO Russell Ellwanter said in his lead keynote at the SOI Consortium’s 5th International RF-SOI Workshop in Shanghai (spring, 2018). BTW, that was in fact a very inspirational talk about Value Creation, and the importance of treating your suppliers with respect. He credited his company’s close relationship with RF-SOI wafer-supplier Soitec for TJ’s claim to the world’s best linearity.

“We are delighted to see the strong adoption of 300mm RF SOI through this large capacity and supply agreement with TowerJazz to augment our already significant 200mm RF-SOI partnership,” said Soitec CEO Paul Boudre. “TowerJazz was the first foundry to ramp our RFeSI products to high volume production in 200mm and continues as one of the industry leaders in innovation in this exciting RF market with advanced and differentiated offerings.”

According to the TJ press release (you can read it here), with its best in class metrics the TowerJazz 65nm RF-SOI process enables the combination of low insertion loss and high power handling RF switches with options for high-performance low-noise amplifiers as well as digital integration. The process can reduce losses in an RF switch improving battery life and boosting data rates in handsets and IoT terminals.

It’s a high-growth market, to be sure. Market researchers Mobile Experts predict that the mobile RF front-end market will reach $22 billion in 2022 from an estimated $16 billion in 2018. TowerJazz says its breakthrough RF SOI technology continues to support this high-growth market and is well-poised to take advantage of next-generation 5G standards, which will boost data rates and provide further content growth opportunities in the coming years.

Customers are already getting into position. For example, Maxscend (WuXi, China), a provider of RF components and IoT integrated circuits, is ramping in this new technology. “We chose TowerJazz for its advanced technology capabilities and its ability to deliver in high volume while continuously innovating with a strong roadmap. We specifically selected its 300mm 65nm RF SOI platform for our next-generation product line due to its superior performance, enabling low insertion loss and high power handling,” said Maxscend CEO Zhihan Xu.

As longtime ASN readers will know, we’ve been covering the evolutions of TJ’s RF-SOI platforms since the beginning of the decade. It’s worth noting, too, that beyond RF, TowerJazz also offers foundry customers other SOI-based processes, such as the new 0.18μm BCD SOI, a 200V SOI technology platform (announced in 2017, press release here) for motor drivers, industrial tools, electric vehicles and more. The previous generation 0.18μm SOI for automotive power management also offers exceptional area savings and is well-suited for high temperature operation. Back in 2014, here at ASN we did a great interview with TJ SVP Dr. Marco Racanelli about when and why they use SOI – and while processes have advanced, the basic drivers are still there, so it’s a still a good read.

And finally, designers will want to know that the TJ Multi-Project Wafer (MPW) Shuttle Program offers the 65nm RF-SOI process, as well as other SOI-based processes. See the website for scheduling and details.

TowerJazz Cites Strong RF-SOI Growth as Driving force in TX Fab Acquisition

TowerJazz-Maxim-Fab

Citing strong RF-SOI demand, TowerJazz has signed an agreement to purchase Maxim’s 8-inch fab in San Antonio, Texas (shown here).

With the acquisition of Maxim’s 8-inch fab in San Antonio, Texas, TowerJazz plans to quickly qualify its core specialty technologies, including its advanced Radio-Frequency Silicon-on-Insulator (RF-SOI) offering, to serve the substantial growth in demand from its customers. (See press release here.)

The proposed purchase will expand TowerJazz’s current worldwide manufacturing capacity, cost-effectively increasing production by approximately 28,000 wafers per month. The availability of additional capacity is expected to be needed to serve TowerJazz’s current and forecasted robust customer demand. TowerJazz and Maxim expect to close the transaction in January 2016, subject to customary closing conditions.

TowerJazz and TowerJazz Panasonic Semi Co sampling best-in-class sub-90fs Ron-Coff RF-SOI on 300mm wafers for Next-Gen 4G LTE and IoT Apps

TowerJazz-TPSCo-300mm-RF-SOIGlobal specialty foundry TowerJazz and TowerJazz Panasonic Semiconductor Co. (TPSCo), the leading analog foundry in Japan, have announced breakthrough RF-SOI technology for next-generation 4G LTE smartphones and IoT devices. Through a collaborative effort, TowerJazz and its majority owned subsidiary, TPSCo, have developed a new 300mm RF-SOI process that can reduce losses in an RF switch by as much as 30% relative to current technology, improving battery life and boosting data rates. The technology achieves a record Ron-Coff figure of merit of sub-90fs and is now being sampled to a lead customer. (Read the press release here.)

TowerJazz — Interview With SVP Marco Racanelli: What’s Driving Strong SOI-Based Design Wins?

Dr. Marco Racanelli, TowerJazz Senior Vice President & General Manager, RF & High Performance Analog Business Group and Aerospace & Defense Group

Dr. Marco Racanelli, TowerJazz Senior Vice President & General Manager, RF & High Performance Analog Business Group and Aerospace & Defense Group

 

 

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ASN recently spoke with TowerJazz SVP Marco Racanelli about when the specialty foundry leverages SOI – and why.

Advanced Substrate News (ASN): Can you tell us briefly about TowerJazz’s overall vision and position in the market? 

Marco Racanelli (MR):  TowerJazz is the foundry leader for the manufacture of specialty semiconductor devices.  By “specialty” semiconductor devices, we mean those that require technology with some degree of specialization beyond commodity CMOS, for example in applications such as analog, RF, power, CMOS Image Sensor, and MEMS.  We invest in specialty process technology and manufacturing capacity around the world to fuel our growth (today we have manufacturing facilities in the US, Israel and Japan).

The TowerJazz fab in Newport Beach, CA.

The TowerJazz fab in Newport Beach, CA.

ASN: What kinds of chips does TowerJazz propose customers put on SOI? Why? 

MR: SOI on high resistivity substrates provides excellent RF isolation for customers working on front-end modules (FEMs) for wireless communication products.  Specifically for RF switches, thin device silicon layers result in low junction capacitance which is favorable for achieving high isolation.  We have had some customers leverage our SiGe BiCMOS technologies on SOI to integrate improved RF switching capabilities and achieve better isolation among circuit blocks.  Finally, some TowerJazz customers use thick film SOI for MEMS.  The silicon layer in SOI is used to fabricate beams for electro-mechanical structures and devices, e.g. MEMS resonators.

ASN: What are the growth drivers (end-markets, trends) for your SOI-based services? 

MR: Each generation of smart phones has required increasing numbers of RF ports to support multiple standards and functions e.g. 3G, 4G, 802.11, diversity antenna.  The need for longer handset battery life is driving implementation of RF-SOI based antenna tuner products to improve antenna efficiency.

 

Click to enlarge. (Courtesy: Techinsights’ Teardown.com and IEEE S3S Conference)

Click image to enlarge. (Courtesy: Techinsights’ Teardown.com and IEEE S3S Conference)

ASN: What are the advantages in moving to SOI-based technologies? 

MR: In some markets such as FEMs, the performance advantages of SOI are required to enable these RF products in CMOS; bulk technologies simply can’t provide the required isolation and low capacitance to meet the most demanding 4G/LTE specifications.  Thicker film SOI can support SiGe bipolar devices with significantly lower collector-to-substrate capacitance than their bulk counterparts.  In high voltage products, SOI dielectric isolation can simplify the design process, reduce latch-up risk, and allow a much more compact design than junction-isolated technologies.

Inside the TowerJazz Newport Beach Facility (Fab 3)

Inside the TowerJazz Newport Beach Facility (Fab 3)

ASN: Are there particular regions where you see especially high growth for SOI-based offerings? 

MR: We see broad adoption of SOI in all major phone platforms.  Our strongest growth and largest market for SOI is in the US although we see some Asia customers as well. The end customers are more evenly distributed between the US and Asia primarily.

ASN: Last year, you announced your RF-SOI had the industry’s best figure of merit for antenna switch and antenna tuning applications. What are you seeing there in terms of design wins? 

MR: We are seeing very strong design wins and production ramp of SOI in our factories.

 

American Semiconductor's  FleX-MCU™ product family leverages an SOI starting wafer.  (Courtesy: American Semiconductor)

American Semiconductor’s FleX-MCU™ product family leverages an SOI starting wafer.
(Courtesy: American Semiconductor)

ASN: American Semi partnered with TowerJazz on flexible ICs, which leverage SOI.  What sort of applications is that technology going into?  

MR: The potential for flexible ICs is very broad. For Aerospace and Defense, key areas of interest are ‘wearable’ circuits, introducing ICs and systems into soldiers’ field clothes and gear, creating a radar system that conforms to the entire body of an aircraft, sea vehicle, or any UAV or drone.  The ideas can be countless – the path is to reduce or eliminate the rigid form and fit of mobile electronics and integrate these electronics into a lighter weight, smaller and more flexible material.

ASN: Cavendish Kinetics announced that they’d be collaborating with you on RF-MEMS for mobile, which could be on SOI.  Is that available, and if so, can you tell us about it?

MR: We continue to work with Cavendish and have announced impressive reliability results with their devices; these are available through Cavendish directly.

ASN: Can you tell us more about the forthcoming 0.18 TS18SOI integrated power platform? 

MR: This platform is targeting a number of applications, the dominant one being in automotive and will include high-voltage devices, 0.18um CMOS for integration of digital and power management functions along with non-volatile-memory.  SOI in this case helps isolate the devices from the substrate allowing flexibility in applying voltages without turning on junctions that can lead to leakage or latch-up and in some cases helps reduce die-size by improving isolation allowing devices to be closer together.

ASN: Looking down the road, where/how do SOI-based technologies fit into your outlook for the future?  

MR: SOI particularly for RF is a significant focus for TowerJazz and we continue to invest in new technology and propagating the technology we have to multiple factories to increase capacity available to our customers.  While RF dominates our SOI consumption, we also see a good future for SOI in power management and MEMS and other sensor applications.

 

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TowerJazz will be presenting its SOI and other processes at its upcoming Technical Global Symposiums (TGS) taking place in Europe (18 September 2014), the US (19 November 14) and Japan (10 December 2014). To find out more and register for TGS, please visit: http://www.towerjazz.com/tgs/

 

 

 

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Dr. Marco Racanelli has served as TowerJazz Senior Vice President & General Manager, RF & High Performance Analog Business Group and Aerospace & Defense Group since September 2008. Previously, he served as Vice President of Technology & Engineering, Aerospace & Defense General Manager for Jazz Semiconductor.

 Prior to Jazz, Dr. Racanelli held several positions at Conexant Systems and Rockwell Semiconductor since 1996 in the area of technology development where he helped establish industry leadership in SiGe and BiCMOS and MEMS technology, and built a strong design support organization. Prior to Rockwell, Dr. Racanelli worked at Motorola, Inc., where he contributed to bipolar, SiGe and SOI development for its Semiconductor Products Sector.

 Dr. Racanelli received a Ph.D. and a M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University. He holds over 35 U.S. patents.

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TowerJazz Releases Enhanced RF-SOI CMOS Process Design Kit for use with Agilent Technologies’ Advanced Design System Software

Specialty foundry TowerJazz announced the availability of an enhanced RF-SOI CMOS process design kit (PDK) for its 0.18µm process technology (see press release here). The kit was developed for use with Agilent Technologies’ Advanced Design System (ADS) software and targets a wide range of analog markets including front-end modules for mobile phones, tablets and WiFi terminals.

“…we are ramping a large number of SOI switch designs on our industry-leading SOI process,” noted TowerJazz CEO Russell Ellwanger in the company’s September ’13 newsletter.

“…we are ramping a large number of SOI switch designs on our industry-leading SOI process,”
noted TowerJazz CEO Russell Ellwanger in the company’s September ’13 newsletter. The SOI
switch designed in Netanya “…received impressive traction and is winning business for the RF/HPA
business unit,” adds Ori Galzur, Vice President of TowerJazz’s Worldwide VLSI Design Center. He
also notes that the design team has released STD cell libraries for their SOI platforms.

TowerJazz says its latest RF SOI technology offers the industry’s best figure of merit for antenna switch and antenna tuning applications

Specialty foundry TowerJazz says its latest RF SOI technology offers the industry’s best figure of merit for antenna switch and antenna tuning applications with Ron-Coff of only 217fs. The technology is driving FEM market share, quickly replacing GaAs implementations and has already been adopted by multiple customers worldwide with over 50 separate designs taped-in with initial designs ramping to production.  Customer Skyworks named TowerJazz its 2012 Foundry Supplier of the Year Award.

TowerJazz saw “a large amount of SOI design activity” in 2012

TowerjazzThe CEO of TowerJazz recently told analysts that in 2012, the company saw “a large amount of SOI design activity”, which he says will fuel revenue growth in 2013. Smart phone antenna switches that handle 8 to 14 different bands are moving from gallium arsenide to SOI, he explained.

New SOI-based process technology from TowerJazz for wireless antenna switches costs substantially less than GaAs pHEMPTs or SOS

New SOI-based process technology from TowerJazz for wireless antenna switches costs substantially less than GaAs pHEMPTs or SOS, and integrates control functions, low-noise amplifiers and power amplifiers on a single chip. For both high-end smart-phones and lower-end phones, the company says SOI can benefit most of the 1.4 billion handset units sold each year.

16 & 17 September 2019: China, Shanghai – FD-SOI Forum / RF-SOI Workshop

Both days will be held at the Pudong Shangri-La Hotel in Shanghai. For reservations please contact Claire.Zhao@verisilicon.com.

September 16, FD-SOI Forum

This 7th Shanghai FD-SOI Forum will focus on Automotive and IoT applications, products, and supply chain with AI/Edge Computing being discussed in conjunction with Automotive and IoT. There are keynote speeches by executives from Fabless and foundries. The theme of this year’s Forum is Deployment of FD-SOI, for which there are two sessions: AIoT using FD-SOI and automotive electronics using FD-SOI.

FD-SOI FORUM – REGISTRATION  & PROGRAM

(The Forum is on invitation only please send your registration inquiry to events@soiconsortium.org)


September 17, International RF-Workshop

The RF-SOI Workshop will be focused on 5G connectivity and its opportunity for SOI Industry. Keynote speaker will include 5G carrier, system provider and device maker. They will provide insight on the latest development on 5G deployment and RF-SOI readiness. In the afternoon session, there will be “China RF-SOI Ecosystem” and “RF Value Chain”. It will be focused on RF design and foundry platform for 5G RF-SOI application in China. Also worldwide SOI supply chain will be presented.

RF-SOI WORKSHOP – REGISTRATION & PROGRAM

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