They brought in a few of the big guns today (Intel, IBM, TSMC) to offer perspectives and updates on the commercialization of 3D integration. As with most big guns, they played things rather close to the vest, reticent to share too much too soon, knowing that all ears were turned on them. Still, the attendees were rewarded with a few choice nuggets of insight.

Jerry Bautista, Intel, had a few things to say that indicated forward movement in 3D integration. He said the company is considering 3 different types of TSVs for three different functions: power delivery, thermal and signaling. “These require different materials and different aspect ratios for delivering different functions.” In other words, not all TSVs are the same. Overall, the word at Intel is that 3D stacking still quite attractive, quite doable; however from cost and implementation perspective it’s going to take quite an effort, so they’re still waiting for “the right product intercept.”

John Knickerbocker, of IBM, talked about the work being done fabricating demonstrators of different applications in order to establish ground rules for moving forward. He said IBM’s roadmap includes implementing 3D integration and optics to “derail memory wall” and improve system performance. “Assembly and test areas are in need of continued development in order to introduce 3D packaging in an efficient manner,” he noted. IBM rolled out a simple TSV power amplifier in 2008. Not waiting for a specific product, rather Knickerbocker says IBM sees various platforms moving forward over time. It depends on technology node, its sensitivity of risk aversion. He predicts 3D applications will roll out from 2012 and beyond, or sooner depending on application.

Presenting from Taiwan, Douglas Yu of TSMC was probably the most forthcoming about TSMCs plans for implementing 3D integration, the challenges faced by a foundry, and some of the supply chain solutions they’ve started to work out. Yu said it’s becoming clear that we’re nearing the end of Moore’s Law: “It’s all about the economy,” he noted. “However device performance and functionality is also a must.” After he outlined all the challenges facing the foundry – and there was a frighteningly long laundry list of them – he concluded with the notion that what’s needed is a new business model that involves joint R&D and even production for wafer processing, substrate and assembly. In this way, invested partied jointly manage the liability issue together. He said it’s important to filter through the many approaches available (D2W, D2S, via first, via last), and choose a general one to focus on, then expanding or adding later. Ultimately, Yu said that regardless of whether you’re a foundry or an IDM, you need commitment, investment, and execution to secure success.


Francoise von Trapp

They call me the “Queen of 3D” because I have been following the course of…

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