By Luke Collins, Tech Design Forum
New variability issues highlighted by a massive process simulation exercise could make it more difficult than expected to achieve the performance advantages of emerging 7nm and 5nm processes.
Nano-electronics research centre imec has worked with Coventor to simulate the process variability of its 7nm BEOL fabrication processes using Coventor’s SEMulator3D virtual fabrication platform. The simulation of a full process window, looking at how multiple parameters of multiple processes interact, would have taken one million wafers to complete using conventional methods.
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Yesterday Intel announced its readiness for high-volume manufacturing of 3-D tri-gate (FinFET) transistors. Among other benefits, the tri-gate configuration allows Intel to manufacture higher performance fully-depleted devices without resorting to Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI) wafers. The performance gains quoted by Intel over their own 32nm planar transistor technology are impressive, including a 37% speed increase at low voltage , 18% speed increase at high voltage and 50% or greater power reduction at constant performance. All these performance benefits come with only a 2-3% cost increase.
I was interested to note that Silvaco has recently listed SEMulator3D as a competitor for their VICTORY Process Cell software on their website. It’s great to be mentioned as a contender in the TCAD process simulation space. But I’d like to take the opportunity to examine the following question – are SEMulator3D and VICTORY Process Cell really direct competitors?
On the surface, both SEMulator3D and VICTORY Process Cell can do some similar things. Both tools are fast, layout driven process modeling engines that are designed to build 3D models of MEMS and semiconductor devices. Both tools can model individual process steps or entire process sequences, and can model a variety of process and device types. And both tools can create meshes suitable for further physics simulation.