GlobalFoundries: 7nm Chips Coming in 2018, EUV in 2019

By Tiffany Trader

June 13, 2017

GlobalFoundries has formally announced that its 7nm technology is ready for customer engagement with product tape outs expected for the first half of 2018. The global semiconductor company, headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., says the process node offers a 40 percent performance improvement over its 14nm node, a 60 percent power reduction, and at least a 30 percent die cost reduction.

The platform integrates 17 million gates per square millimeter, over a 50 percent scaling off of 14nm. GlobalFoundries Chief Technology Officer Gary Patton noted, “Because of the need for multi patterning on these nodes, the complexity is increasing more than it has done historically. We scale a little bit more than 50 percent so when we add the higher complexity we still end up at the right point for our customers, which is at least a 30 percent die cost improvement and for some products maybe as much as 45 percent cost improvement.”

High performance computing, graphics, and networking are key areas for initial products, as are custom silicon plays. “We’re seeing a lot of push from some new players in the fabless space in the area of artificial intelligence and machine learning and they are very focused on leveraging the ASIC platform for those products.” Like Google TPUs perhaps.

GlobalFoundries has the technology to make chips up to 780 mm². Its smallest 14nm chips are around 50 mm² and some go as high as 700 mm² and it expects the same range to apply to 7nm as well.

The process design kit (PDK) is now available for GlobalFoundries 7LP FinFET and FX-7 ASIC. (Source: GlobalFoundries slide deck)

The lack of a 10nm node on GlobalFoundries’ roadmap was strategic, a response to customer input. “I don’t personally view it as skipping a node,” said Patton, “because if you look at the density of that 10nm and performance that it offers it’s more like a half node. Our customers wanted a stronger value proposition. We made a decision two years ago to just focus on 7nm and that’s allowed us to get this offering out at this time.”

Patton views 20nm and 10nm as “weak nodes;” in contrast he sees 14nm and 7nm as having long-term staying power. GlobalFoundries has invested $12 billion in the Malta “Fab 8” factory, and is still expanding going into 2018 to support its 14nm manufacturing ramp. Having a high-yield manufacturing base on 14nm makes the development on 7nm much easier, said Patton. They’ve had over 50 designs in 14nm, and have had 100 percent first-time success on every product tape out on 14nm at the factory, according to Patton.

The 7nm process technology heads for prime time just two years after it was introduced by the IBM Research alliance which includes GlobalFoundries and Samsung. The original proof of concept chip was manufactured with extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV), but initial products will go forward using optical lithography. This probably won’t be a surprise to those familiar with EUV’s uphill climb toward commercial viability.

EUV is progressing, said Patton, but it’s not ready for high-volume commercial production. Not wanting to hold back its customers, GlobalFoundries is launching 7nm with conventional immersion lithography and has designed the technology to be drop-in compliant with EUV. Patton expects EUV versions will be ready a year after the initial product launches – pushing that EUV goalpost into 2019.

Patton, who was with IBM for 30 years and led IBM’s semiconductor research & development organization for the last eight before the chip manufacturing business was sold to GlobalFoundries in July 2015, reviews some of the benefits EUV offers through simplification of the process. “It allows us to take some masks out, which will improve the cycle time. We can take some processing steps out which will help — the more you process wafers, the more defects you introduce, so that will give a yield advantage. We see much better line edge control with EUV and that will give some improvement in the sharpness of the features, which will give parametric advantage,” he said.

Globalfoundries Fab 8 campus in Malta, New York, has two EUV scanners arriving in 2017 and two more are scheduled for delivery in 2018. Patton says that he is encouraged by the progress that has been made on EUV, but relays four key challenge areas relating to the light source, the toolset, the resist and the mask.

Aerial view of Fab 8 in Malta, N.Y. (Source: GlobalFoundries)

“A lot of good work is being done at ASML, as well as places like IMEC, on improving mask defects, developing pellicles that would mitigate some of the defect issues, but the key challenge is being able to do that in a way that’s reliable and can withstand the high-power that’s coming out of the EUV light source – so that’s probably the long pole of the tent so to speak in getting EUV ready, but there’s good progress. We’re expecting EUV will be ready for high volume manufacturing in the 2019 timeframe and we’ll be in a position to support.”

The big takeaway is that 7nm is here and it’s on time, said Jim McGregor, founder of Tirias Research, in an interview with HPCwire. “You have to remember that on the last major process node, the 14nm, GlobalFoundries was late. It had to partner with Samsung to get moving. Since then they’ve acquired the semiconductor group from IBM and these are a lot of the same experts that developed the latest technology for the past 20 years and have really led the consortium around IBM to develop to process technologies. Now we’re seeing GlobalFoundries that was kind of trailing company in terms of rolling out new process technology moving to the forefront of being one of the leaders in rolling out new process technology.”

Synergy between IBM and GlobalFoundries was likewise emphasized by Patton. “A key part of the IBM acquisition was we take over the manufacturing of the parts, which is I think is a more efficient situation for IBM because the IBM server volumes are small,” he told us. “So we take on the manufacturing investment; we do some special things for them to make sure the technology meets their server requirements. In exchange they committed for ten years to do what they do very well, which is the fundamental research on how to keep the technology moving forward. So they continue to do the research in the IBM Watson Research Center and that pipeline of innovation flows into the Albany NanoTech center, where we do the pathfinding and determine what elements are ready for development to keep extending technology either through scaling or other creative ways.”

Moore’s law may be slowing, but it isn’t dead yet in Patton’s view. GlobalFoundries is actively investigating next-generation semiconductor technologies, such as nanowires and vertical transistors, with alliance partners IBM and Samsung at the State University of New York (SUNY) Albany NanoTech Complex, located about 30 miles south of the Fab 8 facility. You can see the fruits of their nanowire efforts in the 5nm test chip that was unveiled last week.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Geospatial Data Research Leverages GPUs

August 17, 2017

MapD Technologies, the GPU-accelerated database specialist, said it is working with university researchers on leveraging graphics processors to advance geospatial analytics. The San Francisco-based company is collabor Read more…

By George Leopold

Intel, NERSC and University Partners Launch New Big Data Center

August 17, 2017

A collaboration between the Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), Intel and five Intel Parallel Computing Centers (IPCCs) has resulted in a new Big Data Center (BDC) that Read more…

By Linda Barney

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last week the cloud giant released deeplearn.js as part of that in Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Leveraging Deep Learning for Fraud Detection

Advancements in computing technologies and the expanding use of e-commerce platforms have dramatically increased the risk of fraud for financial services companies and their customers. Read more…

Spoiler Alert: Glimpse Next Week’s Solar Eclipse Via Simulation from TACC, SDSC, and NASA

August 17, 2017

Can’t wait to see next week’s solar eclipse? You can at least catch glimpses of what scientists expect it will look like. A team from Predictive Science Inc. (PSI), based in San Diego, working with Stampede2 at the Read more…

By John Russell

Microsoft Bolsters Azure With Cloud HPC Deal

August 15, 2017

Microsoft has acquired cloud computing software vendor Cycle Computing in a move designed to bring orchestration tools along with high-end computing access capabilities to the cloud. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Ships Supercomputer to Space Station, Final Destination Mars

August 14, 2017

With a manned mission to Mars on the horizon, the demand for space-based supercomputing is at hand. Today HPE and NASA sent the first off-the-shelf HPC system i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD EPYC Video Takes Aim at Intel’s Broadwell

August 14, 2017

Let the benchmarking begin. Last week, AMD posted a YouTube video in which one of its EPYC-based systems outperformed a ‘comparable’ Intel Broadwell-based s Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Thrives in Cancer Moonshot

August 8, 2017

The U.S. War on Cancer, certainly a worthy cause, is a collection of programs stretching back more than 40 years and abiding under many banners. The latest is t Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Raises the Bar for Distributed Deep Learning

August 8, 2017

IBM is announcing today an enhancement to its PowerAI software platform aimed at facilitating the practical scaling of AI models on today’s fastest GPUs. Scal Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Storage Breakthrough Paves Way for 330TB Tape Cartridges

August 3, 2017

IBM announced yesterday a new record for magnetic tape storage that it says will keep tape storage density on a Moore's law-like path far into the next decade. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Stuffs a Petaflops of Machine Intelligence into 20-Node Rack

August 1, 2017

With its Radeon “Vega” Instinct datacenter GPUs and EPYC “Naples” server chips entering the market this summer, AMD has positioned itself for a two-head Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Clears Path to 5nm with Silicon Nanosheets

June 5, 2017

Two years since announcing the industry’s first 7nm node test chip, IBM and its research alliance partners GlobalFoundries and Samsung have developed a proces Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This