17 May 2016
TowerJazz begins mass production of integrated SiGe-based 'front-end module on a chip' RF platform tailored for Internet of Things
Specialty foundry TowerJazz (which has fabrication plants at Tower Semiconductor Ltd in Migdal Haemek, Israel, and at its subsidiaries Jazz Semiconductor Inc in Newport Beach, CA, USA and TowerJazz Japan Ltd) has announced volume production of a new RF technology capable of integrating a wireless front-end module (FEM) on a single chip, tailored to meet Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Analysts estimate that the number of IoT connected devices will grow at 15-20% annually, reaching up to 30 billion units by 2020. McKinsey Global Institute recently estimated that IoT could generate up to $11 trillion by 2025.
The TowerJazz process enables integration of power amplifiers (PAs), switches, and low-noise amplifiers as well as CMOS digital and power control on a single die. TowerJazz is delivering this product now for smartphones, tablets and wearables, and the technology also meets the more universal requirements of IoT applications by providing hat are claimed to be cost, power, performance and form-factor benefits versus competing solutions.
As an example, TowerJazz has partnered with Skyworks Solutions Inc of Woburn, MA, USA (which manufactures analog and mixed-signal semiconductors) to deliver a first-of-its-kind integrated wireless FEM using this technology. "We are pleased that our long partnership with TowerJazz on SiGe BiCMOS for PA-based products is now in volume production for key customers of Skyworks," says Bill Vaillancourt, general manager & VP Skyworks Connectivity Solutions.
TowerJazz's new RF technology includes a 0.18µm silicon germanium (SiGe) PA device with what is claimed to be best-in-class silicon-based performance, a low Ron-Coff switch device, a SiGe low-noise amplifier (LNA), 5V CMOS for power control, 0.18µm CMOS for integrating MIPI or other digital content as well as thick copper (Cu) metal layers for low-loss inductors and matching components. By offering all active components typically required for a wireless FEM, the technology enables a new family of products that can integrate multiple communication standards (WiFi, Bluetooth, 802.15.4 or NFC) that form the backbone of the IoT fabric today onto the same chip.
"This new technology complements our existing suite of SiGe PA and RF SOI [silicon-on-insulator] switch technology offerings and provides customers new architectural options by enabling the combination of these elements on a single die while offering best-in-class silicon-based PA performance," says Marco Racanelli, senior VP & general manager of RF/High Performance Analog and US Aerospace & Defense Business Groups, and Newport Beach Site Manager, TowerJazz.
TowerJazz will exhibit and demonstrate its process technologies for specialty IC manufacturing in booth #1532 at IEEE's International Microwave Symposium (IMS 2016) in San Francisco (22-27 May).