Soitec (Euronext), a manufacturer of semiconductor materials and a supplier of wafers for radio-frequency silicon-on-insulator (RF-SOI) applications, has begun mass production of 300mm RF-SOI substrates for mobile communications. The 300mm version of Soitec’s RFeSI90 substrate is made possible by the company’s proprietary technologies, long-time experience with 200mm RF-SOI and 300mm high-volume manufacturing expertise. These advanced wafers open the door for new enhancements that enable more highly integrated ICs for 4G/LTE-Advanced communications and the next generation of wireless technologies, including 5G.
This announcement comes at the same time as Soitec reports cumulative sales of one million 200mm RF-SOI wafers since 2009, hitting a milestone that underscores the pivotal role of RF-SOI in the booming wireless communications market. The one million RF-SOI wafers manufactured and shipped by Soitec have yielded approximately 20 billion ICs for front-end modules (FEMs). Soitec’s RF-SOI substrates are now integral in manufacturing antenna switches, antenna tuners, some power amplifiers and WiFi circuits, meeting the demanding requirements of leading-edge smart phone ICs. They have been widely adopted by leading RF semiconductor companies to address cost, performance and integration needs for the 3G and 4G/LTE mobile wireless markets.
“The widespread use of Soitec’s materials technology in existing 3G and 4G portable communications demonstrates the important role of RF-SOI in high-volume, cost-sensitive applications such as cellular phones, tablets and other fast-growing markets involving mobile internet devices,” said Bernard Aspar, senior vice president of Soitec’s Communication & Power Business Unit. “Now the high-volume availability of our newest 300mm RF-SOI offering enables our customers and their customers to continue to deliver higher performance while giving them access to foundries’ larger global production capacities and more manufacturing flexibility.”
While Soitec has been shipping large volumes of 200mm RF-SOI wafers for many years and continuing to increase its 200mm production capacity, the company has been delivering over the past 18 months.
300mm RFeSI90 wafer samples for product qualification. Key partnerships with fabless semiconductor companies and foundries have been instrumental in achieving the production milestones and performance levels of Soitec’s new 300mm RF-SOI product. The large supply of 300mm wafers allows Soitec’s customers to expand their production capacities for RF-SOI devices and produce more highly integrated ICs.
The new wafers – based on a more advanced SOI process – offer higher levels of performance such as better uniformity, a key parameter in achieving greater control of transistor matching for analog semiconductor designs and allowing designs with thinner transistors and additional process options to improve RonCoff performance, the figure of merit that is used to rate the performance of an RF switch.
Soitec continues to work on future generations of RF-SOI substrates with a product roadmap to further enable more innovation and cost effectiveness for future mobile communication markets.