Set-top box and home gateway are application areas where STMicroelectronics has already designed ICs for implementation in the FDSOI process that it has championed in the industry, albeit with limited take-up so far.
However, the news that ST is withdrawing from those markets (see ST exits STB chip business, plans lay-offs) and will make no further designs for that sector should not be seen as a blow to prospects for FDSOI, Chery told EE Times Europe. Indeed Chery says ST is preparing to make microcontrollers on 28nm FDSOI with options on an embedded non-volatile memory still open, but with phase-change memory as a leading contender.
Jean-Marc Chery, COO of ST.
Of the re-organization that eliminated the digital products group that Chery had led, he said: "This absolutely does not impact FDSOI. What is important is that, from the first figure of merit, FDSOI can provide processor cores, usually ARM processor cores, at very low operating voltage. The second figure of merit is in RF for communications. Together this makes FDSOI perfect for the Internet of Things." He added that its radiation immunity also makes it well suited for automotive applications as well as for space and defence ICs. "It has already been announced that the EyeQ4 processor from Mobileye NV will be in FDSOI and NXP/Freescale is using FDSOI for ADAS (autonomous driver assistance systems)," he said.
Chery emphasized that, following the announcement of ST's withdrawal from STB and home gateway markets and of a proposed redeployment of 600 engineers, the company is now focused on automotive and Internet of Things applications and that therefore FDSOI is a core manufacturing process. Indeed it could be argued that moving engineers familiar with FDSOI from the STB group into MCUs and automotive will help to proliferate the technology through the company.
Next: MCUs going to 28nm FDSOI