Specialty foundry TowerJazz (TJ) is ramping a 65 nm version of its RF-SOI process on 300 mm wafers at Fab 7 in Uozu, Japan. To support the ramp, the company has signed a contract with long-term partner, Soitec, guaranteeing a supply of tens of thousands of 300 mm SOI silicon wafers, securing wafer prices for the next years and ensuring supply to its customers, despite a tight SOI wafer market.
Five of TJ’s seven fabs do RF-SOI. LNA (low-noise amplifers) are a big market driver, and with RF-SOI they can integrate the LNA with the switch, CEO Russell Ellwanter said in his lead keynote at the SOI Consortium’s 5th International RF-SOI Workshop in Shanghai. He credited his company’s close relationship with RF-SOI wafer-supplier Soitec for TJ’s claim to the world’s best linearity.
“We are delighted to see the strong adoption of 300 mm RF SOI through this large capacity and supply agreement with TowerJazz to augment our already significant 200 mm RF-SOI partnership,” said Soitec CEO Paul Boudre. “TowerJazz was the first foundry to ramp our RFeSI products to high volume production in 200 mm and continues as one of the industry leaders in innovation in this exciting RF market with advanced and differentiated offerings.”
According to the TJ press release, with its best in class metrics the TowerJazz 65 nm RF-SOI process enables the combination of low insertion loss and high-power handling RF switches with options for high-performance low-noise amplifiers as well as digital integration. The process can reduce losses in an RF switch improving battery life and boosting data rates in handsets and IoT terminals.
It is a high-growth market, to be sure. Market researchers Mobile Experts predict that the mobile RF front-end market will reach $22 billion in 2022 from an estimated $16 billion in 2018. TowerJazz says its breakthrough RF SOI technology continues to support this high-growth market and is well-poised to take advantage of next-generation 5G standards, which will boost data rates and provide further content growth opportunities in the coming years.
Customers are already getting into position. For example, Maxscend (WuXi, China), a provider of RF components and IoT integrated circuits, is ramping in this new technology. “We chose TowerJazz for its advanced technology capabilities and its ability to deliver in high volume while continuously innovating with a strong roadmap. We specifically selected its 30 0mm 65 nm RF SOI platform for our next-generation product line due to its superior performance, enabling low insertion loss and high power handling,” said Maxscend CEO Zhihan Xu.