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Posted: July 17, 2009
Key European Nano2012 program will build on European leadership in CMOS platforms
(Nanowerk News) STMicroelectronics, one of the world's leading semiconductor manufacturers, and CEA-LETI, the French Laboratory for Electronics & Information Technology, have announced that Madame Christine Lagarde, the French Minister of Economy, Industry and Employment, along with representatives from national, regional and local authorities and managers from CEA-LETI and ST met today at ST's site at Crolles, near Grenoble, France, to celebrate the formal launch of the Nano2012 Research and Development program. Also present at the ceremony were representatives of IBM, which is a key partner of ST and CEA-LETI via important technology development agreements it has signed with both organizations.
Nano2012 is a public/private strategic R&D program, led by ST, which gathers research institutes and industrial partners and is supported by French national, regional and local authorities. The program aims to create one of the world's most advanced R&D clusters for the development of new generations of semiconductor technologies at the nanoelectronic level, where the dimensions of the structures used to build the silicon chips are in the order of tens of nanometers.
The Nano2012 cooperation program, along with other leading cooperative programs such as CATRENE, will significantly contribute to the continued strength of Europe's electronics industry by providing competitive access to the most advanced CMOS technologies from 32nm down to 22nm. Work on the Nano2012 program started on January 1, 2008. The five-year program, which will run until December 31, 2012, is partly funded (Euros 457 million) by the French public authorities. The program includes the participation of other partners such as INRIA (the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control), CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), universities, and many small- and medium-sized enterprise partners.
ST and CEA-LETI have a long history of R&D collaboration, including the initial set up of the Crolles R&D center in 1992. As a leading research laboratory, CEA-LETI provides a vital interface between long-term academic research and ST's market-driven industrial R&D. In July 2007, ST joined the semiconductor Joint Development Alliance centered at IBM's Semiconductor Research and Development Center in East Fishkill and Albany, New York, which develops core and low-power CMOS processes from 32 to 22nm, and IBM joined ST in Crolles to develop value-added application-specific derivative CMOS technologies. Additionally, CEA-LETI and IBM, which have strong and complementary expertise in the development of materials and processes required for CMOS technology, are collaborating on advanced process R&D down to 22nm and beyond, at CEA-LETI's Grenoble site (France), IBM's East Fishkill facility (NY), ST's Crolles site (France), and at the Albany NanoTech research center (NY).
Since the start of the Nano2012 program in January 2008, ST and IBM have exchanged researchers between their sites at Crolles and East Fishkill and have begun working along with researchers from CEA-LETI on a variety of key programs, including 32nm and 28 nm core CMOS processes, 45nm RF (Radio Frequency) derivative technology for wireless applications and 65nm non-volatile-memory derivative technology for use in automotive and smart-card applications. These technologies will allow exciting new products in communication, consumer, computer and automotive applications that consume less power and last longer on batteries, operate faster, and provide more functions and greater utility to end users.
Nano2012 focuses on technology platform development for low-power and application-specific derivative CMOS technologies. A technology platform encompasses the manufacturing process by which billions of transistors are integrated onto a single silicon chip as well as the components libraries and the design methodology to efficiently design leading-edge circuits in this process. Utilizing its world-class teams based in Crolles and Grenoble, ST and its partners are already among the world leaders in this area and a key aim of Nano2012 is to extend this leadership.
Value-added application-specific derivative technologies are key differentiators to the standard CMOS technology and an important goal of Nano2012 is for the R&D cluster based in Grenoble-Isere to continue as a world leader in this field.
CEA is a French public research and technology organisation, with activities in three main areas: Energy, Technologies for Information and Healthcare, and Defence and Security. Within CEA, the Laboratory for Electronics & Information Technology (LETI) works with companies in order to increase their competitiveness through technological innovation and transfers. LETI is focused on micro and nanotechnologies and their applications, from wireless devices and systems, to biology and healthcare or photonics. Nanoelectronics and Microsystems (MEMS) are at the core of its activities. As a major player in MINATEC excellence centre, LETI operates 8,000 m(2) state-of-the-art clean rooms, on 24/7 mode, on 200 mm and 300 mm wafer standards.
STMicroelectronics is a global leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications with innovative semiconductor solutions. ST aims to be the undisputed leader in multimedia convergence and power applications leveraging its vast array of technologies, design expertise and combination of intellectual property portfolio, strategic partnerships and manufacturing strength.
Nanoelectronics is a term used to describe electronics structures less than 100 nanometers (nm) in size and covers the manufacturing of ever-smaller and hence higher performance of existing semiconductor devices. Because of the miniaturization of the nanoelectronics structures and the challenges of understanding and taking advantage of the interactions of the structures, further advances require a multidisciplinary approach, sophisticated research and production facilities and, above all, much greater coordination of pre-competitive industry-oriented research and public support at regional, Member State and EU level.
About CMOS Technology
Semiconductor technology has long been recognized as the essential engine for progress in all electronics applications, from automotive systems and factory automation to PCs, mobile phones and consumer multimedia equipment. In particular, the semiconductor technology known as CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) plays a crucial role because in each new generation of CMOS technology the transistors that make up the complex electronic circuits are reduced in area by 50%, which makes the resulting integrated circuits cost less to produce, consume less power and operate faster. Generations of CMOS technology are identified by referencing a characteristic minimum feature size they can produce. For example, in the 45nm generation (the '45nm node') used in leading-edge circuits today, the half-pitch of the smallest memory cell measures 45nm or 45 billionths of a meter. In comparison, the diameter of a typical human hair is about 50,000nm.
About Value-Added Application-Specific Derivative technologies
Value-added application-specific derivative technologies are enhancements to the standard 'core CMOS' technology that are optimized for specific kinds of applications. These can make a fundamental difference in terms of chip capability and performance. For example, an automotive engine-management unit requires a controller than can perform extremely complex mathematical calculations in real-time, in addition to storing key data and parameters, even if the car battery is dead. This requires a derivative technology called 'embedded non-volatile memory,' in which the core CMOS process is adapted to allow the chip to incorporate a block of Flash memory.
Several application-specific derivative technologies, developed in Crolles within this program, allow particular types of memory to be embedded in the chip for a wide range of applications. These range from smart cards to automotive or aerospace systems. Other application-specific derivative technologies are optimized for imaging applications such as camera phones, for Radio Frequency applications such as Bluetooth chips, for Power Management to maximize battery life of portable devices, or for safety-critical systems such as implanted medical devices, aerospace applications, computers for banks and stock exchanges, where failure would have severe financial consequences, as well as Internet routers that are expected to operate continuously with minimum downtime.