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Chips that Rip SiGe Activates the Next Generation of Broadband Communication Devices
New broadband communication applications and • Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) switches devices promise much. To fulfill their promise, • Passive Optical Network (PON) manufacturers must find integrated circuit (IC) technology • Smart ATM+Internet Protocol (IP) networking that continues to push performance higher while driving switches, routers and access concentrators total cost per gigabit lower. Broadband communication has • unique characteristics that are fast pushing traditional High–speed optical switches and terabit routers CMOS technology to its limit. The race is on to find new • Gigabit Ethernet links materials that will deliver high performance for • Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) high–frequency applications while maintaining the metro–area equipment manufacturability and price point required for • 3G Wireless voice and data networks cost–effective mass production. Several new materials • Point–to–Point Microwave Communications show promise. Gallium arsenide (GaAs), indium Equipment phosphide (InP), and silicon germanium (SiGe) materials • Storage Area Network (SAN) solutions deliver significant performance advantages over CMOS. • ON Semiconductor has carefully evaluated the benefits of Network Attached Storage Equipment each and selected SiGe for its next generation of broadband Not Just Any Chips communication ICs. With ultra–low noise performance, solid speed and power characteristics, ease of The steeply rising broadband equipment market, multi–channel integration and wide support for traditional therefore, results in projectile estimates for broadband silicon processing techniques – ON Semiconductor integrated circuits (ICs). Not just any ICs, however. As believes that the best choice for next–generation demand for communication speed and distance intensifies, broadband IC products is SiGe. so does the need for new semiconductor materials that can cost–effectively meet the unique demands of broadband Keeping Talk Cheap – The Market for Low–Cost, communication devices. High–Functionality Communication ICs Stand near any airport arrival gate or baggage claim area 9000 and you’ll see the future before your eyes. Wireless phones 8000 sprout from pockets like weeds after a spring rain. Wildfire adoption of wireless and optical communication 7000 technologies is driving demand for new chip capabilities. 6000 Broadband applications that can put data, voice and 5000 high–bandwidth, delay–sensitive services like videoconferencing into the palm of a hand need gigahertz 4000 Internet speeds and miniscule footprints. 3000 ICs Demand for applications and services naturally creates in Millions (USD) Sales a market for devices that can deliver them. Networking 2000 equipment manufacturers are pitted against each other to 1000 deliver more bandwidth through a dizzying range of core 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000E 2001E and access networking products, including: • Source: Salomon Smith Barney Various Digital Subscriber Line (xDSL) systems Figure 1. Internet IC Sales • Cable modems
Semiconductor Components Industries, LLC, 2001 1 Publication Order Number: May, 2001 – Rev. 0 AND8068/D AND8068/D
One such unique demand is high scalability. While device can be recouped over a large installation or many today’s conventional Complementary Metal–Oxide users. A second drawback of GaAs is that it is a bit finicky. Semiconductors (CMOSs) aren’t going away anytime It is not conducive to applications that require high levels soon, they do have limits. As networked communication of integration to combining multiple functionality on a technologies, such as Synchronous Optical Network single chip. Finally, the thermal properties of GaAs are (SONET), push data transport speeds toward 40 gigabits three times worse than traditional silicon, so heat removal per second (Gbps), CMOS can’t keep up. In fact, according can be a challenge. Therefore, for broadband to the Semiconductor Industry Association of San Jose, communication that requires multiservice capabilities, Calif., within the next ten to twelve years, most known GaAs is not the best choice. semiconductor technologies will be approaching – or will have reached – their limits. Indium Phosphide–Small and Super–sensitive In addition to having high scalability, broadband Ultra–high speed and highly sensitive at detecting and communication ICs must minimize noise and distortion emitting light–indium phosphide (InP) will be used for levels that interfere with radio frequency (RF) high–performance applications. These applications will be transmission, reception, and reliability. To assure high found in 40 Gbps fiber–optic systems and high–frequency performance at high speeds, ICs for broadband must also transceivers. InP is expensive, making it impractical for be reliable – that is, they must be able to resist degradation large–scale applications. It also presents manufacturing over time. Finally, they must be manufacturable. challenges. Too–fragile materials result in high defect rates and low Today, InP substrates are smaller than conventional cost–effectiveness. Too–temperamental materials limit the CMOS substrates, which means they require special number of functions that can be integrated on a chip. fabrication processes and yield significantly less usable Ideally, broadband communication ICs must be robust material per wafer. Their high sensitivity also has a enough for standard CMOS fabrication and able to negative side – InP compounds must be highly precise in integrate with existing CMOS circuits. composition, and like other III–V materials, the wafers are extremely fragile. InP compounds that vary even slightly New Materials. New Options. New Trade–Offs. compromise reliability. And small fragile wafers Conventional CMOS devices have been the subject of significantly limit production yields – contributing to their research and development for almost 50 years. Today, they already higher cost. TRW recently has announced the first are the workhorse ICs found in virtually every computing high–volume production line for InP fabrication, which device made. Easy to manufacture with standard fab may ease the manufacturing issues for OEM customers, but processes and highly cost–effective, CMOS will remain the there is still much work to be done to approach the cost mainstay for many applications. However, communication effectiveness and reliability of CMOS. requirements for RF or efficient light–emitting properties spurred research into new materials and combinations. Silicon Germanium–Broadband’s Best Bet These new combinations are formed from elements found Silicon germanium (SiGe) represents the best balance of in columns III and V of the periodic table, hence they are cost, performance, manufacturability and power manage– known as III–V compounds. Two examples are gallium ment requirements for broadband communication arsenide (GaAs) and indium phosphide (InP). New applications. ON Semiconductor is leveraging the semiconductor manufacturing processes also enable new material’s properties to deliver the next generation of materials to be layered onto existing semiconductor broadband communication ICs. crystals, which are usually silicon. SiGe is less costly than either InP or GaAs while The three most common compounds in usage today are delivering comparable – or better – speed and scalability. GaAs, InP, and SiGe. Each has its advantages. Each also By layering germanium into a silicon transistor, has associated drawbacks that may limit use for certain manufacturers can dramatically improve an IC’s operating types of applications. frequency, current, noise and power capabilities. SiGe enables data rates today above 10 GHz and is expected to Gallium Arsenide – Fast but Finicky increase its range well beyond that within two years. High–speed gallium arsenide (GaAs) is already used in At the same time, SiGe is also noted for its low–noise power amplifiers and switches for certain wireless characteristics that result in very little distortion. applications, such as satellite communication and wireless High–frequency capabilities with low noise make SiGe local area networks (LANs). GaAs also is suited for line ideal for wireless and optical networking communications amplifiers in cable TV infrastructure, cable modems, and systems and devices such as Transimpedance Amplifiers. set–top boxes. Its RF characteristics ensure that GaAs SiGe can be integrated on Bi–CMOS process maintains its reliability as wireless devices move to high technologies. This allows the integration of high–speed frequencies (1.8/1.9 GHz). However, the high cost of GaAs SiGe transistors and high density CMOS on the same chip make it more suitable for niche applications such as – thus enabling the system engineer to integrate powerful antenna switches and power amplifiers where the cost per
http://onsemi.com 2 AND8068/D new circuits that deliver expanded functionality on GigaComm Technology ever–shrinking board space. ON Semiconductor’s GigaComm ICs product family requires smaller board areas, has better thermal response Other Possibilities and higher–frequency performance and is in lower–profile There is also a wide range of other inorganic compounds packaging. It supports the following: used, but not commonly. These include silicon carbide, • 40 ps typical rise and fall times gallium nitride, and cadmium sulfide and others. • Higher channel densities – up to 12 Gbps operation Compound semiconductors made of three elements have • also been tested for broadband communication Operating voltage range of 2.375 to 3.6 with minimal applications, but lack the strong combination of power dissipation over frequency manufacturability, reliability and scalability that make • Low power consumption – 25 mA differential receiver them good options for wireless–communication • Any level input structure to accept LVDS, PECL, applications. CML and single–ended CMOS
Putting SiGe into Action GigaComm products are the first SiGe–based products ON Semiconductor selected SiGe for its next generation that support next–generation high–speed communications of broadband communication IC products. As a market applications for clock distribution, multiplexing, leader in clock management and high performance digital translation and specific applications such as laser drivers. products, ON Semiconductor is the preferred supplier to The Road to the Future is Paved with SiGe the world’s leading communication equipment companies including Alcatel, Cisco Systems, Nortel and Sun. SiGe Broadband communication applications are today’s technology enables the company to extend its expertise applications. As market demand pushes semiconductor into OC–192 and beyond. technology into barely explored territory, one thing is ON Semiconductor is the first company to deliver certain – manufacturers today must have access to ICs that this class of SiGe–based products to customers. can begin delivering on the promise of wireless and optical GigaCommt combines SiGe process technology with technologies while still leveraging the industry learning ON Semiconductor’s low–skew design expertise and curves and expertise in silicon manufacturing processes. innovative packaging to support the next generation of SiGe–based ICs meet both of those requirements. SiGe ultra–high speed communications. GigaComm products products from ON Semiconductor add further value with support application–specific solutions for optical low jitter/low skew features and minimal power networking, cross connects and high–speed serial consumption to give manufacturers a jump–start in backplane interfaces that are ideal for OC–192, Gigabit fast–moving markets. Ethernet, 10–Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel and Very For more information about its GigaComm products or Short Reach (VSR) intraconnect applications. SiGe technology, visit the ON Semiconductor web site at http://onsemi.com/gigacomm .
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