TSMC Unveils Industry's First Viable 25 Nanometer Transistors

SAN JOSE, California December 11, 2002 – Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (NYSE: TSM) today demonstrated the industry’s first 25 nanometer transistor to operate within the power and performance specifications outlined by the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS). Operating on just 0.7 volts of power, the newly designed FinFET is the first 25nm CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) transistor to break through critical power barriers, meeting ITRS targets for high-performance operation at this advanced node.

Standard CMOS is the dominant IC technology today, consuming much less power in end applications than alternative technologies. This breakthrough indicates that CMOS technology could continue to scale to smaller geometries and higher performance for years to come. With this announcement, TSMC also becomes the first semiconductor company to demonstrate a low-voltage CMOS that integrates both 25nm N- and P-type transistors on the same chip. Using these CMOS devices, TSMC has also produced functional SRAM cells.

The innovation is based on a new transistor design called the FinFET because the transistors have the shape of tiny fish fins. TSMC’s new FinFET version is known as the "Omega FinFET", because the gate “wraps” around the silicon material that makes up the source and drain for each gate, creating a structure similar to the Greek character, Omega (W). Because of its novel design, the Omega FinFET operating at 0.7 volts nevertheless achieves a gate delay of 0.39 ps for the N-transistor and 0.88 ps for the P-transistor, making them among the fastest devices ever reported at this gate length.

“Semiconductor technology is advancing at a rapid pace. To meet aggressive new transistor performance targets, many research efforts have turned to higher voltages and larger leakage than the Roadmap targets,” said Dr. Chenming Hu, TSMC’s chief technology officer. “Unfortunately, these compromises shorten the battery life and create heat removal problems. Our FinFET design successfully achieves targets for high speed, low voltage and low leakage, thereby satisfying the low power requirements of the ITRS roadmap and the application space of tomorrow.”

TSMC’s FinFET was fabricated with TSMC's standard production equipment and materials. Just as important, the development demonstrates a way to increase speed as well as control leakage and power, a challenge that has been the leading barrier to the development of advanced system-on-chip technology.

The ITRS roadmap is a technology guideline jointly developed by all the major semiconductor companies and their support industries. According to at roadmap, the industry should introduce 25nm transistors in 2007. The next step will be to refine the manufacturing techniques for producing these devices in high volume.