NEC Develops 45nm CMOS LSIs with High-Speed and Low-Power

NEC Corporation and NEC Electronics Corporation have developed a 45 nanometer (nm) node CMOS basic circuit module with the latest high performance Cu/low-k multilevel interconnects. It has been confirmed that basic circuit operation possesses high-speed 5GHz-clocked LSI operation potential at low-voltage (0.9V), achieving doubled device integrity and 20 percent power savings compared to conventional 65nm-node LSIs.

The features of the technologies are as follows:

  1. The interconnect parasitic capacitance, which enlarges the signal delay and the power consumption, has been decreased thoroughly by a unique “seamless low-k stack structure” without any high-k silica layers. The parasitic capacitance of 140nm-pitched lines was reduced to the world’s lowest at 85fF/mm, with the effective dielectric constant keff=2.9.
  2. A special self-organizing etch technology was implemented to realize the 140nm-pitched DDI*1 (dual damascene interconnect) in the seamless low-k stacks of carbon-rich, hexagonal-silica-based SiOCH (molecular-pore-stacked (MPS) SiOCH*2 with k=2.45) on silicon-rich SiOCH (k=2.7).
  3. The interconnect-loaded basic circuit of the 45nm-node CMOS (gate length Lg=30nm) has been confirmed to achieve 5GHz operation potentially at 0.9V due to keff =2.9.

The 45nm-node CMOS with the seamless low-k stack structure realizes a high speed and low-power LSI device for use in next-generation supercomputers with 5GHz-clocked operation and next-generation network (NGN) servers.

Silicon LSI devices consist of CMOS transistors and multilevel interconnects that connect the transistors. Device scaling has resulted in an increase in integration density and operation speed. The interconnect parasitic capacitance, however, is increased by simple scaling, enlarging the power consumption and the signal delay. Starting from the 90nm-node, low-k dielectric films have been implemented into the multilayer interconnects to reduce the parasitic capacitance. With further miniaturization of the 45nm-node, precise control of the critical dimension (CD) became difficult in the low-k films patterned without any etching damages. Unwillingly, rigid silica layers were incorporated in the low-k film stacks, which had the unwanted effect of pushing the effective dielectric constant keff.

To address this problem, NEC and NEC Electronics developed a unique “seamless low-k stack structure” without any high-k silica layers. The parasitic capacitance of 140nm-pitched lines has been reduced to the world’s lowest 85fF/mm, with an effective dielectric constant of keff=2.9. Along with the low-k seamless stack, a special self-organizing etching technology, which is highly sensitive to the chemical composition and density of the low-k films, was developed. Consequently, the interconnect-loaded basic circuits of 45nm-node CMOS transistors with 30nm gate-length have been successfully operated to confirm the feasibility of 5GHz-clocked LSI operation even with low power supply voltage such as 0.9V.

NEC and NEC Electronics consider 45nm-LSI with high performance interconnects and fine CMOS to be indispensable for low-power and high-speed information technology, and the companies will continue to actively conduct R&D in this area to sbring leading edge devices to market.

The companies will present these technologies at the Symposium on VLSI Technology, to be held at Honolulu, Hawaii from June 13 to 15.

*1. The DDI structure was created with Cu-filling simultaneously in the interconnect line-trenches and the via-holes in the low-k films. The low-oxygen content (LOC) Cu-alloy, which was reported by NEC at IEDM 2005, was utilized as the filled metals, achieving high interconnect reliabilities.

*2. A unique hexagonal-silica-based, low-k dielectric film, which was developed jointly by NEC and the MIRAI project (low-k) and presented at 2005 Symposium of VLSI Technology, in Kyoto, Japan.

Hexagonal silica molecules with unsaturated and saturated hydrocarbon side-chains were vaporized to introduce low-power He-plasma. The unsaturated hydrocarbon is mainly activated by the low energy electrons to deposit the plasma-polymerized SiOCH film with the hexagonal molecular pores of 0.35nmƒ³, which is almost equal to the size of water molecules. No water absorption was observed into the MPS-SiOCH films even in the high humidity circumstance due to the ultra-tiny porous structure.

About NEC Corporation
NEC Corporation (TSE: 6701; NASDAQ: NIPNY) is one of the world’s leading providers of Internet, broadband network and enterprise business solutions dedicated to meeting the specialized needs of its diverse and global base of customers. NEC delivers tailored solutions in the key fields of computer, networking and electron devices, by integrating its technical strengths in IT and Networks, and by providing advanced semiconductor solutions through NEC Electronics Corporation. The NEC Group employs more than 140,000 people worldwide and had net sales of 4,855 billion yen (approx. $45.4 billion) in the fiscal year ended March 2005.

About NEC Electronics
NEC Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723) specializes in semiconductor products encompassing advanced technology solutions for the high-end computing and broadband networking markets, system solutions for the mobile handsets, PC peripherals, automotive and digital consumer markets, and multi-market solutions for a wide range of customer applications. NEC Electronics Corporation has 26 subsidiaries worldwide including NEC Electronics America, Inc. and NEC Electronics (Europe) GmbH.