IBM Alliance Announces 28-nm Processor Development

IBM and a host of partners are working on a 28-nm semiconductor design that will offer improved performance, reduced feature designs and better battery life, all of which are important factors for the newest mobile and consumer electronics devices, including mobile Internet devices. The alliance, which has been working on 32-nm technologies, also is creating an easy migration path from 32-nm to 28-nm, enabling designers to create offerings on the 32-nm platform, and then easily move those designs to the 28-nm technology.

IBM and a number of partners are developing 28-nanometer semiconductor technology aimed at mobile and consumer electronics applications.

The IBM Joint Development Alliance-which includes Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, Global Foundries, Infineon Technologies, Samsung Electronics and STMicroelectronics-announced April 16 that they are jointly developing a 28-nm, HKMG (high-k metal gate), low-power CMOS processor technology.

The technology will result in processors that offer longer battery life and higher performance than their 32-nm predecessors, all of which is important to the raft of mobile devices-including the growing MID (mobile Internet device) market.

"Through this collaboration, IBM and its alliance partners are helping to accelerate development of next-generation technology to achieve high-performance, energy efficient chips at the 28-nm process level," Gary Patton, vice president for IBM's Semiconductor R&D Center, said in a statement.

The alliance has been working on 32-nm low-power processor technologies, which officials with the partner companies say has given them insight into what is needed to make the move to 28-nm.

With the migration path that the group is laying out, customers can begin their designs now on the 32-nm platform, and then migrate to 28-nm with little disruption to their designs when that platform is available.

The alliance offered a 28-nm evaluation kit to early access clients in December 2008, then a second evaluation kit to the general tech industry in March. The 28-nm platform is expected in the first half of 2010.

Initial testing of the 28-nm chips-which is about half the size of a 45-nm chip-with early access clients and partners has indicated that the 28-nm technology platform can offer performance improvements of up to 40 percent, and reductions in power consumption of as much as 20 percent.

The high-k metal gate technology helps drive the reduction in size and improvements in energy efficiency, according to alliance members. The result is microchip designs with improved performance, reduced feature sizes and low standby power, all of which are important to the newest mobile computing devices.