Samsung Electronics, a world leader in advanced semiconductor technology has introduced a new radio frequency (RF) foundry technology based on the 8-nanometer (nm) process. This cutting-edge foundry technology is expected to provide a “one-chip solution,” specifically for 5G communications with support for multi-channel and multi-antenna chip designs. Samsung’s 8 nm RF platform extension is expected to expand the company’s leadership in the 5G semiconductor market from sub-6 GHz to mmWave applications.
Samsung’s 8nm RF process technology is the latest addition to an already broad portfolio of RF-related solutions, including 28 nm and 14 nm-based RF. The company has established its RF market leadership through the shipping of more than 500 million mobile RF chips for premium smartphones since 2017.
“Through excellence in innovation and process manufacturing, we’ve reinforced our next-generation wireless communication offerings,” said Hyung Jin Lee, Master of Foundry Technology Development Team at Samsung Electronics. “As 5G mmWave expands, Samsung’s 8 nm RF will be a great solution for customers looking for long battery life and excellent signal quality on compact mobile devices.”
Samsung’s New RFeFET Architecture
With continued scaling to advanced nodes, digital circuits have improved significantly in performance, power consumption, and area (PPA), whereas the analog/RF blocks haven’t enjoyed such an improvement due to degenerative parasitics such as increased resistance from narrow line width. As a result, most communications chips tend to see degraded RF characteristics such as deteriorated amplification performance of reception frequency and increased power consumption.
To overcome the analog/RF scaling challenges, Samsung has developed a unique architecture exclusive to 8nm RF named RFextremeFET (RFeFET) that can significantly improve RF characteristics while using less power. In comparison to 14 nm RF, Samsung’s RFeFET supplements the digital PPA scaling and restores the analog/RF scaling at the same time, thereby enabling high-performance 5G platforms.
Samsung’s process optimization maximizes channel mobility while minimizing parasitics. As the performance of RFeFET is greatly improved, the total number of transistors of RF chips and the area of analog/RF blocks can be reduced.
Compared to 14 nm RF, Samsung’s 8nm RF process technology provides up to a 35-percent increase in power efficiency with a 35-percent decrease in the RF chip area as a result of the RFeFET architectural innovation.
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