It may have been a coincidence that at last week’s 3D ASIP Conference, Invensas, Tezzaron/Novati, and Ziptronix booths were lined up next to each other in the exhibit hall, but then again maybe it was just Interconnectology in action. News linking Tezzaron/Novati with both Ziptronix and Invensas indicates progress for all three companies in the 3D IC space, and leaves open the question of how long will it be before there’s news that closes the loop and links Ziptronix with Invensas? I spoke with representatives of all three companies to learn more about what brought them together in their respective collaborations, and how this points to the maturation of 3D integration technologies as a whole.
The week began with news released by Ziptronix about the sale of its development lab to Tezzaron, to be operated by Tezzaron’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Novati Technologies. According to Ziptronix CTO Paul Enquist, the technology company has outgrown the need for the North Carolina facility because it was originally build to develop the technology up to 200mm wafer scale. “Our technologies (ZiBond and DBI) are being adopted and licensed. They’re fully developed and we’re working with customers on 300mm wafers in customer facilities,” explained Enquist. “It (the facility) has more use to Tezzaron as a revenue center than to Ziptronix, as we are concentrating resources on licensing and further adoption of the technology. There’s no need to allocate funds to operate a facility. Our business model is licensing, and this will let us concentrate on that.”
Bob Patti, CTO, Tezzaron concurred. “We want to manufacture,” he said, adding that the company plans to update the 200mm facility to 300mm. “We bought the fab for the people and their expertise. There’s lots of experience there.” Patti explained that both Tezzaron and Novati licensed Ziptronix’ technologies last year, and transferred the technologies to the Texas facility, which is geared toward volume production. The plan is to use the North Carolina facility as a development lab and can bridge to Texas. Both sites will be fully independent, he explained. “Now it (the NC facility) will be a product development facility. The technology is mature. It’s a natural progression. Part of moving into production with a technology is to have a mature process that we know works and will get results.” Tezzaron has clearly found that in Ziptronix. The agreement between Ziptronix and Tezzaron also allows for Ziptronix to continue running customer wafers in the NC facility. It’s all part of an ongoing mutually beneficial strategic partnership that demonstrates how the road to 3D IC commercialization is paved through collaboration.
The second piece of news bearing the Tezzaron name came from Invensas, who announced a partnership to develop 3D IC products. “Tezzaron will build the chips, and Invensas will provide the assembly techniques,” explained Sitaram Arkalgud, VP, 3D Products, Invensas. Tezzaron’s 3D-IC technology involves stacking multiple layers of circuitry with through silicon vias (TSVs) into ultra dense, ultra high-performance, low-power products, using advanced semiconductor and semiconductor packaging processes. Invensas has developed a pilot line for assembly of 3D IC products, based on a portfolio of over 500 patents. According to Patti, Tezzaron intends to run 10,000 parts a week at Invensas to debug the process. He said that as of yet, they have not licensed Invensas IP, but are using it and are in ongoing discussions.
The ultimate goal for Tezzaron, explained Patti, is to build a supply chain for customers because it’s what needs to be done. “Early customers will take all the risk,” he noted. “Larger volumes will want to see back-up plans.”
Patti says that for Tezzaron, these agreements with Ziptronix and Invensas are indicative of the progress in 3D. He’s been at it since 2004 and has always been a believer. “If they hadn’t worked when we first built them in 2004, we wouldn’t have kept after it for so long,” he said. From 2012 to 2013, he says Tezzaron has seen 15x revenue growth from the year before. If that’s not a sign of progress, I don’t know what is. ~F.v.T.