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Picking a Process Technology

By Bill Isaacson on 06/10/2016
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There is a wide array of process technologies and process options to choose from when developing a new circuit. Which one is best for your project? A good way to begin this analysis is to focus on what’s most important for your particular design.

Questions to ask include:

  • Does my project demand high performance or low power?
  • Is my power requirement driven by active or leakage power?
  • Does my project require IP that limits the process nodes I can consider? For example, PCIe G3 requires 40nm or finer geometry. DDR4 requires 28nm or finer geometry.

An analysis like this should narrow the possible technologies to a manageable few.

Next, you can begin to quantify the benefits to your project of various process options to solidify your choice. For example – when comparing two 28nm processes, one focuses on performance, one on low leakage. You want minimal total power for a given performance level running at 80 degrees C. Which is better?

You can first examine total power over temperature for the two processes as follows:

Process_Option_Graph_1.jpg

This analysis implies the blue process is a better fit. If we now look at performance over temperature, we see this same process provides superior results. The choice is clear.

Process_Option_Graph_2.jpg

These types of analysis can be easily generated with eSilicon’s design virtualization technology. We can help you find the right process and process options with this unique tool.