SOI could chop $800 billion from US power bills

Boston (MA) – The SOI Industry Consortium (SOIC) has launched SOI Simply Greener, an initiative encouraging broader application of the energy saving benefits of silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology by the electronics industry.

SOIC says chips manufactured on SOI instead of traditional bulk silicon can realize energy savings of 30 percent or more when designed with the same feature size at equivalent performance. Broader adoption and usage of SOI technology by the industry are consistent with global initiatives to both lower global electric power demand and reduce electric power bills for businesses and consumers.

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“SOI is simply greener – and this story needs to be told,” said Horacio Mendez, Executive Director of the SOI Industry Consortium. “The first high-volume SOI applications were geared to high performance, but even there, the power-saving benefits are now apparent.

“The fact that 18 of the top 20 most power-efficient supercomputers are built with SOI demonstrates SOI’s ‘Green IT’ benefits for enterprise applications. Also current versions of the top three consumer game consoles each include SOI-based chips, but much more can be done to help consumers lower their power bills through broader SOI usage. The SOI Consortium’s green campaign will drive that point home to the design community.”

SOIC adds that the energy-efficiency advantage of SOI technology contributes to both increased performance and reduced power consumption – the magnitude of benefit applied to each is the designer’s choice. Since “apples-to-apples” comparisons are impractical for most design teams to make, results from two studies are offered by consortium members to demonstrate this point.

A benchmark analysis was performed by ARM Holdings using a 24-stage interconnect-loaded datapath circuit. When comparing IBM’s 45nm bulk silicon high performance and 45nm SOI technologies, the SOI implementation resulted in a 25 percent circuit area reduction, 66 percent reduction in static power leakage and nearly 22 percent reduction in dynamic power with five percent higher performance.

A consumer product chip design that was migrated from 65nm bulk silicon high performance to IBM’s 45nm SOI technology realized a 50 percent increase in operating frequency, more than 64 percent reduction in die area and a 38 percent reduction in power consumption.

“As we detailed in our recent report Semiconductor Technologies: The Potential to Revolutionize U.S. Energy Productivity, semiconductors already are the leading factor behind energy efficiency gains,” said lead author of the report John A. “Skip” Laitner, Director, Economic and Social Analysis, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

“SOI offers a major advance in the power efficiency of electronics, and with appropriate public policy, investment and usage these semiconductor technology gains can contribute to cumulative net electricity bill savings of $800 billion through 2030 for consumers and businesses in the United States alone, as well as creating an average of 500,000 new jobs per year and reducing energy-related CO2 emissions by more than 400 million metric tons annually over the period 2010 through 2030.”