Planar transistors, generally 20/22nm technology or above, have been the foundation for all semiconductors for the past 50 years. Planar transistors have long reached the limits of scaling, because much better control of the off-state leakage current by the gate is required for short gate length transistors.
FinFET transistors are a quantum leap forward for scaling, performance, power efficiency and leakage. The most advanced TSMC node in production today, the N5 family, is FinFET technology. N12e is a significantly enhanced technology derived from TSMC’s 16nm FinFET technology first introduced in 2013. Through years of process development, enhancements and an innovative low power design architecture, N12e is based on the TSMC 12FFC+ technology. TSMC 16/12 nm technologies are adopted in today’s supercomputers and high-performance computing devices like GPUs and Network Processors. TSMC has further brought the brawny performance of supercomputer technology to IOT devices with N12e.
TSMC developed N12e specifically for AI-enabled IOT and other high efficiency, high performance edge devices. N12e brings TSMC’s world class FinFET transistor technology to IOT. N12e is a significantly enhanced technology derived from the lineage of TSMC’s 16nm FinFET technology first introduced in 2013. Through years of process development and enhancements, N12e is based on the TSMC 12FFC+_ULL technology. The TSMC 16/12 nm family of technologies are in today’s supercomputers and high-performance computing devices like GPUs and Network Processors. TSMC has brought this brawny performance to IOT with N12e.
Compared to TSMC’s 22ULL, N12e offers:
- 76% improvement in logic density – allowing smaller and more cost effective designs or, in the same given area, pack many more transistors for added compute cores and memory
- 49% improvement in speed at a given power – a big leap forward for IOT devices at any given power level. N12e has much higher headroom for frequency and drive power to deliver much more performance over planar technologies
- 55% improvement in power consumption at a given speed – N12e delivers a broad range of performance-to-power options allowing for use in many different product designs
- More than 50% reduction in SRAM leakage current – critical for improved battery life as well as reduced heat generation and thermal dissipation
- Low Vdd Design Ecosystem Solution – Reducing both active power and leakage power for battery-operated products. N12e can support 0.4V operation
Adapting TSMC’s 16/12 nm ultra-high performance FinFET technology for IOT products delivered the obvious performance benefits but required us to tune our recipe to deliver improved power efficiency and lower leakage. Special attention was paid to the off-state leakage characteristics.
As IOT devices evolve for the 5G and AI era, they require new fundamental semiconductor technology to support the need for faster performance, improved power efficiency and improved power leakage. While these requirements may seem at odds with each other, TSMC has been able to deliver the optimal balance with N12e. We are excited for the new class of IOT devices that 5G and AI will enable.