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China's FD-SOI plan: A mystery yet to be revealed

Posted: 07 Apr 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Soitec  FinFET  FD-SOI  more than Moore 

NSIG, when launched, specified its focus on 'semiconductor material business and its ecosystem development.' I don't think I'm alone seeing FD-SOI's fingerprints all over the place in NSIG's inital press release, in which Chinese Academy of Science' Wang Xi was quoted mentioning "more than Moore."

Ready to boost FD-SOI capacity

Although this announcement made no waves in the United States (because Soitec isn't listed in the U.S. market), Soitec announced in February its plan to carry out two capital increases this year for a total between nearly $148 million to $204 million.

According to Euroinvestor, Soitec will use the proceeds from the issuance "to finance investments in FD-SOI production capacity and strengthen Soitec's balance sheet."

The implication is clear. Soitec must boost its FD-SOI 300mm capacity to the max at its site in France, to match Globalfoundries' and Samsung's move to mass production using FD-SOI wafers.

In the bigger scheme, China's investment in Soitec isn't going to change the world, but it could move the needle.

After all, especially in the eyes of those deeply involved in the FinFET-centric world, FD-SOI is often described as a process technology that has come too little too late. That perception still persists.

But it's important to note that FD-SOI proponents aren't saying that FD-SOI will replace FinFET. They simply say that the technology roadmap doesn't need to be a single, straight line. Technologies can diverge. FD-SOI can offer chips designed for different applications in different markets.

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, if you see a fork in the road, take it.

Until now, though, China's interest in FD-SOI remained unclear. In particular, China's largest foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) appears more inspired to go after FinFET.

But now that NSIG's investment in Soitec has surfaced, confirming a certain FD-SOI interest in China, the next big question is piquing my curiosity. Which Chinese foundry is willing to bet on FD-SOI? I'm waiting for another shoe to drop.

- Junko Yoshida
  EE Times

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