GlobalFoundries of Santa Clara, CA, USA (one of the world’s largest semiconductor foundries, with more than 250 customers and operations in Singapore, Germany and the USA) has announced its vision and roadmap for a range of technology platforms designed to help the transition to next-generation 5G wireless networks. The firm claims to offer the broadest set of solutions for 5G applications, from integrated millimeter-wave (mmWave) front end modules (FEMs), transceivers and baseband chips to high-performance application processors for mobile and networking.
As the world becomes more reliant on digital information, connectivity is expected to drive the number of connected devices to an estimated 8.4 billion by 2020. 5G will be a key enabler to help networks realize zero-distance connectivity between people and connected machines. The ubiquitous connectivity, throughput and speeds of 5G will allow applications to take full advantage of the processing power of the cloud, says the firm.
“We expect the transition from 4G to 5G to be as disruptive as the transition from voice to data,” says CEO Sanjay Jha. “5G is set to transform all industries, and our customers are already gearing up for the future. That is why we continuously push the technology frontier by delivering a rich technology portfolio to meet the requirements for applications that enable connected intelligence for disrupting technologies such as 5G,” he adds.
“The vision of 5G is to enable ultra-reliable communications with high data throughput, high user density, and less than 5ms of network latency,” comments Linley Gwennap, principal analyst of The Linley Group. “GlobalFoundries’ broad portfolio and experience positions the company well to address the needs of these networks as they transition to support 5G, from the device all the way to the data center and everything in between.”
GlobalFoundries offers a number of solutions to meet the performance criteria of 5G applications. Its technology roadmap includes RF-SOI, silicon germanium (SiGe), RF CMOS and advanced CMOS nodes, combined with a broad range of ASIC design services and IP.
5G end-to-end solutions
GlobalFoundries’ 5G solutions are part of the firm’s vision to develop and deliver the next wave of technology aimed at enabling connected intelligence for next-generation devices, networks and wired/wireless systems. These application-specific solutions address various customer approaches to 5G by supporting an range of capabilities, from ultra-low energy sensors, to ultra-fast devices with long-lasting battery life, to higher levels of integration that support on-chip memory.
- 5G mmWave front-end modules: GlobalFoundries’ RF-SOI and SiGe solutions (130-45nm) deliver what is claimed to be an optimal combination of performance, integration and power efficiency for FEMs and integrated power amplifier (PA) applications. Its mmWave solutions are designed to operate in between the mmWave and sub-6GHz frequency band, with additional mmWave bands on the firm’s roadmap. Customers can now start optimizing their chip designs to develop differentiated solutions for high performance in the RF front end of 5G and mmWave phased-array applications.
- 5G mmWave transceivers and baseband processing: GlobalFoundries’ FDX technology (22nm and 12nm) provides the lowest-power solution and smallest footprint for 5G transceivers with the integration of RF, ADC, digital baseband and memory on a single chip. Additional features include a unique back-gate bias capability that enables novel architectures and reconfigurable operation. These optimized solutions provide a flexible and cost-effective solution to integrate mmWave transceivers and baseband processing in 5G base stations, satellites, radar and other high-performance applications. FDX for mmWave will be available in 2018 through GlobalFoundries and its worldwide partners.
- Advanced Applications Processing: GlobalFoundries says that its CMOS FinFET-based process technologies deliver an optimal combination of performance, integration and power efficiency for next-generation smartphone processors, low-latency networks and massive MIMO networks. Advanced CMOS solutions are available now from GlobalFoundries.
- Custom design for 5G wireless base stations: The firm’s application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design systems (FX-14 and FX-7) enable optimized 5G solutions (functional modules) by supporting wireless infrastructure protocols on high-speed SerDes, solutions to integrate advanced packaging, monolithic, ADC/DAC and programmable logic. The 5G solution includes 32G BP and 32G SR SerDes to support CPRI, JESD204C standards. It also includes advanced packaging solutions such as 2.5D and MCM, with mmWave-capable ADC/DAC data converters and digital front end (DFE). FX-14 is available to customers now while volume production is expected in 2019 for FX-7.
These 5G solutions are available through GlobalFoundries and its worldwide partners. GF is currently working with customers to help support prototyping systems for deployment trials over the next several years.
With deep roots in both RF-SOI and SiGe processes, GlobalFoundries says that manufacturing legacy and technical expertise in understanding next-generation RF communication architectures has resulted in more than 32 billion RF SOI and 5 billion SiGe chips shipped.
To meet accelerating global demand for 5G solutions, GlobalFoundries is expanding manufacturing capacity in its 300mm fab in East Fishkill as well as adding new capabilities to produce its RF-SOI technology in its 200mm Singapore fab.
“A major challenge in the 5G mmW market is understanding methods to produce commercially viable phased-array antennas,” comments Robert Donahue, CEO of Anokiwave. “GlobalFoundries’ RF SOI and SiGe technology leadership enables Anokiwave to develop differentiated millimetre-wave solutions to embrace the industrialization of mmW 5G networks,” he believes.
“For nearly three decades, Peregrine’s UltraCMOS technology platform has been at the forefront of RF-SOI performance, and since 2013 our collaboration with GlobalFoundries has further enabled Peregrine to advance RF-SOI technology,” says Jim Cable, chief technology officer of Peregrine Semiconductor. “With 5G on the horizon, Peregrine is pleased to see GF committing to a 5G roadmap that will support Peregrine’s highly integrated 5G solutions,” he adds.
“Global Foundries has had a strong foundry relationship with Qualcomm Technologies for many years across a wide range of process nodes,” notes Cristiano Amon, executive VP, Qualcomm Technologies Inc and president, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies.
“As our customers increasingly demand more from their mobile experiences, the need for a strong manufacturing partner is greater than ever,” reckons Peter Gammel, chief technology officer at Skyworks Solutions Inc, who adds that GlobalFoundries is “focused on providing the technologies we can leverage to deliver powerful and future-ready RF solutions for 5G markets ranging from mobile connectivity and wireless infrastructure to the Internet of Things.”