AMD invests in Ireland R&D

AMD plans to invest up to $135 million in Irish R&D over
the next four years.

Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon
Coveney, announced the investment on June 21st, alongside Senior VP of Marketing, Communications and Human Resources, Ruth Cotter. The announcement was accompanied by a press release by American Advanced Micro Devices.

The investment is meant to fund strategic R&D projects,
add up to 290 highly-skilled engineering and research positions, and additional support roles. It will expand the R&D and engineering in its Dublin and Cork sites. It will be supported by the Irish government through IDA Ireland.

Coveney said he warmly welcomed the plans of
AMD, and said the investment would bolster the technology sector and create career opportunities.

R&D teams in Ireland will use the funding to design high
performance and adaptive computing engines. These will then be used to accelerate data centre, networking, 6G communications and embedded solutions.

Previously Xilinx, which was acquired by AMD in 2022,
partnered with IDA Ireland several times. In 2017 Xilinx announced an investment of $40 million for R&D, and to recruit more than 100 new skilled employees.

IDA (Industrial Development Agency) Ireland is the country’s
Foreign Direct Investment Agency. It has supported AMD and Xilinx for almost three decades.

The first semiconductor fabs were built in Ireland in 1976.
Analog Devices and Intel were some of the first companies to invest in the island. The first Irish AMD Xilinx facility was launched in 1994 and was the company’s first base of operations outside the US.

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The potential of diamond wide band gap semiconductors

Are diamond semiconductors forever?

Diamond could be the newest power semiconductor material, surpassing both Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN).

Diamond has excellent properties for high-voltage operations, high-temperature applications and high-frequency switching.

Compared to Silicon (Si), the material semiconductors are currently made from, diamond has a critical electric field 30 times higher. It also has a critical electric field 3 times higher than SiC, a more recent competitor.

The carrier mobility is also very high for both carrier types, and it has superior thermal conductivity.

However, these synthetic diamond wide band gap semiconductors are still a way off mass production.

What is a wide band gap semiconductor?

The band gap of semiconductors is the energy difference between two bands in the semiconductor: the valence band and the conduction band. Because of the extra distance between the bands, these semiconductors can operate in more extreme conditions. The devices are better equipped for higher voltages, higher temperatures, and higher frequency conditions. They can also be referred to as power semiconductors.

GaN and SiC are some of the more recent materials considered for mass-produced power semiconductor devices. Each material, including diamond, has its own merits.

The advantages of wide band gap semiconductors

Diamfab, a “spin-off” of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), is researching into the potential of diamond semiconductors. The project was founded in 2016, with the start-up being incorporated in 2019. Despite the recent incorporation, they have 30 years of research from the CRNS wide band gap semiconductor team behind them.

The company believes it can design a diamond die 30% less expensive than a SiC die with a smaller surface area, the same electrical performance and efficiency, and better thermal management. Diamond could also decrease energy loss, and can be used as both an insulator and a conductor.

Like SiC and GaN, Diamfab hopes to use diamond wide band gap semiconductors in the electric vehicles (EV) industry. The power density, small size and cost are all advantages of wide band gap semiconductors over their alternatives in cars. And since diamond already shows heaps of potential, there are high hopes for its usage in the future.



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