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TowerJazz and TPSCo Develop 300mm RF SOI Process for 4G LTE Smartphones

TowerJazz, the global specialty foundry leader and TowerJazz Panasonic Semiconductor Co. (TPSCo), the leading analog foundry in Japan, today announced breakthrough RF technology for next-generation 4G LTE smartphones and IoT devices.

Through a collaborative effort, TowerJazz and its majority owned subsidiary, TPSCo, have developed a new 300mm RF SOI process that can reduce losses in an RF switch by as much as 30% relative to current technology, improving battery life and boosting data rates. The technology achieves a record Ron-Coff figure of merit of sub-90fs and is now being sampled to a lead customer.

"This best in the world achievement is a strong reflection of our company's strategy and pristine execution of the TPSCo endeavor combining outstanding deep digital technology with TowerJazz's advanced RF expertise," said Russell Ellwanger, TowerJazz CEO. "Such achievements are one of the foundations for long term customer partnerships and future roadmap alignments."

"We are very pleased with the device figures of merit and the customer excitement around our newly developed process. This process combines best in class 0.18um TowerJazz RF SOI technology with TPSCo's advanced 45nm process capabilities to create a silicon-based device with breakthrough performance. To our knowledge, this is the lowest Ron X Coff demonstrated in RF SOI devices with robust power handling capability," commented Guy Eristoff, CEO of TPSCo.

The Ron X Coff product is a key figure of merit for RF switching that measures the ability to pass signals with low power losses important in improving battery life and data rates in next generation smartphones. TPSCo's ability to print 45nm dimensions also enables the integration of an increasing number of RF features in a small footprint on a single, RF-friendly, SOI die.

"Just a few years ago, a sub-100fs Ron-Coff figure of merit for an SOI switch technology was considered unthinkable. But no longer. SOI continues to remain the most ideally suited technology for meeting the demands of 4G/LTE-A and beyond: the lowest power (insertion) loss, almost perfect isolation and the most stringent linearity, and all at a competitive cost," said Len Jelinek, Director and Chief Analyst, Semiconductor Manufacturing, IHS Technology.

Mobile Experts LLC, a market research firm for mobile communications, forecasts the RF front- end component market size to reach $10.8 billion in 2015, rising rapidly to over $16 billion in 2018. This explosive market growth is powered by rapid growth in worldwide 4G-LTE enabled Smartphone shipments and IoT devices along with increasing RF component dollar content per mobile terminal due to rapid proliferation of frequency bands (40+) and increasing adoption of Carrier Aggregation (3+) and MIMO (up to 64 X 8).

"We are already in high volume production with our industry leading SOI technologies in our Newport Beach (USA) and Migdal Haemek (Israel) fabs. Opening up the 300mm Uozu fab in Japan now also gives us additional scale and the supply flexibility needed to capitalize on RF component market growth," said Dr. Marco Racanelli, SVP/GM of RF/High Performance Analog and Power Business Groups at TowerJazz.



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