Texas Instruments Raises Transistor Performance by Over 50 Percent

10/14/2003 - Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE: TXN) announced it is taking advantage of several new proprietary techniques, including strained silicon, to develop chips with dramatically faster transistors. By raising transistor performance over 50 percent using a conventional planar CMOS transistor, TI can cost-effectively deliver higher performance products using its installed base of high volume manufacturing equipment.

"Finding effective new ways to push the performance envelope using standard CMOS without sacrificing cost, yield or reliability is what customers expect from TI," commented Hans Stork, senior vice president and director of silicon technology development. "While we explore moving to innovative new materials and transistor structures, TI continues to drive innovation using the same economical CMOS structure the industry has relied on for decades."

By pushing the parameters of its 90nm process, TI expects its transistor performance to improve over 50 percent compared to its fastest 130nm transistor. TI's highest performance CMOS logic relies on an industry leading, 37nm gate length and highly effective gate dielectric scaling to reduce capacitance and increase drive current, the primary factors in transistor switching speed, which in turn determines processor operating frequency. Other improvements combining to drive performance in both the NMOS and PMOS transistors include strain induced on the transistor channel to increase electron mobility, nickel silicide to lower gate resistance, and ultra-shallow source / drain junctions. TI also continues to drive the trend toward 2.9 k (OSG) dielectric material from 3.6 k (FSG) used in the previous generation. Low-k materials reduce capacitance and propagation delays within the interconnect layers of a device, further boosting the overall chip performance.

Sun Microsystems, the driver for TIs highest performance process technology, will take advantage of the higher operating frequencies and transistor densities made possible by TIs 90nm process on their UltraSPARCTM 64-bit microprocessor.

"The underlying process technology Sun receives from TI is critical to the future of Chip Multithreading (CMT) which is at the heart of our Throughput Computing strategy," said Dr. David Yen, executive vice president, Processor and Network Products group, Sun Microsystems. "The radical new designs we have planned will require the increased density and speed afforded by this new 90nm process technology, and will be key to bringing advanced UltraSPARC processors to market."

TI builds a variety of optimized process flows for each technology generation to provide the best performance for different end equipment requirements. The different flows are carefully targeted to achieve the right application balance between transistor performance and power consumption. In January TI became one of the first semiconductor companies to deliver working 90nm products with a wireless baseband chip built with a low power version of its process.

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