Last March, when Rozalia Beica, of Semitool, gave a presentation updating the progress of the EMC-3D consortium at the IMAPS Device Packaging Symposium, one of the process development units she identified as still causing limitations to achieving viable cost of ownership goals was with the insulation/barrier/seed layer steps. Part of the reason was because there was an open supplier slot in those process step areas. Since then, Applied Materials has since filled that spot and if the presentations they gave during yesterday’s sessions at IWLPC, they’re making headway optimizing mainstream technologies to address these limitations.
But why not investigate disruptive technologies for the solutions? Sesh Ramaswami, Sr. Director, strategy for the silicon systems group at Applied provided the answer: disruptive technologies will only be adopted if they provide a path for better process control and lower cost. The mainstream approach then, is to reduce cost with existing technology. Ok, fair enough.
Beica also reported that consortium members have achieved further cost reductions in their process flows for both via first and via last approaches, and having reached the goal of <$150/wafer, are now targeting <$120/wafer. This announcement had me wondering why Sandra Winkler, of Electronic Packaging Trends, reported during the panel discussion, that the cost of manufacturing TSV wafers is $500/wafer. Figuring I wasn’t the only one wondering why there was such a big discrepancy, I decided to ask. Winkler told me her numbers came from a source at a company that’s actually producing TSV wafers.The EMC-3D bases their cost analysis on the SEMATECH cost model, and is calculated considering the capital expenditure of a single equipment line outputting 10,000 wafers per month.
But regardless of whether or not they’re cost of ownership assumptions are realistic, there’s no denying that EMC-3D’s existence has done a lot for the advancement of 3D TSV. Like the SECAP consortium did for wafer bumping, EMC-3D has raised an awareness and communication that has helped to accelerate the development of viable TSV process flows. If today’s representation in the IWLPC’s technology program, the consortium is working hard to get their message out. Out of 3 3D tracks and 3 WLP tracks (a total of 19 presentations) 9 presentations were given by EMC-3D supplier members (2 from Semitool, 3 from Applied Materials, 1 from Enthone, and 3 from EV Group).
I have to admit that after a week in France, immersed in the excitement that comes with learning about emerging, enabling and disruptive technologies and R&D programs that could provide industry-altering solutions to current limitations, the stark realization that most of the industry is still more comfortable with optimizing mainstream technology dashed cold water on my growing enthusiasm. Today’s message was loud and clear – disruptive technologies are too risky – let’s stick with optimizing the mainstream. Apparently, in this industry the devil you know is still better than the devil you don’t know.