Earlier this week Invensas Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tessera Technologies, Inc., announced both its acquisition of ALLVIA’s patent assets,and a two-year collaborative partnership with ALLVIA to further develop technology and intellectual property (IP) in the 3-dimensional integrated circuit (3D-IC) packaging space. This strategic alliance is expected to optimize the strengths of each company at a time when 2.5D and 3D ICs are poised for market adoption. I spoke with Simon McElrea, president of Invensas Corporation, and Sergey Savastiouk, chief executive officer, ALLVIA, Inc. to learn more about the motivations and benefits of this for this acquisition/collaboration.
It’s an interesting marriage, to say the least. Invensas was launched in 2011, and according to McElrea, now has a robust portfolio comprising close to 500 patents focused in advanced packaging, 3D technology, and circuitry, among other areas. Its flagship offering, xFD™ Technology, is a wire bonded, multi-die face down technology for mobile and memory products, that was introduced as a near-term solution for stacked DRAM. On the other hand, ALLVIA is known as a pioneer of through silicon via (TSV) technologies, and even coined the term. Savastiouk estimates the company has invested 80 man years in developing TSV fabrication processes for interposers and 3D IC stacking, and held the 64 patents, mostly in the 3D space, now transferred to Invensas. Whereas Invensas’ business model is based on licensing, ALLVIA’s business model is focused on manufacturing product. Invensas’ R&D facilities boasts full middle-of-the-line and back-end-of-line assembly capabilities; while ALLVIA is a front-end foundry with manufacturing capabilities for volume manufacturing. If opposites attract, this is a match made in heaven.
Under the terms of the agreement, explained McElrea, Invensas acquired all 64 patents, with a license back to ALLVIA for manufacturing purposes. The second part of the deal is the 2 year collaboration of the two companies’ 3D teams to create new 2.5 and 3D technologies, for which Invensas will hold the patents and ALLVIA will retain manufacturing licenses.
“There is great synergy in this model, as both companies can focus on our strengths as well as collaborate on next generation 2.5D and 3D technology” explained McElrea. “We have a very strong core competence in technology creation and licensing and ALLVIA is a pioneer in 3D, interposer and TSV technology.”
“It’s important to understand that the business of licensing and the business of manufacturing are two different activities,” added Savastiouk. “We have a lot of patents and knowledge of how to fabricate the vias, but we don’t have a licensing capabilities and expertise to go to other companies and explain how to get license and use our knowledge and patents. We prefer to be in the business of manufacturing products.” He added that Invensas is well versed in licensing strategies, and it made sense to take this step and allow each company to do what they do best.
Further, the two-year collaboration will allow Invensas to combine their expertise on the mid and back-end with ALLVIA’s front-end capabilities to integrate all the processes in a much more seamless approach and realize any problems associated from beginning to end, from TSV fabrication through packaging and test. The ultimate goal is to develop IP that encompasses the entire integration process, said Savastiouk. “We’re very excited about this, especially the opportunity to work with more 3D engineers,” noted McElrea.
It’s important to note that while the Invensas/ALL VIA development collaboration brings together a full assembly line, McElrea said it is intended for R&D purposes only. Even though ALLVIA offers low to mid volume front-end manufacturing, neither entity has designs on putting in middle-of-line and back-end capacity for manufacturing. Manufacturing is not the goal of Invensas, and Savastiouk said ALLVIA prefers to focus in its sweet spot: TSV fabrication. They will, however, work with collaborative partners for the mid-end and back end processes.
All in all, this strategic collaboration has created something that is pretty unique in Silicon Valley. We can expect to see great things come from this.