The day after Nicolas Sillon presented his keynote at IWLPC on interposer technology, we sat down to coffee and a one-on–one discussion about Leti’s accomplishments and position in the 3D space, and the upcoming European 3D TSV Summit, which takes place in Grenoble, January 22 & 23. Sillon has served on 3D InCites advisory board since it was first established, and I’ve visited Leti in Grenoble on two occasions. It was good to catch up.
In the early days of Leti’s 3D program, the focus was on developing “technology bricks” for Leti’s “3D Toolbox” explained Sillon, with the ultimate goal of integration flows that transfer to industry. At this point, Sillon says they’ve moved beyond developing the bricks. “The time is coming for full integration of 3D, and our goal is to develop that with our partners,” he said, adding that a strong 3D design program where the design team works closely with the technology team is also critical success, and he feels they’ve achieved that at Leti. He talked about the research center’s WIOMING project, which developed wide I/O memory on logic. “This was successful because we were able to combine work in design together with technology.” He said. The collaboration included ST-Ericsson, ST Microelectronics, and Cadence.
In his keynote, Sillon talked about the 3D chip vision Leti has. I asked him to expand a bit on that. He explained that while the future target is expensive, and hard to repair, it’s a good target, and no more difficult to develop than the interposer was five years ago. Having this vision drives the people who are working on it in a step-by-step approach. “Each step is a product or application with a partner. Wide I/O memory is one step; a passive interposer is another step. The “bricks” are generic, but the applications with partners are specific,” he explained. “This allows us to work with several partners on specific applications without violating any proprietary work. It seems like a viable, workable business model.” As an example, he said Leti has been engaged for three years on project with ST Micro and Mentor Graphics. It’s a 10-year plan with specific target “bricks.” The program is very ambitious and combines design and technology. “We have new architectures in 3D every year and a half, with concrete demonstrators. This provides a clear roadmap for design people and technology people who are working together to develop the program,” said Sillon.
Leti’s program is one of three pivotal 3D IC programs operating in Europe. Imec’s and Fraunhofer IZM-ASSID are the others. In January at SEMI’s inaugural European 3D TSV Summit, which takes place at Minatec Campus in Grenoble, all three institutes will have a chance to showcase their different motivations, approaches and end-goals. Because the event takes place this time right in Leti’s backyard, a tour of its 300mm cleanroom will be available. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s new.
SEMI’s purpose for this event, explained Sillon, is to show Europe as a place to do 3D to the rest of the world. “We (Europe) have research in 3D, end users, IDMs, and equipment and material suppliers,” he said. ““We’ve invited attendees from all over the world, so that we can give the idea to the external industry that they can come and work with us.“
For Leti, he says it’s an opportunity to show what Leti is doing internally and along with the rest of its European industrial partners. There’s a good collaboration going on in the European semiconductor industry. “Even if we have our own programs, we are collaborating in EU projects.”
I just booked my flight to attend this event. But before that, I’ll be attending Tech Venture Forum’s 3D ASIP in Redwood City CA, where I plan on interviewing Juergen Wolf, of Fraunhofer IZM –ASSID for his input on this conference. Be on the lookout for that interview sometime before Christmas! ~ FvT