New World Record for Silicon Chips: Infineon Researchers Achieve Breakthrough Circuit Speed for Applications from High-Speed Communications to Intelligent Car Radar
By way of comparison, silicon-based processors in CMOS used in personal computers today run with top speeds of less than 4GHz. The millimetre-wave frequencies achieved by the Infineon researchers were previously only possible with components made from gallium arsenide. Silicon, however, is significantly less expensive, can be processed using well-proven techniques, and can be combined more readily to form higher complexity integrated circuits. To produce its latest record-breaking chips, the Infineon researchers use silicon that has been enriched with germanium atoms.
Wide scope of possible applications in data communications and cars
Depending on the type of circuit used, the high-frequency chips produced by Infineon are between ten and thirty percent faster than similar circuits fabricated by other manufacturers. The primary applications are in high-speed communications systems, where higher transmission frequencies allow more data to be transferred in less time. The likely applications include transmitters and receivers in microwave radio links and high-speed communication between electronic equipment and computers (wireless LAN).
Cars present a broad spectrum for possible applications for these high-speed chips. For example, radar-based proximity and collision warning systems, using Infineons new semiconductor technology, could be made at lower cost, with greater reliability, and above all much more intelligence. Therefore, it is possible to identify the radar signal with an individual character, thus rendering it immune to interfering signals from other cars.
Enhanced reliability could be used to offer greater comfort and safety, for example for automatic stop-and-go systems, which relieve drivers of having to constantly move forward and stop again in traffic jams.
Infineon reinforces leading position for high-speed communication
These new developments underscore Infineons steadfast commitment to being pioneers in technological development, said Dr. Werner Simbürger of the Research Department for High-Frequency Circuits at Infineon Technologies, commenting on the results achieved. The availability of components operating at 100+ GHz makes it possible for our customers to realise a new class of products for high-frequency applications and to produce these inexpensively. From the companys viewpoint, this serves to reinforce Infineons position as a leading provider of solutions for high-speed communication.
Infineons proprietary silicon-germanium (SiGe) bipolar technology used to produce these new record-breaking chips has already achieved switching times of 3.7ps (picoseconds, one billionth of a second, 10 -12). This is an almost unbelievably short space of time, in which even light only manages to travel one millimetre. (By way of comparison, light takes one second to travel from the earth to the moon.) In view of the inexpensive silicon technology, the researchers also see a great deal of further opportunities for high-performance electronic applications on a chip, at prices of a few cents.
Infineon Technologies AG, Munich, Germany, offers semiconductor and system solutions for the automotive and industrial sectors, for applications in the wired communications markets, secure mobile solutions as well as memory products. With a global presence, Infineon operates in the US from San Jose, CA, in the Asia-Pacific region from Singapore and in Japan from Tokyo. In fiscal year 2002 (ending September), the company achieved sales of Euro 5.21 billion with about 30,400 employees worldwide. Infineon is listed on the DAX index of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: IFX). Further information is available at http://www.infineon.com