Got up before dawn to catch the 6am flight to SFO for RTI’s 3D Architectures for Systems Integration and Packaging Conference (3D ASIP), and arrived just in time to catch the tail-end of Xilinx’ Ivo Bolson’s presentation. It was ironic (or strategic?) that Ivo started things off, because it was just a year ago that Xilinx 2.5D was the big story at 3D ASIP and became the poster child as the first step to 3D integration. So it was fitting that Bolson’s comments set the stage for the rest of the day’s presentations.
Addressing the question, is 2.5D just a stepping stone or long term alternative? Bolson said that 2D is happening now and will stay around. But 3D is the next frontier and despite challenges of keep-out zones (KOZ) and thermal and design methodologies, there’s no question that 3D will happen, but 2.5 D will continue to serve certain applications. “3D ICS are here! This year — 2011 — is the year for the breakthrough of 3D stacking,” declared Bolson. “It’s really here. It’s in the products. 2.5 D is also here to stay, and we (the Industry) need to get our act together.”
This sentiment was uttered almost across the board, at least during this first day of the conference. (I said almost – there are still some slow to accept this as reality – but I’ll address that topic later.) Joe Sawicki, from Mentor Graphics, acknowledged the reality of 3D ICs, pointing out that the end of scaling is near. “It’s not just a Cassandra utterance any more. It’s looking more realistic that we’re reaching the end of scaling,” he said. And as we all know, scaling has long been considered a technology driver for 3D ICs.
TSMC’s Douglas Chen-Hua Yu not only said 3D is here, he said TSMC stands ready to take on the full end-end-process. (Yes, there will be lots more on that declaration – and the reactions to it in the next blog post). Jeff Perkins, of Yole Developpment, further confirmed 3D is happening – “the ecosystem all over the globe is exercising the 3D supply chain.”
While some presenters wove a more cautionary tale (“Blind investments too often lead to dead ends,” warned Synopsis’ Michael Jackson), highlighting remaining challenges, and reminding us that 3D is still “going through puberty” (Jim Feldhan, Semico Research), it did nothing to extinguish the excitement in the air caused by the realization that, more than ever before at the 3D ASIP Conference, now in its 8th year, all the effort, investment, and risk in bringing 3D ICs to market is about to pay off.
And this is just the beginning. I just wanted to whet your appetite. There’s another full day of proceedings to attend, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Signing of for now! – F.v.T.