RF wireless gets a CMOS boost from UMC

Hsinchu (Taiwan) - UMC has completed full development and testing of its 65nm CMOS-based Radio Frequency (RF) manufacturing process technology, called RFCMOS. They’re now ready to provide full development, including libraries, IP, layout, design and testing technology. RFCMOS allows direct integration into existing CMOS designs for single-die solutions. The primary focus of RFCMOS will be the wireless world of 2008, something Intel, Motorolla and Sprint are pushing for in the U.S.

WiFi, WiMAX, Wireless USB and cellular technologies, all integrated into single pieces of silicon and, in some instances, even combination devices such as WiFi + WiMAX. That’s the goal UMC has in mind for their customers in 2008. This new ability will ultimately filter down to the gadgets we’ll buy next year. They’ll be connected wirelessly to whatever signal happens to be in the air. The vision is one where everyone can move around freely in the world with constant broadband connectivity no matter where we are. And with RFCMOS, UMC would like all of it to operate via inexpensive, single-die silicon solutions.

What does it take to make RF work in CMOS ? UMC invested considerable resources in moving their regular 65nm process technology to include RF designs. Early in 2006 the base abilities of the process were completed, but it’s taken until now for UMC to develop and validate all of the tools. These are necessary to deliver the simple creation utilities which allow their customers to migrate easily to CMOS. Customers can, for example, take their existing proprietary designs on speciality hardware, such as silicon-germanium, and recompile them into a form which will work in silicon alone. This will more easily and directly integrate whatever existing products they might have. For cell phones, this could mean a single piece of silicon, not just a single package, containing most everything necessary to make the product function. And for WiFi/WiMAX, the reality here is integrated components which are directly coupled to on-board control circuitry.

According to UMC’s press release, "Complete deliverables are available for 65nm RF solutions, including fundamental libraries, IP, and the foundry industry’s first transformer library to help customers jump-start their design-in process. Full characterization reports, models with mismatch Monte Carlo simulation, advance HF noise model and foundry design kits (FDK) complement the 65nm RF process, with RF SPICE models and ESD manuals and support ready."

UMC’s Corporate Marketing VP, Lee Chung, said, "UMC’s 65nm RF process has been optimized to enable today’s sophisticated wireless devices that demand increased functionality and lower power consumption in smaller packages. The SoC solution package offered with the 65nm RF technology makes it ideal for new designs, as well as customers wishing to migrate existing products to gain the dramatic performance advantages of the more advanced process."

UMC is volume capable today and this reality will filter into us late in 2008 when products are designed, manufactured, validated and released just in time for the Wireless world we’ll begin seeing in force, according to Intel and Motorolla, sometime late next year.