X-FABs Adds NVM to Its 180nm BCD-on-SOI Platform

October 18, 2019 by Gary Elinoff

Robust NVM (non-volatile memory) can now more easily co-exist with power functions on the same chip.

X-FABs widely implemented XT018 BCD-on-SOI platform now accommodates SONOS-based Flash and embedded EEPROM NVM. Now, applications requiring high voltages, advanced computational functions and toleration of high ambient temperatures can now exist on a single-chip. This innovation will lead to new opportunities in the medical, industrial and automotive markets.

SONOS. Image from X-FAB

SONOS. Image from X-FAB


What Is BCD-on-SOI?

BCD stands for Bipolar-CMOS-DMOS, a group of silicon processes that make it possible to deploy the three different technologies on the same chip. The utility is that each technology has its own strengths.

  • Bipolar for analog
  • CMOS for digital
  • DMOS for high voltage and high power 

Employing an SOI (Silicon on Insulator) substrate allows for the coexistence of sensitive, very low voltage digital elements on the same chip that handles high voltage and high power DMOS tasks.

STMicroelectonics was the inventor of BCD. Image from ST

STMicroelectonics was the inventor of BCD. Image from ST

Filling a Need

Ever more single-chip applications employing MCUs that require NVM capabilities, such as embedded Flash and EEPROM, also call for high voltage operation.

In addition, resistance to ESD/EMC challenges along with the ability to thrive in high-temperature environments are also musts. X-FAB’s SONOS technology fills the bill, and it can also operate at junction temperatures from -40°C up to 175°C, which makes it possible for this technology to comply with automotive AEC-Q100 grade-0 quality standards.

Building on a Solid Foundation

X-FAB’s new NVM solution implements a single block of 32kBytes of Flash memory, as well as 4kbits of EEPROM, and both can operate at 1.8 Volts. They can be accessed independently despite sharing the same peripheral interface, which serves to decrease device footprint size. These elements both employ the X-FAB’s proven SONOS technology, leveraging the strong track record of the company’s 180-nanometer XH018 bulk process. Additionally, the new solution only adds four additional process layers to the original XTO18 base process. 

The NVM solution enables ECC (error code correction), with double-bit correction on the EEPROM  and single-bit correction on the Flash memory. There is an optional embedded test interface, which allows for direct access to both the Flash and the EEPROM. Thus, test engineers can deploy X-FAB’s wafer-level test capabilities, to facilitate debugging and improving time-to-yield.

The Rapid Electrification of the Automobile

While the wide-scale adaptation of electrically powered vehicle must await a battery that can fully charge as quickly as a consumer can now top off a gas tank, and the truly autonomous vehicle is still decades away, the rapid electrification of the gasoline-powered car nonetheless proceeds apace. X-FAB is positioning itself to benefit from this virtual tsunami of change and innovation.

As Nando Basile, Product Marketing Manager for NVM Solutions at X-FAB puts it, “Bringing Flash functionality to our XT018 platform provides us with a clear advantage in automotive powertrain applications where intelligent control is required at elevated temperatures.” 

And it doesn’t end there, as he goes on to state that “It also means that we are well-positioned to address numerous opportunities that are starting to appear within the medical and industrial domains.”