By Ed Sperling
New technology markets and a flattening in smartphone growth has sparked a resurgence in older technology processes. For many of these up-and-coming applications, there is no compelling reason to migrate to the latest process node, and equipment companies and fabs are rushing to fill the void.
As with all electronic devices, the focus is on cost-cutting. But because these markets are likely to generate lower volumes than mobile phones or PCs, the majority of those savings will not come from shrinking features. In many cases, these are either original designs (rather than derivatives), and the technologies are still being developed. Some are custom, some are partially custom, and most are heterogeneous. Designing and manufacturing them using finFET processes would be price-prohibitive.