THIN but Great Silicon 2 Design Objects


The key characteristics of FD-SOI, namely energy efficiency, large dynamic range, higher absolute performance and higher radiation tolerance than bulk silicon, make it very useful for solving the main challenges facing silicon implementations in several application areas:


  • Bio-signal monitoring


An important societal challenge is to keep the ageing population healthier as long as possible. On approach is to have a continuous monitoring of vital signs thanks to bio-sensors. FD-SOI will allow reducing the energy demand for processing and increasing efficiency of communication, while working with small batteries.


  • Energy efficient Computing

Energy efficient computing becomes more and more important for the infrastructure of modern digital and real life. But the energy consumed in compute intensive electronics is rapidly increasing. Therefore energy saving technologies is absolutely essential for computing intensive devices. Today most solutions are trying to find better architecture or system organisation. While these approaches are useful, it should be noted that all these are specific to application. The main advantage of FDSOI is that it brings a drastic energy efficency for all applications. Using the FD-SOI semiconductor technology will allow to consider the performance / power consumption trade-off in a new and innovative way for many emerging application like wearable electronics and all other kind of networked objects


  • Avionics and spatial applications

Since the mission duration in Avionics can reach from 10 to 30 years, another important issue is the ageing or wear-out of FD-SOI technology. This phenomenon causes a variation in time of electrical parameters, which results in a performance degradation of devices until the loss of functionality. A serious effect is the propagation of error(s) at system level that can cause a system injurious.
Natural radiations increase with altitude. At the altitude used by commercial aircraft, 40,000ft, there is a significant difference in radiation levels compared to ground level (300x). A radiation can cause a single event or an upset effect. The energetic particle modifies the electrical charge in a region of a semiconductor device. This can change the state of the transistor or alter its analog output. The result is a logic error in the circuit. The sensitivity to radiation increases with the reduction of transistor sizes, the circuit density, combined with lower threshold voltages. With FD-SOI, the very thin active zone of 7nm, the volume of collection charges remains very low. Therefore, the sensitivity to natural radiation is naturally drastically reduced.
In addition, with FD-SOI the number of functions per mm-squared integrated into a single chip can be increased. Thus, in Avionics, FD-SOI technology will enable a better system integration to reduce the electronic equipment weight, leveraging for a global flight cost saving.


  • Next generation portable devices

Mobile and portable devices are currently represented by smartphones, which have both high performance peaks (for example when decoding HD video or recording) or low compute requirements (when playing MP3 for example). Therefore, they need processors that have both a very high performance at limited power consumption and low performance at very low power. In the coming years, the functions of those mobile devices will be even broader, incorporating augmented reality linked with vision recognition and accurate localization determination. These systems will help pedestrians navigating in very constrained environments or public infrastructures like museums, historical buildings, etc. The navigation system will provide information such as positioning and navigation, scene interpretation with augmented information on what is perceived by the pedestrian, as well as event and pedestrian flow analysis. The system will be composed of smart glasses for augmented reality in order to provide a very convenient way to access the information. Ultra low energy consumption with image processing and accurate GPS localization is mandatory. These devices also need to communicate, either with an embedded device in the pocket with very low energy RF protocol, or directly with external servers. The FD-SOI is a key-enabling technology for these new systems. Indeed, pedestrian navigation augmented by smart digital information requires a high-level of computing performance in a very constrained energy consumption environment.


The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community under the ENIAC Nanoelectronics Framework Programme