Xilinx Reaches FPGA Milestone

Xilinx has shipped over two million FPGA devices on 300mm wafers, creating unparalleled cost efficiencies

June 10, 2003

4 Min Read

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Xilinx continues to provide major cost advantages over competing solutions as the only FPGA vendor to deliver products based on 300mm and 90nm manufacturing technologies. Xilinx FPGAs such as the Spartan-IIE, Virtex-E, Virtex-II, and Virtex-II Pro devices are already being manufactured using UMC (NYSE: UMC) 300mm wafers, resulting in over two million cumulative devices shipped. And, the company is on track to roll out its next generation FPGA products using 90nm and 300mm manufacturing technologies, building upon a formidable competitive advantage established earlier this year with the announcement of the world's first and lowest cost 90nm programmable FPGAs - the Spartan-3 family.

UMC is playing an instrumental role in providing 300mm wafers to Xilinx. "UMC is committed to providing the advanced technology and manufacturing solutions that Xilinx requires to continue its leadership of the fast-growing, global FPGA industry," said. Fu Tai Liou, president of the America Business Group at UMC. "Xilinx and UMC have been very successful in the adoption of 90-nanometer and 300mm manufacturing technologies, and we look forward to extending our technological leadership well into the future."

According to public statements, Xilinx's nearest competitor, the number two PLD vendor, is electing to hold off migrating to 300mm and 90nm in favor of 200mm and 130nm manufacturing until the first half of 2004, giving Xilinx a one year lead in advanced manufacturing and process technologies. As such, Xilinx customers are gaining tremendous cost advantages today, while avoiding technically difficult, expensive product re-qualification from 200mm to 300mm midway through the product life cycle. No system re-qualification of Xilinx devices will be necessary since there is no process change required, as there would be if the products were first brought to production on 200mm wafers, then transitioned to newer 300mm technology later. Even when moving a chip design to the same process design rules on 300mm wafers, the result can never be exactly the same due to differences in equipment and processing steps.

In a recent announcement, the number two PLD vendor underscores the time-consuming, complex re-qualification process, informing its customers that they will receive a process change notification (PCN), qualification and reliability data, a white paper summarizing the process differences, ordering information, and a detailed production schedule when the company's 130nm device families move from 200-mm to 300-mm wafers in 2004.

Market analysts agree that the requalification process is time-consuming and complex. "The industry has been successful in the use of "copy exact" which makes it effective to transition a product from one fab line to another. However, moving from 200mm wafers to 300mm wafers there is no such thing as copy exact. This leaves the door open for process and equipment variability that can affect yield. We would expect a significant investment to convert an existing product from 200mm to 300mm wafers," said Jim Feldhan President Semico Research.

"Xilinx is aggressively taking advantage of Moore's Law to deliver the world's lowest cost FPGAs," said Rich Sevcik, senior vice president and general manager of the Programmable Logic Systems Group at Xilinx. "The faster we move to new technology, the faster we can reduce costs for our customers, while drastically increasing device densities and functionality. At the same time, by standardizing on the more cost effective 300 mm wafers, our customers will not have to endure a painful re-qualification process."

In keeping with the 2002 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, Xilinx joins other leaders in their respective industries - industry giants such as IBM, Intel, and Texas Instruments - in spearheading adoption of 90nm and 300mm manufacturing technologies. By quickly taking advantage of one of the greatest cost reductions in recent semiconductor history, these companies are further separating themselves from their competition.

Since March, 2003, Xilinx has been shipping its revolutionary Spartan-3 FPGA devices on 90nm technology from both UMC and IBM fabs. And Xilinx began an aggressive move towards 300mm wafer production in 2001. The use of 90nm process technology saves from 50 to 80 percent in die area and chip cost compared to today's 130nm technology. When combined with 300mm wafers, the number of effective die per wafer is more than 5X that of 130nm technology on 200mm wafers.

Xilinx Inc.

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