IBM today announced an innovative chip design that can improve performance fourfold or reduce power consumption fivefold in wireless devices compared to the state-of-the-art thin-silicon bipolar technology.
This achievement builds on IBM's recent announcement of clever new design and manufacturing methods that improve the performance and lower the power consumption of pure computing chips. As the wireless industry grows, device manufacturers will need better mixed-signal chips that support both computing applications and high frequency communications applications. This new chip design uses a revolutionary wafer thin enough to maximize the performance of both the computing and communications components.
Today complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) chips are the foundation for computing applications; silicon germanium (SiGe) bipolar chips provide radio frequency communications and analog functions. To improve the reliability of wireless devices, chip manufacturers have created SiGe BiCMOS chips that put computing and communications transistors onto one chip instead of using separate chips for computing and communications applications.
CMOS computing chips show higher performance when built atop a thin silicon on insulator (SOI) wafer. However, traditional SiGe bipolar transistors cannot be built on a thin SOI wafer. Until now, no one had been able to find a technique to combine CMOS and SiGe bipolar onto one wafer that would maximize the performance of both. IBM is the first to build SiGe bipolar using a thin SOI wafer, thereby paving the way to build SiGe bipolar and CMOS on the same thin SOI wafer, maximizing the performance of both the computing and communications functions.
"As the wireless industry continues to grow, new devices will require greater functionalities, performance, and reliability from their components," said Dr. T. C. Chen, VP Science and Technology, IBM Research. "IBM continues to find new methods to improve chips to ensure that the industry can meet consumer demands. The new chip design could be implemented within five years, enabling applications such as video streaming on cell phones."
IBM presented details of this new chip design today at the 2003 Bipolar/BiCMOS Circuits and Technology Meeting taking place this week in Toulouse, France. This project was a collaboration between researchers and developers at the IBM Semiconductor Research and Development Center, IBM Research and IBM Microelectronics Division.