At its annual technology symposium, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. revealed its new process technology designed specifically for ultra-low-power devices.
The N12e node promises to enable improved performance of various internet-of-things (IOT) products that need to combine rich functionality and long battery life.
Most of ultra-low-power fabrication processes from foundries today rely on planar transistors. By contrast, all high-performance nodes have long been using FinFET transistor with much higher performance and scaling potential. Being an evolution of TSMC’s 12FFC+_ULL node, N12e technology uses FinFET transistors, but offers energy-efficiency beyond that of modern low-power nodes.
TSMC claims its N12e process has a 76% higher logic density than its 22ULL fabrication technology, a 49% higher speed at a given power or a 55% lower power at a given frequency. In addition, the node reduces SRAM leakage current by 50% and supports 0.4V operation.
Using FinFET technology for a low-power process increases performance potential for devices that have to be very energy-efficient. Essentially, the N12e technology allows organizations to build products with capabilities and performance not possible today.
“Adapting TSMC’s 16/12 nm ultra-high performance FinFET technology for IOT products delivered the obvious performance benefits but required us to tune our recipe to deliver improved power efficiency and lower leakage. Special attention was paid to the off-state leakage characteristics,” wrote Godfrey Cheng, Head of Global Marketing at TSMC.
TSMC says its N12e node is aimed at various advanced IOT and edge devices that require to offer performance comparable to that of servers. The market for such devices is set to expand rapidly; according to analyst firm IDC, there will be over 40 billion connected IOT devices by 2025.