What the packaging foundries had to say….

Friday was the OSATs turn to offer their status reports with regard to market readiness for 3D TSV production. And it would be safe they all came out in favor of integration, with optimistic roadmaps despite the limitations still being addressed.

Evolution simply doesn’t cutting it more. It’s time for the revolution. “You can resist an invading army, you cannot resist an idea whose time has come,” noted Ho-Ming Tong, Chief R&D officer and general manager of Group R&D, ASE Group, quoting Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. What makes it time? Simple. Atoms don’t scale, explained Tong, (and then quipped “unless you use a particle accelerator.”) He estimates we’re about 10 years away from end of scaling. (Ironically, that’s about when everyone predicts 3D will be ubiquitous.)Tong says 3D IC stands out as the one technology that combines the performance advantages of SOC with the cost advantages of system in package (SiP). ASE will be ready with processes by 2011, and we can expect that by the time the EDA tools are ready (2012) so will the supply chain.

“Initial implementation of TSV in the OSAT infrastructure will likely take the route of interposer technology applied as an enhancement to prevailing package configurations, closely followed by via first with post-TSV processing managed by the foundry.” predicts Raj Pendse, VP of emerging technologies, STATS ChipPAC. ASE’s Tong says concurs, referring to that interposer step as 2.5D, bridging the gap because it’s closer to commercialization than full 3D IC, and allows for device, function partitioning, mix and match of packages. Meanwhile, there’s still industry innovation needed to reduce assembly cost.

Pendse also said that until the previously mentioned challenges (do I really HAVE to list them again?) are ironed out, there are alternative interim solutions for 3D integration available today – like the eWLB technology STATS is working on with Infineon and ST Micro.

At Amkor, Ron Huemoeller, VP advanced interconnect, reports that “these things are happening now. These are being qualified by our customers. “ He says that memory will be the next application to adopt TSV, and that Amkor is working on a 4-die memory stack with 50µm die thickness, 10µm diameter TSVs that will be available at the end of 2010, early 2011. Huemoeller says the remaining hurdles are small, and will work themselves out. He adds that assembly is not a hurdle in this space because they can leverage known processes and equipment.

From an optimistic perspective, Tong called the remaining challenges “opportunities, and noted that 3D IC innovations create a new market place. “You have a choice, you can be a believer or you can be a non believer.” So what do you say, do you believe? — F.v.T