The bullet-train called GlobalFoundries is accelerating. During the VLSI 2009 conference in Japan, engineers from GlobalFoundries detailed their innovative approach to the adoption of High-K Metal Gate [HKMG] transistors, obviously targeting mobile devices.

In order to adopt the technology, GlobalFoundries worked in partnership inside IBM’s Technology Alliance and the results are such that GF and other IBM Technology Alliance partners will use this technology for their products in 32nm, 28nm, 22nm and beyond.

High-K Metal Gate Transistor approach by GlobalFoundries - according to engineers, should be good for 32nm, 28nm, 22nm and beyond.
High-K Metal Gate Transistor approach by GlobalFoundries – according to engineers, should be good for 32nm, 28nm, 22nm and beyond.

The technique allows scaling down of equivalent oxide thickness [EOT] of the HKMG transistor in order to scale the transistor down below 22nm node.  In order to keep the switching precision of a High-K transistor, IBM East Fishkill/GlobalFoundries East Fishkill/GlobalFoundries Dresden developed a new approach to EOT, demonstrating the new EOT scaling with the test samples, featuring an n-MOSFET device with EOT of just 0.55nm and a p-MOSFET with EOT of 0.7nm.

In a lively discussion with Jon Carvill and Jason Gorrss, we discussed the differences between the approach taken by GlobalFoundries, Intel [using Hafnium for both 45nm and 32nm processes] and Samsung. Intel demonstrated working 32nm processor back on IDF Fall 2008, while Samsung announced their 32nm HKMG back on April 15, 2009. However, neither Intel nor Samsung shipped a single 32nm chip and they aren’t planning to launch the products before the fall. Jon did his best to assure us that GlobalFoundries will be second only to Intel with the 32nm HKMG process, with products scheduled in the first half of 2010, around a quarter after Intel introduces its Arrandale/Clarkdale dual-core die and sexa-core Westmere – Intel’s very first 32nm HKMG chips. GlobalFoundries will most probably follow with either AMD Magny-Cours or ATI’s second-gen DirectX 11 graphics chips. There might even be a surprise customer, but for now – we’re in the dark.

Still, this was an impressive display of technology from GlobalFoundries. Free from AMD’s reign, these guys’n’girls are now pushing very hard. With 65nm and 45nm, AMD was around a year behind Intel. With 32nm, the difference should shrink to only three to four months, an impressive feat indeed. Guys didn’t want to discuss the differences between Intel’s and approach taken by GlobalFoundries, but according to GlobalFoundries, this approach should be more flexible for processes to come.

GlobalFoundries’s 32nm High-K Metal Gate is in development for both Silicon-On-Insulator and conventional bulk silicon wafers, making these guys the only in the world to offer both SOI and bulk silicon in 32nm HKMG.The foundry business is heating up, that’s for sure.