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ST-Ericsson NovaThor SoCs for future Windows Phones from Nokia

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Core information:

Updates: STMicroelectronics’ COO Presents at UBS Global Technology and Services Conference – Conference Call Transcript Q&A [Seeking Alpha, Nov 24, 2011]

Gareth Jenkins

Okay. Before we come on to some of the shorter term questions, I was just wondering whether you could give us an update on the 300 million millimeter development in Crolles and where we’re at?

Didier Lamouche

So we are—to recall, the main manufacturing node at Crolles is 40 nanometer. We are, as you know, engaged deeply with our friends in IBM from here in Fishkill – IBM global foundry, Samsung to developing the next generation node. We will introduce in 2012 28 nanometer. The first chip that we will put on the market will be designed for ST-Ericsson, advanced processor and advanced modem in 28 nanometer, and we are working to get qualified and start to ramp in 20 nanometer end of next year, okay, also on those type of products. On 28 nanometer, we have other of our customer also interested by our technology in the communication infrastructure customers. A big customer from the U.S. west coast interested to our product that we will ramp out of Crolles, but not only out of Crolles – also at our foundry partners. The strategy we have on the advanced DLSI technology manufacturing is basically to manufacture one-third internally out of Crolles and two-thirds at foundry partners, and of course our preferred foundry partners are the ones who are together with us developing the base technology with IBM in Fishkill, so Samsung and Global Foundry. So that’s where we are at the moment.

Second, another key vehicle for the loading and the manufacturing in Crolles is our also imaging technology and products, which is pretty healthy at the moment.

Unidentified Analyst

Hi there. ST-Ericsson, I often get a lot of questions on this in terms of the underperformance. Is there a time frame in the Board’s mind about sort of when it has to achieve a turnaround within the business before a different strategic view is taken of it?

Didier Lamouche

Okay, thank you for the question. I got the question a hundred times already. No, I mean, you know our strategy and our difficulties in ST-Ericsson. I’m not going to repeat again. This is a company first, the difficulty is that it’s a merger of three companies, you have to remember, that we started in 2008; and I think it was visionary at the time because we needed to create some scale and we needed to go from a model where one company was basically serving one customer to a model where we are serving multiple customers with one platform. And I’m glad to see that many of our competitors are following that path today when you see – not to name them – but Intel acquiring Infineon and Broadcom acquiring modem company—I mean—

Tait Sorensen

LTE.

Didier Lamouche

Yes. So clearly, we have done it before, so we were at that point ahead of the curve, let’s say. And it’s not easy to integrate companies together, I tell you, and essentially to streamline and form a product portfolio, and going from an ASIC to a platform model. It’s not easy. So I’m not saying we are smarter than anybody, but certainly I don’t think it will be easier for anybody else to integrate. So that’s one.

Second, clearly we were expecting to turn around faster. We’ve since now a few months we have taken additional burden in the fact that our main customer, as you know, has really lost ground rapidly in the market share – not to name them, Nokia – we don’t even report their—starting last quarter, they fell obviously below 10% of our revenue because we don’t report their share anymore of our revenue, so that tells a lot. So that has increased our level of pain, and that explains a bit why clearly it is taking much longer than what we planned.

Now going specifically to your questions, we are not ready to accept to lose $200 million a quarter for an additional five, six, seven, eight quarters. We are not. We are not. But at the same time, we have not set a date by which we say, okay, by—I don’t know, such a date we pull the plug or we do anything brutal if things are not—no. We are not in that mindset. We are in the mindset where we have a plan in place and we trigger each action of the plan depending on what is the situation. For example, last June we have decided to put in place an additional restructuring plan that was not even foreseen three months before. Why we did that? Simply because we felt that we were not meeting the roadmap that we had set to ourselves and we need to do something else. Second example is the IP licensing that we advertise in Q3, I mean last month; so we licensed some of our technology to a player on the market. That was not planned three months ago, and we decided to do that simply because we felt we needed to bring more cash in the company. So we have a series of actions – I’m not going to tell you which ones, you will see – potential actions in place that we are going to trigger, but clearly to be a bit more precise in my answer, 2012 will be a crucial year for ST-Ericsson. 2012 is the year where it needs to happen.

STMicroelectronics’ CEO Discusses Q3 2011 Results – Earnings Call Transcript Q&A [Seeking Alpha, Oct 26, 2011]

Jerome Ramel – Exane BNP Paribas

Yeah, yeah. And may be just follow-up on capacity utilization rates specifically for Crolles 300 millimeter and would have an idea where you are today?

Philippe Lambinet

I don’t think we give Jerome we give information fab-by-fab. Clearly, the utilization is not the best, especially due to the weakness we see with ST-Ericsson and products. But, going forward I’m sure you capture the fact that ST-Ericsson has won a key design win with HTC recently, which is obviously a product which will be manufactured in – is manufactured in Crolles the 300 millimeter.

Second point is also, our Imaging product line if you look to our numbers is doing pretty well and this is the key product which is also manufactured over there. And today, without giving you a specific numbers, this is not the factory where we suffer the most, which is for the future good news because obviously this is the future products and product for future business which are manufacture over there.

European Commission nods support to STMicroelectronics’ R&D [Deb 6, 2009]

After much deliberation, the European Commission decided to allow France to grant financial support of 457 million euros to the Nano2012 R&D program in Crolles, France. Nano2012 aims at developing the next-generation process technology for many semiconductor applications. They have yet to pick a site and break ground, but they have lots of fellow collaborators like CETA-Leti, and the money is beginning to roll.

Mentor Graphics Announces Completion of 20 nm Test Chip Tapeout with STMicroelectronics Using Olympus-SoC Place and Route System [Nov 4, 2011]

“Increased process complexity and variability, lithography limitations, large design sizes and extreme low power add to the IC design challenges at 20 nm,” said Philippe Magarshack, group vice president at STMicroelectronics Technology Research and Development. “Through the ISDA and the DeCADE joint development program, we are working very closely with Mentor Graphics on various aspects of 20 nm design enablement. We are pleased with the Olympus-SoC integrated platform’s ability to deliver a 20 nm place and route solution with high quality of results, which we recently demonstrated on a 20 nm test chip tapeout. We consider this to be a significant milestone toward demonstrating our 20 nm readiness.”

About DeCADE

The joint-development project named DeCADE builds on advanced design solutions for SoC (System-On-Chip) development. DeCADE reinforces the Crolles cooperative R&D cluster, which gathers partners that develop and enable low-power SoCs and value-added application-specific technologies, and is a great example of a project developed within the framework of the Nano2012 program. Nano2012 is a strategic R&D program, led by STMicroelectronics, which gathers research institutes and industrial partners and is supported by French national, regional and local authorities

ST: FD-SOI for Competitive SOCs at 28nm and Beyond [Nov 18, 2011]

STMicroelectronics sees its flavor of planar FD-SOI as an excellent response to the complex needs of mobile multimedia chips.

The multi-functional system-on-chips (SOC) needed at the heart of the next generations of wireless, high-performance, low-power multimedia devices have very different needs than the mono-functional processors of the past. Traditionally, the trade-off for computers and servers has been accepting high operational voltages (Vdd) and high stand-by leakage in return for high-performance. This is obviously not an acceptable trade-off for mobile internet devices.

In a mobile world, high-performance must go hand-in-hand with low-operation Vdd and low stand-by leakage. That requires different technologies. As we approach the 20/22nm node and beyond, traditional planar-bulk technologies cannot meet these requirements. The choice comes down to either a planar fully-depleted (FD) SOI solution or a FinFET solution. At STMicroelectronics, we call our flavor of planar FD-SOI UTBB, for ultra-thin body & box. As such, it leverages SOI wafers with both ultra-thin top silicon and ultra-thin buried oxide (BOX). Where more practical, we use a hybrid SOI/bulk configuration, wherein certain devices are placed in the bulk silicon that has been exposed by etching back the insulating BOX layer.

The results we’ve obtained make UTBB a compelling option.

Designing a good SOC involves using the right blend of low-, standard- and high-threshold-voltage (Vth) devices according to the target application and how it’s being used at any given time. Our FD-SOI technology can handle multiple Vth devices and I/Os through a cost effective approach, solving challenges for low-power operation (LOP), low-standby power (LSTP) and analog and high-performance (HP) needs.

UTBB at 28nm

ST’s UTTB technology may be a good candidate even for the 28nm node, as it would provide a boost in speed before 20nm bulk technology is ready. Therefore, we have explored an industrial solution for its implementation.

Straightforward Move to 28nm

ST has been working on FD-SOI for over 10 years. We have research programs or partnerships on 3 sites : Crolles, Leti, and IBM Albany NanoTech. We have collaborated with Soitec for wafer supply.

The key technology elements for UTBB have been demonstrated.

The move from R&D to an industrial process of 28nm FD-SOI technology is for us (and for our partners) an efficient and straightforward response to the world-wide competition. The extension of FD-SOI towards the 20nm and 14nm nodes is also in preparation with new boosters to further increase the performance growth rate.

UTBB FD-SOI promises to give STMicroelectronics a significant edge in both the near term and for years to come.

ST-Ericsson board of directors appoints Didier Lamouche as president and CEO [Nov 28, 2011]

Lamouche, chief operating officer of STMicroelectronics [since January 2011], has served on the board of ST-Ericsson since April 2011 and brings more than twenty-five years of IT and semiconductor industry experience to the role.

Lamouche replaces Gilles Delfassy [only 4 years older] after the transformation of the company’s portfolio roadmap from legacy feature phone products to leading smartphone and tablet platforms. The Company now enters a phase with prime focus on proliferating design-wins and scaling up and delivering volume, with the objective of translating its new portfolio into sustainable profitability and growth.

Both parent companies, STMicroelectronics and Ericsson, are committed to the 50/50 joint venture and will continue to support its strategy towards industry leadership and sustainable financial return. ST-Ericsson plays an important role in Ericsson’s end-to-end strategy in a world with 50 billion connected devices and is part of ST’s vision to be a[n undisputed] leader* in multimedia convergence applications.
*[The other part of vision is to be an undisputed leader in Sense & Power applications.]

Gilles Delfassy will support Lamouche, as senior advisor to the CEO, during a transition period. Didier Lamouche, while maintaining his title of ST Chief Operating Officer, will focus full time on leading ST-Ericsson.

ST-Ericsson Board of Directors appoints wireless expert Gilles Delfassy as President and CEO [Sept 2, 2009]

Delfassy, 54, is a highly-respected expert in the wireless industry. During his 28-year career at Texas Instruments, he created and built what would become, during that time, the largest wireless semiconductor business in the world. After his retirement from Texas Instruments in 2007, Delfassy became an advisor to many high-tech companies and has served on several corporate boards.

Didier Lamouche

Lamouche started his career in Philips R&D before joining IBM Microelectronics in 1985, where he supervised the launch of IBM-Siemens Europe’s first DRAM 8-inch semiconductor project in Corbeil-Essonnes, France. Later, after three years as director of operations at Motorola, Lamouche rejoined IBM first in the US, then in France to lead the turnaround and strategic repositioning of the Corbeil site. He subsequently architected the creation and acted as CEO of Altis Semiconductor, a joint venture between IBM and Infineon.

In 2003, Lamouche became vice-president for IBM’s worldwide semiconductor operations, based in New York, managing, among other things, the ramp-up of the company’s first 12-inch facility in Fishkill, NY, and establishing IBM’s first outsourced semiconductor operation in Asia. In 2005-2010, Lamouche served as chairman and CEO of Bull, a French-based IT group with worldwide presence. In this capacity, he succeeded in turning around the company, revamping Bull’s product portfolio towards high performance computing leadership and transforming the group into a profitable and growing IT services-and-solutions supplier.

Lamouche has served as a board member at various private (Cameca ’05 to ’07) and listed companies, Atari (’07 to ’11). From 2006 to 2010, he sat on the Supervisory Board of STMicroelectronics, where he was also a member of the Audit committee. He is currently sitting on the boards of Soitec and ADECCO.

Lamouche was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor (France) in 2010.

Didier Lamouche was born in Meknès, Morocco, in 1959. He is a graduate of the École Centrale of Lyon, France, and holds a PhD in semiconductor technology.

ST-Ericsson is a joint venture between Ericsson and STMicroelectronics, the latter being a French-Italian state-government controlled company with the following shareholder structure:

Source: Company Presentation [July 31, 2011]

The French side is as follows:
– FSI owns 79.2% of FT1CI, a holding company held together with the French Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA).
FSI on the other hand is a subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts, and controlled by it, whose accounts will be consolidated with those of Caisse des Dépôts. The FSI is 49% owned by Government of France and 51% Caisse des Depots et Consignations.
Caisse des Dépôts is a public financial institution, created by the law of 28th April 1816. Its founders gave it a statute and mode of governance which were unique in France, aimed to ensure its autonomy so that it could manage private funds requiring particular protection. Caisse des Dépôts is “under Parliament’s supervision and guarantee”.

STMicroelectronics is a global  company with US$10.3B sales and 53,000 employees in 2010. Its president and CEO is Carlo Bozotti while Lamuche as a COO controls the sales&marketing as well the manufacturing and technology R&D parts of the company. He has no role in the product groups responsible for product development and none in corporate staff functions either. Now he has full control over the Wireless business segment of STMicroelectronics while also supporting the other two segments as a COO:

Source: Company Presentation [July 31, 2011]
End of Updates

ARM DMIPS/MHz
ARM Cortex A8 ARM Cortex A9 Qualcomm Scorpion Qualcomm Krait ARM Cortex A15
DMIPS/MHz 2.0 2.5 2.1 3.3 4.0*
* There is no ARM provided official DMIPS/MHz value for A15. Unofficially it is 3.5 while the 4.0 value is for the ST-Ericsson Nova A9600 showing that a tweaked implementation  can achieve more. (See the below ST-Ericsson NovaThor announcement).

Nokia selects ST-Ericsson as supplier for future Windows Phone devices [Nov 2, 2011]

NovaThor™ platform to enable Nokia to extend Windows Phone devices to new price points and geographies

Nokia has selected ST-Ericsson as a supplier for future devices it plans to introduce based on the Windows Phone mobile platform.

“We are pleased to have been selected by Nokia as a key partner for Windows smartphones, in line with our goal to be present in all segments and major operating systems,” said Gilles Delfassy, president and CEO of ST-Ericsson. “Our NovaThor platforms continue to gain traction as they enable customers to bring great smartphones to the market.”

ST Ericsson will power the future dual core Nokia Windows Phones [Nokia Buff, Nov 2, 2011]

Dual core ARM Cortex A9 CPU with speeds upto 1.85 GHz ( Normally 1 Ghz or 1.2 Ghz ). GPU is ARM Mali 400 MP1 ( With one fragment processor ). Coming to what Nokia will use, there are two models available now, which is the ideal time to start producing/concepting these phones for the next holiday season.

ST-Ericsson NovaThor U9500 (Nova A9500) 45nm 2 x ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.2GHz ARM Mali-400 MP1 1 x 32-bit LPDDR2 Now
ST-Ericsson NovaThor U8500 45nm 2 x ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.0GHz ARM Mali-400 MP1 1 x 32-bit LPDDR2 Now

The U8500 has been available for a while now. Mostly U8500 will be the choice because we have heard the CEO talk about that much earlier, dating back to February. As you can see, it has a dual core A9 1 GHz processor and Mali 400 GPU. Which is great, now. But we are looking at the future, and hence “meh!”. For comparison sake, we can take the hardware flagship smartphone – the Galaxy S2 which has a dual core A9 1.2 GHz processor and Mali 400 – MP4 ( Four fragment processors ). It was launched way back, and still has more GPU horse power than the “yet to be used” U8500. If you think the U8500 is lame, then check out the newer U9500, which still has the same GPU.

Why i am clobbering for more GPU power is simple, Nokia and Windows Phone have the opportunity to make a great XBOX phone, and if the GPU is better than the GPU on xbox 360, the phone will be able to run those games flawlessly. However, the Mali GPU is good enough for the present crop of graphic intensive mobile games, but developers are always hungry for more exploits from the hardware.

Ok, do not lose hope because there is more in the NovaThor pipeline, namely –

ST-Ericsson NovaThor LP9600 (Nova A9600) 28nm 2 x ARM Cortex-A15 @ 2.5GHz IMG PowerVR Series 6 (Rogue) Dual Memory 2013 2H
2012
ST-Ericsson Novathor L9540 (Nova A9540) 32nm 2 x ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.85GHz IMG PowerVR Series 5 2 x 32-bit LPDDR2 2H
1H 2012

So, there are better SoCs coming from ST-Ericsson, but the world cannot wait. Other manufacturers will have their own improved versions. Nokia gotta act fast and choose the right SoC, so that our dream of the Nokia xbox phone *or* tablet may one day come true. Fingers crossed.

+ NovaThor U5500

ST-Ericsson NovaThor (TM) family of integrated smartphone platforms. [Feb 15, 2011]

ST-Ericsson is raising the bar for smartphone and tablet platform performance with its new Nova™ application processors, Thor™ advanced modems and range of NovaThor™ complete integrated platform solutions. ST-Ericsson’s NovaThor platforms, are based on a scalable architecture and combine application engines, modems and connectivity chipsets into fully-integrated and tested solutions. Device manufacturers can use Novathor to quickly roll out a new wave of advanced smartphones and tablets with trailblazing multimedia capabilities across all segments.

Changing the game: ST-Ericsson Unveils NovaThor™ Family of Smartphone Platforms Combining its Most Advanced Application Processors with the Latest Generation of Modems [Feb 15, 2011]

The Nova A9600, built in 28nm, will deliver groundbreaking multimedia and graphics performance, featuring a dual-core ARM Cortex- A15-based processor running up to up to 2.5 GHz breaking the 20k DMIPS barrier, and a POWERVR Rogue GPU that delivers in excess of 210 GFLOPS. The graphics performance of the A9600 will exceed 350 million ‘real’ polygons per second and more than 5 gigapixels per second visible fill rate (which given POWERVR’s deferred rendering architecture results in more than 13 gigapixels per second effective fill rate). Thanks to Rogue Nova will support all existing APIs such as Microsoft DirectX. The Nova A9600 is sampling in 2011.

The Nova A9540, built in 32nm, uses a dual-core Cortex-A9 running at up to 1.8 GHz and delivers graphics performance up to four times that of the U8500 and is sampling H2 2011.

The Nova A9500, built in 45 nm, uses a dual-core Cortex-A9 running at clock speeds of up to 1.2GHz, with Mali™ 400 improving graphics performance up to 20 percent, supporting full HD camcorder capabilities and up to 20 megapixel cameras. It is sampling and in design with ST-Ericsson customers today.

The Thor M7400 can connect to 2G, 3G, TD-SCDMA, HSPA, HSPA+ dual carrier and LTE FDD/TDD networks. It offers peak download speeds of up to 100Mbps in LTE networks. The Thor M7400 supports voice calls via fallback to circuit-switched networks and via the VoLTE (Voice over LTE) standard, it is sampling Q2 2011.

The Thor M7300 is a multimode HSPA+ modem supporting speeds of up to 84Mbps and is sampling Q2 2011.

The NovaThor U9500 is a complete platform combining Thor M5730 with A9500 and is sampling now.

The NovaThor T5008 platform combines a TD-HSPA+ modem with dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 and Mali 400 graphics. It supports full HD camcorder capabilities and up to 20 megapixel cameras and is sampling Q2 2011.

The NovaThor U5500 platform combines a powerful Cortex-A9 application processor with a HSPA+ modem. It supports DVD-quality camcorder capabilities and 8 12 megapixel cameras and samples in 1H 2011.

ST-ERICSSON – MAKING MOBILE PHONES SMARTER AND SMARTER [Sept 23, 2011]

HIGH-DEFINITION HANDSETS

At the high-end of the mobile device market, consumers are looking for a highly-engaging and immersive web multimedia experience associated with advanced consumer electronics. The current wave of cutting-edge smartphones and tablet computers have built-in camcorders capable of filming in full high definition (HD) and still cameras capable of taking photos made up of 20 million pixels, as well as support for immersive, high-speed 3D games and a desktop-style web browsing experience. These capabilities are all supported by ST-Ericsson’s powerful NovaThor™ U8500, U9500 and U9540 platforms with integrated application processors, modems and connectivity. These platforms are being selected by leading manufacturers to underpin a new generation of smartphones to be launched commercially in 2011 and early 2012.

Of course, even high performance smartphones still need to have all-day battery life so that people can stay continually connected on the move without having to stop to recharge their handset. One of the most effective ways to achieve a long battery life in a high performance handset is to use low-power silicon technology coupled with smart multi-core processor architecture. ST-Ericsson’s NovaThor™ U8500 platform, for example, uses a very power-efficient dual-core architecture, which enables a handset to play 10 hours of HD video or 100 hours of music on one battery charge, when equipped with a standard 1,000mAH battery.

BRINGING SMARTPHONES TO THE MASSES

Not everyone will be able to afford or will want the most advanced handsets, so manufacturers are increasingly looking to broaden their smartphone portfolios for consumers to choose from a broad selection of models at different prices. ST-Ericsson is enabling its customers to do just this.

ST-Ericsson’s highly-integrated and very power-efficient NovaThor™ U5500 platform, for example, is designed to power affordable smartphones that deliver a no-compromise experience. The NovaThor™ U5500 offers a dual-core processor and a powerful multimedia platform that will enable consumers to enjoy high-speed navigation, web browsing, video streaming, email, WiFi, up to 12 megapixel cameras, a 720p HD camcorder and a touch screen, among other features.

MULTI-CORE PROCESSORS A STEP CHANGE IN PERFORMANCE

Multi-core processor architectures can increase the performance and power-efficiency of a smartphone or tablet computer, by splitting tasks between different processors, enabling the system to run at lower temperatures and suffer less power leakage. ST-Ericsson’s Nova™ A9600 brings over 200 percent more mobile computing performance compared to the NovaThor™ U8500 platform. It features a dual ARM Cortex-A15 with each core running up to 2.5GHz at very low power consumption thanks to very innovative power saving techniques. ST-Ericsson new Nova™ A9540 and A9500 include dual-core processors capable of running at clock speeds of 1.85GHz and 1.2GHz respectively.

28-nm in volume production, says TSMC [Oct 24, 2011]

While TSMC’s senior vice president Jason Chen noted in a press release that his firm was “first to 28-nm volume production,” Globalfoundries spokesman Jason Gorss told EE Times its high-k metal gate (HKMG) offerings had already been in production “for months.”

“Our 28-nm process is ready,” said Gorss, pointing out that Globalfoundries, unlike TSMC, had also produced wafers on the 32 nm process, with HKMG and that 28-nm was simply a shrink of that previous offering. Products on Globalfoundries’ 28-nm process would emerge sometime in 2012, Gorss noted.

AMD Still Hampered by Foundry Problems, CEO Says [Oct 27, 2011]

“Clearly we were disappointed with the yields with the 32-nm space,” said Rory Read, AMD’s chief executive officer, during a conference call with analysts. “As I mentioned… we are not out of the woods yet.”

AMD said the quarter was negatively impact by “32 nanometer yield, ramp and manufacturing issues”. “No doubt we must improve our execution,” Read said.

A spokesman with Globalfoundries said that the company is working “side by side with AMD every day” with AMD to resolve any outstanding issues. “It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on a customer’s financial results, other than to say that we continue to work with AMD to build on the successful launch of Llano and other products based on our 32/28nm HKMG technology,” the spokesman said. HKMG refers to “High-K Metal Gate” technology, which minimizes leakage current in low-power applications.

“But it is important to note that Llano is an incredibly complex product–perhaps the most complex product ever manufactured by a foundry,” the Globalfoundries spokesman said. “Yet despite all of this complexity, we are seeing continued yield improvement and we have managed to bring this HKMG technology to market well ahead of any other foundry. We are expected to ship far more HKMG volume in 2011 than all other foundries combined.”

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Announces Winners of Inaugural “Leading in Innovation” Awards [Aug 30, 2011]

Innovative Mobile Solutions

STMicroelectronics, for its technology development used in ST-Ericsson’s leading edge Nova A9600 smartphone application processor, planned for production on GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 28nm-SLP technology.

“We know GLOBALFOUNDRIES well, both as a partner in technology development through ISDA, International Semiconductor Development Alliance, and as one of our own trusted foundry partners,” said Jean-Marc Chery, Chief Technology Officer of STMicroelectronics. “The 28 nm technology portfolio from GLOBALFOUNDRIES is well-suited to manufacture the ST-Ericsson 9600 platform, enabling multi source wafer fabs for ST and ST-Ericsson platforms at the 28nm node. Over several years, ST has built an excellent working relationship with GLOBALFOUNDRIES. ST sources a wide variety of 200mm and 300mm wafer products from GLOBALFOUNDRIES, from 0.5um EEPROM for the automotive industry to leading edge application processors for wireless and we’ve found GLOBALFOUNDRIES to be an innovative, reliable and cost-effective partner, effectively complementing our strong internal manufacturing machine, and we look forward to continuing our successful relationship with them.”

ST Ericsson plants center in Silicon Valley [Sept 13, 2011]

ST Ericsson announced it has opened a small technical office in Silicon Valley as it scrambles to get ahead of the curve in the hyper competitive market for smartphone and tablet chips. It demoed its current HSPA+ products running Android here and talked about plans for LTE chips and support for Windows Phone software in the coming year.

At the launch, ST Ericsson demoed its U8500 integrated applications processor and HSPA+ baseband running on a new board geared for software developers. The chip supported stereo 3-D graphics, 1080-progressive video playback, games with motion sensors and a browser supporting augmented reality.

The processor uses a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 with Mali 400 graphics. In demos it supported Symbian and the Gingerbread and Honeycomb versions of Android.

The company does not have demo-ready versions of its next-generation discrete LTE baseband and application processor announced in February and slated for production in mid-2012. The schedule is behind that of rival Qualcomm which is expected to supply the first LTE handsets. However, the ST Ericsson chip will support eight LTE spectrum bands on a single RF transceiver.

ST Ericsson has taped out a dual-core ARM Cortex A-15 set to ship in 2012. It will outgun rivals including the Omap 5 from Texas Instruments because the STE chip uses the Imagination Rogue graphics core, said Gilles Delfassy, chief executive of ST Ericsson and former head of TI’s wireless business unit. Due to use of a new vector-processing architecture, the chip should also have smaller size, cost and power consumption than its rivals, he added.

In software, ST Ericsson is playing catch up with the shift by Nokia, a lead customer, from Symbian to Windows Phone. It does not expect to support Nokia’s first Windows Phone 7 handsets, but it has put a team in place to support Windows Phone 8 on its chips.

“We have a road map which is very aggressive, but the key question is will we deliver on it on time,” Delfassy said.

International Data Corp. analyst Mario Morales said smartphone makers want alternatives to integrated chips from Qualcomm, and are waiting on ST Ericsson to execute on its road map.

To that end, Delfassy said he has replaced some engineers in ST Ericsson and brought on two executives with strength in product execution. One is a senior vice president from the former Infineon wireless group who worked closely with Apple; another is a former Sony Ericsson executive who has supervised groups of more than a thousand engineers.

ST Ericsson has also simplified its product portfolio, pruning five modem technologies down to just one. It was the first company to deliver a 21 Mbit/second HSPA+ modem, Delfassy said.

So far ST Ericsson is not planning any quad-core products despite the fact rivals Nvidia and Qualcomm have announced plans for such parts. “We aim to be leaders in apps processors, but there is a big debate whether quad core is a case of diminishing returns,” Delfassy said.

Exclusive : ST-Ericsson To Integrate NFC Features Into its Platforms [March 31, 2011]

ST-Ericsson’s Chief Chip Architect & Principal Fellow, Louis Tannyeres, has told ITProPortal.com in an exclusive interview that the company will integrate NFC (Near Field Communication) capabilities in its platforms alongside other connectivity functions without giving more details about a release window.

… he did mention that the Nova A9600 is the only SoC announced to feature the Imagination Technologies PowerVR Rogue GPU.

According to ST-Ericsson’s own benchmarks, Rogue is up to 20x faster than the Mali 400 GPU, which is used in the Exynos 4210 SoC that powers the Samsung Galaxy S II and which is at least as powerful than the Adreno 205 GPU found inside the Xperia Play.

In addition, Tannyeres said that samples of the Nova A9600 would be shipped to partners in the second half of 2011 with the first products based on the SoC available in the second half of 2012.

Will ST-Ericsson’s New Product Programme Do The Trick? [July 28, 2011]

Currently ST-Ericsson is moving its product line onto 45nm and is sampling three 45nm products – its 8500 platform for smartphones, its 4500 platform which is the lower-end version of the 8500, and its CG2900 Bluetooth/GPS/FM combo modem.

“We shipped the 8500 in pre-production quantities in Q2and it will be ramping up at a number of customers this year,” Gerard Cronin, STE’s head of marketing, told me yesterday, “we have engagements on the 8500 with five out of the top ten handset manufacturers.”

Before the end of this year, ST-Ericsson intends to sample its first 32nm device, the A9540 application processorbased on Cortex A-9 which is the upgrade of the 8500 with 50% higher speed.

Early in 2012 it intends to sample its first 28nm device – the A9600based on the Cortex A-15.

Asked from which foundry ST-Ericsson hopes to get 28nm from, Cronin said ST-Ericsson is part of the Globalfoundries alliance.

However, according to Mike Bryant, CTO of Future Horizons, talking at IFS 2011 earlier this month, GloFo’s 28nm process in Dresden is running with almost zero yield.

GlobalFoundries lays out roadmap for 28 nm—and beyond [Aug 31, 2011]

At the GlobalFoundries Technology Conference yesterday, GlobalFoundries executives spoke at length about the company’s roadmap and prospects. There was much rejoicing about shipments of the foundry firm’s first 32-nm, high-k metal gate (HKMG) chips—otherwise known as AMD Fusion A-series processors, or Llano—but the event really centered on manufacturing at 28 nm and smaller geometries.

First things first, GlobalFoundries revealed that its 28-nm HKMG process is “fully enabled and ready to ramp,” with ramping scheduled for 2012 at its fabs in Dresden, Germany and Malta, New York. A “lead 28nm HKMG product” has already taped out (i.e. the chip design is complete and is about to be manufactured), and GlobalFoundries has managed to produce a functional 28-nm HKMG test chip based on an ARM Cortex-A9 core. On that subject, GlobalFoundries said it expects the High Performance Plus version of its 28-nm HKMG process to enable ARM Cortex-A9 processors clocked as high as 3GHz.

… the company says demand for its manufacturing capacity currently outstrips supply—in other words, it has to expand rapidly to satisfy its customers.

That expansion involves GlobalFoundries’ new fab in upstate New York, which is purportedly ahead of schedule. Production is set to begin there next summer. GlobalFoundries also plans to build a fab in Abu Dhabi—somewhere near the airport, we were told—but a precise timeline hasn’t been settled upon yet. (The company says its schedule will depend on ramp planning in Dresden and New York as well as market conditions.) Those fabs will complement the foundry firm’s facilities in Singapore, which it inherited after the acquisition of Chartered Semiconductor.

Low Power High-k Metal Gate 28nm CMOS Solutions for Mobile High Performance Applications [GlobalFoundries, July 8, 2011]

High-k Metal Gate (HKMG) is one of the most significant iunnovations in CMOS fabrication since the inception of silicon VLSI. HKMG enables a revival in transistor scaling that had stalled with poly SiON gate technology, threatening the continuation of Moore’s law. The Joint Development Alliance and Common Platform Alliance are driving the global standard for High-k Metal Gate (HKMG). Several world-leading semiconductor companies including GLOBALFOUNDRIES, IBM, Intel Mobility Communications (ex-Infinion), Renesas, STMicroelctronics, Smasung Electronics and Toshiba have participated in the 28nm CMOS Joint Development Alliance. This HKMG solution is far superior to alternatives currently pursued by the other leading foundries, in both scalability (performance, power, die size, design compatibility) and manufacturability. This solution is a “Gate-First” approach that shares the process flow, design flexibility, design elements and benefits of all previous nodes based upon poly SiON gates.

Cost is a substantial advantage of “Gate-First” implementation; a typical foundry customer will save tens of millions of dollars over the course of their 28nm product portfolio life cycle vs. the “Gate-Last” approach due to the 10-20% smaller die size obtainable by “Gate-First.” This represenets tremendous opportunity for customers and for the industry.

“Gate-First” HKMG has already transitioned from the develeopment phase to high-volume foundry manufacturing. Notably, AMD has announced production of accelerated processing units (APUs) for laptops and desktop PCs, and CPUs for server applications based on the “Gate-First” technology. This AMD “A-Series” APU is the first foundry HKMG product to ship in the industry. Samsung and ST-Ericsson have also announced wireless products based on “Gate-First” HKMG.

28nm Super Low Power (28nm-SLP) is the low power CMOS offering delivered on a bulk silicon substrate for mobile applications. … The 28nm-SLP is a lower cost technology relative to other 28nm options, being manufactured without the stress elements used to boost carrier mobilities for 28nm poly SiON and for 28nm HKMG HP (high performance) technologies, reducing process complexity and mask count substantially.

STMicroelectronis, through its wireless JV, ST-Ericsson, is now fullfilling customers’ power and perforamce demands on the Joint Development Alliance advanced HKMG low power processes. As a case in point, ST is now sampling a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor that can run at 1.8GHz through the Nova A9540 product. The A9540 is almost 60% faster than previous 45/40nm technology products. This technology also benefits the next-generation ARM dual-core Cortex-A15 CPU which ST-Ericsson will be producing at 2.5GHz in 28nm-SLP, again for smartphone and tablet products, such as the ST-Ericsson Nova A9600 application processor.

Nova A9600


2 Comments

  1. […] Exynos site – Realizing the ARM Cortex-A15: What does the road to 2.5GHz look like? [Nov 9, 2011] – ST-Ericsson NovaThor SoCs for future Windows Phones from Nokia [Nov 3-24, 2011] (availability: 2H 2012 but at 2.5 GHz) – Not Just a Faster Horse: TI’s OMAP™ 5 […]

  2. […] also: – Windows Next: Just call it ‘Blue’? [ZDNet, Aug 13, 2012]- ST-Ericsson NovaThor SoCs for future Windows Phones from Nokia [this blog, Nov 3-24, […]

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