Mobile SoCs can have low power without dopants, says SuVolta

SuVolta is tackling the low-power challenge of mobile SoC devices with its PowerShrink platform and undoped, deeply depleted channel (DDC) technology.

Fujitsu is the first licensee of this technology for its 65nm ASSP, ASIC, and COT product lines. The companies have verified the technology and begun joint development activities for commercialization, targeted to be available in the second half of 2012.

Figure 1. SuVolta Vt variation reduction in perspective, 65nm bulk CMOS Vt variation. (Source: F. Andrieu, et al., Solid State Technology, 11/10; with SuVolta data added.)
Figure 2. Exceptionally low-voltage SRAM operation. (Source: SuVolta)

Scott Thompson, SuVolta CTO/SVP of technology, says DDC technology produces high performance at low voltage because it enables inversion charge to move from source to drain without scattering with dopants. The undoped channel and screening regions provide threshold voltage variation as good as the best fully-depleted SOI (FDSOI) and fully-depleted FinFET research devices (Fig. 1), explained Thompson. (A more detailed discussion is available as a podcast interview at electroiq.com/podcasts.html.) Other data reported by the company highlights the technology's exceptionally low-voltage SRAM operation (Figs. 2 and 3).

Figure 3. 5 x lower SRAM leakage demonstrated. (Source: SuVolta)

Regarding scalability of this technology to nodes below 65nm, Thompson said that no circuit tricks are needed to make this technology work at low-voltage between 65 and 14nm. Because power dissipation is dominated by the low Vt edge of the distribution, the smaller the variation (σVt), the less leakage power.

Just as significant as performance considerations may be the cost issues inherent in the company's compatibility argument. The technology is compatible with existing fab infrastructure (no new equipment or materials), existing CMOS process integration (no added masks), legacy IP (with at least $1 billion invested in legacy IP by the industry, as estimated by SuVolta, this is not a trivial consideration), and existing EDA flows (standard SoC design flows and tools). — D.V.

Solid State Technology, Volume 54, Issue 7, July 2011

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