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Modular Platform Methodology, a White Paper by GLOBALFOUNDRIES

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White paper abstract :

The leading edge processes and the biggest,newest fabs tend to get all the press. But this obscures the fact that a lot of designs are actually done in mainstream processes and in mature, high-yield fabs. Matching these designs to a process requires processes with special features, since this isan area of the semiconductor business where one size certainly does not fit all. Most of these designs involve more than digital logic, otherwise they would normally be run in a leading edge process). They require high voltage, accurate analog components and other devices that cannot be built using a basic digital process.

Historically, many of these specialized designs were run in custom processes put together especially for the design, but that approach is not really scalable. It is not even optimal for individual designs since the time to develop and qualify the process can be prohibitively long and expensive. A better approach is to create a base process and then build up optional modules on top of it that can be mixed and matched to create a process for each design as shown in Figure 1. By doing everything in a modular way, the process options can be pre-qualified creating a much more scalable and faster time-to-market for specialized designs.

Moore’s Law, of course, covers two-dimensional scaling of the process geometry: 28nm to 20nm to 14nm, and so on. Other approaches to creating diversity of system design technologies have become known as “More than Moore.” These include novel process integration technologies, packaging techniques such as system-in-package and 2.5D silicon interposers with thru silicon vias (TSVs). But this terminology also is applied to creating process options through techniques other than two-dimensional scaling.

Building a modular process on top of a baseline allows a better match with increased scalability, reduced complexity and a lower cost basis. A baseline can be extended with an RF module, non-volatile memory modules, a BCD module, a BCDlite™ module and so forth. These process varieties are perfectly suited for specialized analog, power, mixed-signal and micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) products.