Silicon-on-insulator (SOI), a semiconductor process technology available today in mass production, offers many advantages to chip designers over traditional generic CMOS:
- Speed: Exploiting the floating-body effect of an SOI transistor allows a current drive increase that directly translates to a significant speed improvement.
- Power: When using thin silicon, a near ideal subthreshold slope can be achieved in SOI transistors.
- Latchup free: With SOI, devices are fully wrapped in an insulator, resulting in near latchup-free circuits.
- Radiation hardness: SOI provides a drastic improvement in rad-hard performance based on the reduction in exposed silicon volume.
- RF performance: The use of high-resistivity SOI substrates enables crosstalk reduction and the integration of high quality onchip inductors.
- High temperature compatibility: As junction leakage is significantly reduced, circuits operating up to 400°C have been reported.
- Smart power integration: With the insulation from the SOI stack, high-voltage devices (to 250 V) can be easily integrated without any increase in process complexity.
- Embedded memory integration: The SOI floating-body effect can be used to create an ultra-dense DRAM block. These memories offer up to twice the density of embedded DRAM and up to five times the density of SRAM, yet they're fast and consume very little power.
Pierre Fazan is the CTO and VP of engineering of Innovative Silicon Inc. Send your Design Tips to [email protected].