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Global Foundries GTC Taiwan 2011

By now you're most likely wondering what SLP and HPP is, well, let's throw in another acronym while we're at it, LPH. SLP stands for Super Low Power and is a technology applied to devices such as application processors, cellular base bands, and all sorts of SoC's that goes into consumer electronics. It's a low cost technology and was designed for low power devices. HPP stands for High Performance Plus and would be used for devices such as high performance CPUs, various high-end networking solutions and games consoles. LPH on the other hand is something of a middle ground and the name is short for Low Power, High Performance. This is a recent addition to Global Foundries roadmap and the company is targeting this process towards things like notebook processors, graphics cards, tablet and set-top-box SoC's and a wide range of other applications.

By 2012, Global Foundries are expecting to have its first 20nm parts in mass production we're looking at a full node shrink from 28nm with twice the gate density and a claimed performance improvement of up to 35 percent or more. Due to various reasons, Global Foundries will move to a Gate Last approach here, as apparently Gate First doesn't offer the same benefits at 20nm as it does at 32 and 28nm. Its products will also migrate from three different solutions at 28nm to only two at 20nm. The LPH and SLP technologies will move to something called LPM while we see a move from HPP to SHP, where LPM will cover most products and SHP will be reserved for what the company calls “extreme high performance” products operating at speeds of 4GHz and above. Beyond a performance improvement across the board, we should also see a reduction in power for most parts by between 30 to 50 percent when moving from 28nm to 20nm.

Beyond 20nm things get a lot more unclear, although Global foundries roadmap is pointing towards 14nm as the next shrink, but this is only expected to take place sometime time in 2014/2015. That said, Global Foundries are looking at installing some test equipment in Fab 8 as early as the second half of next year that uses EUV or Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography which the company believes in as a must for a transition below 20nm. 3D packaging was also mentioned briefly, but not in a lot of detail, but it's obviously going to become a requirement somewhere down the road.

For AMD's sake we hope Global Foundries can deliver on its roadmap in a timely manner and although AMD is currently Global Foundries biggest customers, it's far from its only customers. ST-Ericsson's first dual core ARM Cortex-A15 SoC, the Nova A9600 is for example one of the first high-end SoC's to be manufactured using Global Foundries 28nm-SLP manufacturing process and it should be sampling before the end of this year. One thing is at least clear, Global Foundries is ready to fight the competition, but on the other hand it's also a company that is working together with a lot of partners to build an eco-system to make it as painless as possible for its customers to bring their products to market.  

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