Few companies have gone through more recent changes than Freescale Semiconductor Inc., and few Freescale managers are busier now than Gregg Bartlett, vice president of CMOS technology.
Its moving time for many of Freescale’s technologists, and Bartlett and other Freescale technology development managers are trying to figure out who goes where.
About 180 process technology engineers and fab managers are now based in Crolles, France. Some of them will relocate quickly to Fishkill, N.Y. to work on Freescale’s 45-nm high-performance process with IBM and other Fishkill partners, while others will remain in Crolles a while longer to finish work on the general purpose and low power 45-nm processes.
Freescale’s HP process is SOI-based, but the targets are different than IBM or AMD. Freescale’s PowerQuicc network processors, for example, need to deliver 2 GHz frequencies and still fit within a 30 Watt power envelope – lower power ratings than IBM’s fastest silicon.
While Freescale engineers presented impressive high-k work at the recent International Electron Devices Meeting, Bartlett said “our high-k technology is not ready for prime time yet. Now that we have hitched our high-performance wagon to the Fishkill approach, we have to consolidate what we do with the other companies there.”
Freescale has business groups that need high-k and can afford the extra process complexity that comes from atomic layer (ALD) or MOCVD deposition. Putting two different metals into the mix adds costs.
“We are talking to the different Freescale business groups (about their needs for high-k) and we are talking to IBM about both versions” of the SOI high-performance process, with and without high-k dielectrics, he said.
By the end of this year, Freescale will consolidate its 32-nm low-power and general-purpose technology development in Austin and Fishkill. Freescale expects to take a leading position in the Fishkill low-power (LP) project which now includes which Chartered Semiconductor, IBM, Infineon, and Samsung Electronics.
At Crolles, Freescale co-developed a split-power expertise which enables a 1V Vdd for an ARM core, for example, and a lower power supply for other portions of the SoC. Bartlett said the split-power technology will be used in 3G-phone and other chip sets.
Freescale is now owned by a private equity group led by the Blackstone Group, and cynics argue that Freescale’s R&D budget will shrink as a result. In recent years, Freescale has made technology news with its pioneering work in MRAM, RCP packaging, and gallium arsenide dielectrics, among others.
“These are very important assets, technologies that nobody else has,” Bartlett said, promising to continue to support “differentiators.”
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