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NanoIC pilot line: accelerating beyond-2nm innovation across Europe

Hosted by imec and supported by pan-European partnerships, the NanoIC pilot line boosts the development and commercialization of beyond-2nm systems-on-chip.

The next generation of semiconductor technologies promises tremendous opportunities for accelerating innovation within Europe’s strategic markets such as automotive, health and life sciences, industrial automation, network infrastructure, and quantum computing.

Systems-on-chip based on beyond-2nm logic nodes and other breakthroughs will empower solutions that will drive economic growth and inspire sustainable answers to society’s biggest questions.

To grab these opportunities, the European semiconductor industry must address key challenges, such as bridging the gap from innovation to product development, fostering collaboration, and supporting technology innovation, economic growth, and strategic autonomy.

These goals can only be met when there’s low-barrier access to state-of-the-art equipment, and opportunities for advanced research and development of new materials, process steps and modules.

The European Chips Act fulfills this need by deploying pilot lines for advanced semiconductor technologies. The NanoIC pilot line, hosted by imec, specifically targets the development of beyond-2nm systems-on-chip (SoC).

NanoIC logo

Beyond-2nm technology platform

The term ‘2nm’ refers to a logic technology node soon to be offered by foundries. SoCs based on 2nm technology – also incorporating advanced electrical and optical interconnects, and innovative memory technologies – will be at the heart of many disruptive applications.

The NanoIC pilot line is an extension of the pilot line facilities that imec built up over the previous decades. It establishes a leading technology platform where European and international companies can explore beyond-2nm SoC technologies before they’re introduced into large-scale production.

This will:

  • Enable the European supplier ecosystem to enhance its competitiveness while boosting the global chip value chain.
  • Offer companies the opportunity to explore the most advanced chip technology solutions for their future applications

Pan-European partnership

This groundbreaking pilot line is a result of remarkable cross-continent collaboration. Imec’s partners in the NanoIC pilot line include CEA-Leti (France), Fraunhofer (Germany), VTT (Finland), CSSNT (Romania) and Tyndall National Institute (Ireland).

The investment of € 2.5B will be gathered through a combination of contributions from Horizon Europe, Digital Europe, the Flemish government, and several industry partners, including ASML.

This cornerstone investment will be expanded through strong contributions from EU and global industry to run projects on the pilot line.

Boost to innovation and commercialization

The NanoIC pilot line lowers the threshold to innovation by offering early-stage process design kits (PDKs) to companies that want to explore novel solutions.

Start-ups, SMEs, universities, and design and system companies can use:

  • design pathfinding PDKs for early design exploration in future IC technologies 
  • system exploration PDKs for prototyping of advanced technology components on top of or embedded in the stack of commercially available foundry wafers

Foundries and IDMs can evaluate innovations in process flows and equipment, allowing them to derisk new features before making internal investments. This is particularly significant for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in sectors such as telecom, high-performance computing, AI and automotive, where the demand for advanced semiconductor solutions is rapidly increasing.

The NanoIC pilot line supports European OEMs to take leadership in upcoming chiplet-based innovation. Through small-volume manufacturing, companies can scale up from prototype to production. This boosts innovation and commercialization in the European semiconductor industry.

More details about the NanoIC pilot line and how to access it will be announced soon. Do you have any questions? Click the button below to contact imec.