New Technology for SoCs Emerges to Bolster the Semiconductor Market

As an Android user (or if you’re a fanboy), it is your right to know the processor in the heart of your beloved device. One of the things that makes us proud owners of our Android smartphones is the internal packaging coupled with the UX and overall feel of the device.

Time and again I find myself bragging about the specification of my Note 4 and how beastly it is compared to the flock of smartphones out there. If you are unaware of the details on what processes the Qualcomm or Mediatek processor running in your device is based on, we will quickly bring you up to speed.

First and foremost, 95% the mobile  semiconductor companies out there have their processors based on ARMs Cortex-A series design that requires to be licensed before use. ARM holdings Plc is a British multinational semiconductor establishment with headquarters located in Cambridge, England.

Finfet tech

The company’s primary business is designing the CPU and some GPU chipsets running smartphones. ARM (Advanced RISC {reduced instruction set computing} Machines), ever since its establishment 25 years ago, has accumulated over thirty licensing partners.

The company’s main competitors include Intel (Atom), Imagination Technologies (MIPS), and AMD. It’s GPU competitors include Imagination Technologies (PowerVR), Qualcomm (Adreno) and increasingly, Nvidia, and Intel.

Most of the aforementioned semiconductor companies manufacture mobile chipsets with the likes of Qualcomm, Samsung LSI, and Mediatek leading the way. Little did you know that the Flagship chipsets from these companies are or will be based off the latest 14-16 FinFET manufacturing processes.

The FinFET die process at its earliest was pioneered by Intel which saw to the subsequent update of its Atom line of processors (Cherry Trail) after which Samsung joined in with its Exynos line of chipsets, starting with the Exynos 7420 and the yet-to-be-released Mongoose M1 8890 SoC (expected to be featured in some variants of the upcoming Galaxy S7).

The aforementioned chipsets were based on the individual company’s 14nm FinFET processes. However, today, the Chinese foundries are ignoring the FinFET technology and will be developing an entirely different manufacturing die process, far off from the idea behind the FF tech.

According to Digitimes Research, the foundries are working on a Fully Depleted Silicon-on-Insulator (FD-SOI) or otherwise called Ultra-Thin Body (UTB) alternative technology. The advantages of UTB over FinFET includes the list below, but it is, however, unknown when the tech will be ready for prime time.

  • Cheaper operating cost per unit
  • Lower forward voltage
  • Lower operating voltage
  • More power saving

FD-SOI is no longer seen as competition to the FinFET technology, but rather a means to drive the semiconducting technology as a whole. We expect that in the nearer future we will see more chipset manufacturers basing their SoCs on the new UTB processing package. It will be exciting to see the power this will bring to our Android devices of the future (if the technology does gain traction).

In the meantime, share your thoughts on the FinFET and FD-SOI/UTB manufacturing process with us in the comments below and don’t hesitate to ask any questions.

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