In microelectronics, a three-dimensional integrated circuit (3D IC) is an integrated circuit manufactured by stacking silicon wafers or dies and interconnecting them vertically using, for instance, through-silicon vias (TSVs) or Cu-Cu connections, so that they behave as a single device to achieve performance improvements at reduced power and smaller footprint than conventional two dimensional processes. 3D IC is just one of a host of 3D integration schemes that exploit the z-direction to achieve electrical performance benefits.
Microelectronics is a subfield of electronics. As the name suggests, microelectronics relates to the study and manufacture of very small electronic designs and components. Usually, but not always, this means micrometre-scale or smaller. These devices are typically made from semiconductor materials. Many components of normal electronic design are available in a microelectronic equivalent. These include transistors, capacitors, inductors, resistors, diodes and (naturally) insulators and conductors can all be found in microelectronic devices. Unique wiring techniques such as wire bonding are also often used in microelectronics because of the unusually small size of the components, leads and pads. This technique requires specialized equipment and is expensive.
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is a set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece of semiconductor material that is normally silicon. The integration of large numbers of tiny transistors into a small chip results in circuits that are orders of magnitude smaller, cheaper, and faster than those constructed of discrete electronic components. The IC's mass production capability, reliability and building-block approach to circuit design has ensured the rapid adoption of standardized ICs in place of designs using discrete transistors. ICs are now used in virtually all electronic equipment and have revolutionized the world of electronics. Computers, mobile phones, and other digital home appliances are now inextricable parts of the structure of modern societies, made possible by the small size and low cost of ICs.
A die, in the context of integrated circuits, is a small block of semiconducting material on which a given functional circuit is fabricated. Typically, integrated circuits are produced in large batches on a single wafer of electronic-grade silicon (EGS) or other semiconductor through processes such as photolithography. The wafer is cut (diced) into many pieces, each containing one copy of the circuit. Each of these pieces is called a die.
3D integrated circuits can be classified by their level of interconnect hierarchy at the global (package), intermediate (bond pad) and local (transistor) levelIn general, 3D integration is a broad term that includes such technologies as 3D wafer-level packaging (3DWLP); 2.5D and 3D interposer-based integration; 3D stacked ICs (3D-SICs), monolithic 3D ICs; 3D heterogeneous integration; and 3D systems integration.
International organizations such as the Jisso Technology Roadmap Committee (JIC) and the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) have worked to classify the various 3D integration technologies to further the establishment of standards and roadmaps of 3D integration.
The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) is a set of documents produced by a group of semiconductor industry experts. These experts are representative of the sponsoring organisations which include the Semiconductor Industry Associations of the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
3D Packaging refers to 3D integration schemes that rely on traditional methods of interconnect such as wire bonding and flip chip to achieve vertical stacks. 3D packaging can be disseminated further into 3D system in package (3D SiP) and 3D wafer level package (3D WLP). Stacked memory die interconnected with wire bonds, and package on package (PoP) configurations interconnected with either wire bonds, or flip chips are 3D SiPs that have been in mainstream manufacturing for some time and have a well established infrastructure. PoP is used for vertically integrating disparate technologies such as 3D WLP uses wafer level processes such as redistribution layers (RDL) and wafer bumping processes to form interconnects.
Wire bonding is the method of making interconnections (ATJ) between an integrated circuit (IC) or other semiconductor device and its packaging during semiconductor device fabrication. Although less common, wire bonding can be used to connect an IC to other electronics or to connect from one printed circuit board (PCB) to another. Wire bonding is generally considered the most cost-effective and flexible interconnect technology and is used to assemble the vast majority of semiconductor packages. Wire bonding can be used at frequencies above 100 GHz.
Flip chip, also known as controlled collapse chip connection or its abbreviation, C4, is a method for interconnecting semiconductor devices, such as IC chips and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), to external circuitry with solder bumps that have been deposited onto the chip pads. The technique was developed by General Electric's Light Military Electronics Dept., Utica, N.Y. The solder bumps are deposited on the chip pads on the top side of the wafer during the final wafer processing step. In order to mount the chip to external circuitry, it is flipped over so that its top side faces down, and aligned so that its pads align with matching pads on the external circuit, and then the solder is reflowed to complete the interconnect. This is in contrast to wire bonding, in which the chip is mounted upright and wires are used to interconnect the chip pads to external circuitry.
A system in package (SiP) or system-in-a-package is a number of integrated circuits enclosed in a single chip carrier package. The SiP performs all or most of the functions of an electronic system, and is typically used inside a mobile phone, digital music player, etc. Dies containing integrated circuits may be stacked vertically on a substrate. They are internally connected by fine wires that are bonded to the package. Alternatively, with a flip chip technology, solder bumps are used to join stacked chips together. Systems-in-package are like systems-on-chip (SoC) but less tightly integrated and not on a single semiconductor die.
2.5D interposer is also a 3D WLP that interconnects die side-side on a silicon, glass or organic interposer using TSVs and RDL. In all types of 3D Packaging, chips in the package communicate using off-chip signaling, much as if they were mounted in separate packages on a normal circuit board.
An interposer is an electrical interface routing between one socket or connection to another. The purpose of an interposer is to spread a connection to a wider pitch or to reroute a connection to a different connection.
3D ICs can be divided into 3D Stacked ICs (3D SIC), which refers to stacking IC chips using TSV interconnects, and monolithic 3D ICs, which use fab processes to realize 3D interconnects at the local levels of the on-chip wiring hierarchy as set forth by the ITRS, this results in direct vertical interconnects between device layers. The first examples of a monolithic approach are seen in Samsung’s 3D VNAND devices.
The digital electronics market requires a higher density semiconductor memory chip to cater to recently released CPU components, and the multiple die stacking technique has been suggested as a solution to this problem. JEDEC disclosed the upcoming DRAM technology includes the "3D SiC" die stacking plan at "Server Memory Forum", November 1–2, 2011, Santa Clara, CA. In August 2014, Samsung started producing 64GB DRAM modules for servers based on emerging DDR4 (double-data rate 4) memory using 3D TSV package technology.Newer proposed standards for 3D stacked DRAM include Wide I/O, Wide I/O 2, Hybrid Memory Cube, High Bandwidth Memory.
Monolithic 3D ICs are built in layers on a single semiconductor wafer, which is then diced into 3D ICs. There is only one substrate, hence no need for aligning, thinning, bonding, or through-silicon vias. Process temperature limitations are addressed by partitioning the transistor fabrication to two phases. A high temperature phase which is done before layer transfer follow by a layer transfer use ion-cut, also known as layer transfer, which has been used to produce Silicon on Insulator (SOI) wafers for the past two decades. Multiple thin (10s–100s nanometer scale) layers of virtually defect-free Silicon can be created by utilizing low temperature (<400℃) bond and cleave techniques, and placed on top of active transistor circuitry. Follow by finalizing the transistors using etch and deposition processes. This monolithic 3D IC technology has been researched at Stanford University under a DARPA-sponsored grant.
CEA-Leti is also developing monolithic 3D IC approaches, called sequential 3D IC. In 2014, the French research institute introduced its CoolCube™, a low-temperature process flow that provides a true path to 3DVLSI.At Stanford University, researchers are designing monolithic 3D ICs using carbon nanotube (CNT) structures vs. silicon using a wafer-scale low temperature CNT transfer processes that can be done at 120℃.
In general, monolithic 3D ICs are still a developing technology and are considered by most to be several years away from production.
As of 2014, a number of memory products such as High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) and the Hybrid Memory Cube have been launched that implement 3D IC stacking with TSVs. There are a number of key stacking approaches being implemented and explored. These include die-to-die, die-to-wafer, and wafer-to-wafer.
While traditional CMOS scaling processes improves signal propagation speed, scaling from current manufacturing and chip-design technologies is becoming more difficult and costly, in part because of power-density constraints, and in part because interconnects do not become faster while transistors do.3D ICs address the scaling challenge by stacking 2D dies and connecting them in the 3rd dimension. This promises to speed up communication between layered chips, compared to planar layout. 3D ICs promise many significant benefits, including:
Because this technology is new it carries new challenges, including:
Depending on partitioning granularity, different design styles can be distinguished. Gate-level integration faces multiple challenges and currently appears less practical than block-level integration.
In 2004 Tezzaron Semiconductor built working 3D devices from six different designs.The chips were built in two layers with "via-first" tungsten TSVs for vertical interconnection. Two wafers were stacked face-to-face and bonded with a copper process. The top wafer was thinned and the two-wafer stack was then diced into chips. The first chip tested was a simple memory register, but the most notable of the set was an 8051 processor/memory stack that exhibited much higher speed and lower power consumption than an analogous 2D assembly.
In 2004, Intel presented a 3D version of the Pentium 4 CPU.The chip was manufactured with two dies using face-to-face stacking, which allowed a dense via structure. Backside TSVs are used for I/O and power supply. For the 3D floorplan, designers manually arranged functional blocks in each die aiming for power reduction and performance improvement. Splitting large and high-power blocks and careful rearrangement allowed to limit thermal hotspots. The 3D design provides 15% performance improvement (due to eliminated pipeline stages) and 15% power saving (due to eliminated repeaters and reduced wiring) compared to the 2D Pentium 4.
The Teraflops Research Chip introduced in 2007 by Intel is an experimental 80-core design with stacked memory. Due to the high demand for memory bandwidth, a traditional I/O approach would consume 10 to 25 W. To improve upon that, Intel designers implemented a TSV-based memory bus. Each core is connected to one memory tile in the SRAM die with a link that provides 12 GB/s bandwidth, resulting in a total bandwidth of 1 TB/s while consuming only 2.2 W.
An academic implementation of a 3D processor was presented in 2008 at the University of Rochester by Professor Eby Friedman and his students. The chip runs at a 1.4 GHz and it was designed for optimized vertical processing between the stacked chips which gives the 3D processor abilities that the traditional one layered chip could not reach. One challenge in manufacturing of the three-dimensional chip was to make all of the layers work in harmony without any obstacles that would interfere with a piece of information traveling from one layer to another.
In ISSCC 2012, two 3D-IC-based multi-core designs using GlobalFoundries' 130 nm process and Tezzaron's FaStack technology were presented and demonstrated. 3D-MAPS, a 64 custom core implementation with two-logic-die stack was demonstrated by researchers from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. The second prototype was from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at University of Michigan called Centip3De, a near-threshold design based on ARM Cortex-M3 cores.
Semiconductor device fabrication is the process used to create the integrated circuits that are present in everyday electrical and electronic devices. It is a multiple-step sequence of photolithographic and chemical processing steps during which electronic circuits are gradually created on a wafer made of pure semiconducting material. Silicon is almost always used, but various compound semiconductors are used for specialized applications.
Very-large-scale integration (VLSI) is the process of creating an integrated circuit (IC) by combining hundreds of thousands of transistors or devices into a single chip. VLSI began in the 1970s when complex semiconductor and communication technologies were being developed. The microprocessor is a VLSI device. Before the introduction of VLSI technology most ICs had a limited set of functions they could perform. An electronic circuit might consist of a CPU, ROM, RAM and other glue logic. VLSI lets IC designers add all of these into one chip.
An application-specific integrated circuit is an integrated circuit (IC) customized for a particular use, rather than intended for general-purpose use. For example, a chip designed to run in a digital voice recorder or a high-efficiency bitcoin miner is an ASIC. Application-specific standard products (ASSPs) are intermediate between ASICs and industry standard integrated circuits like the 7400 series or the 4000 series.
Wafer testing is a step performed during semiconductor device fabrication. During this step, performed before a wafer is sent to die preparation, all individual integrated circuits that are present on the wafer are tested for functional defects by applying special test patterns to them. The wafer testing is performed by a piece of test equipment called a wafer prober. The process of wafer testing can be referred to in several ways: Wafer Final Test (WFT), Electronic Die Sort (EDS) and Circuit Probe (CP) are probably the most common.
A hybrid integrated circuit (HIC), hybrid microcircuit, hybrid circuit or simply hybrid is a miniaturized electronic circuit constructed of individual devices, such as semiconductor devices and passive components, bonded to a substrate or printed circuit board (PCB). A PCB having components on a Printed Wiring Board (PWB) is not considered a hybrid circuit according to the definition of MIL-PRF-38534.
The back end of line (BEOL) is the second portion of IC fabrication where the individual devices get interconnected with wiring on the wafer, the metalization layer. Common metals are copper and aluminum. BEOL generally begins when the first layer of metal is deposited on the wafer. BEOL includes contacts, insulating layers (dielectrics), metal levels, and bonding sites for chip-to-package connections.
A multi-chip module (MCM) is generically an electronic assembly where multiple integrated circuits, semiconductor dies and/or other discrete components are integrated, usually onto a unifying substrate, so that in use it is treated as if it were a single component . Other terms, such as "hybrid" or "hybrid integrated circuit", also refer to MCMs.
Integrated circuit design, or IC design, is a subset of electronics engineering, encompassing the particular logic and circuit design techniques required to design integrated circuits, or ICs. ICs consist of miniaturized electronic components built into an electrical network on a monolithic semiconductor substrate by photolithography.
Lam Research Corporation is an American corporation that engages in the design, manufacture, marketing, and service of semiconductor processing equipment used in the fabrication of integrated circuits. Its products are used primarily in front-end wafer processing, which involves the steps that create the active components of semiconductor devices and their wiring (interconnects). The company also builds equipment for back-end wafer-level packaging (WLP), and for related manufacturing markets such as for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).
In electronic engineering, a through-silicon via (TSV) or through-chip via is a vertical electrical connection (via) that passes completely through a silicon wafer or die. TSVs are high performance interconnect techniques used as an alternative to wire-bond and flip chips to create 3D packages and 3D integrated circuits. Compared to alternatives such as package-on-package, the interconnect and device density is substantially higher, and the length of the connections becomes shorter.
In integrated circuits, optical interconnects refers to any system of transmitting signals from one part of an integrated circuit to another using light. Optical interconnects have been the topic of study due to the high latency and power consumption incurred by conventional metal interconnects in transmitting electrical signals over long distances, such as in interconnects classed as global interconnects. The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) has highlighted interconnect scaling as a problem for the semiconductor industry.
Wafer-level packaging (WLP) is the technology of packaging an integrated circuit while still part of the wafer, in contrast to the more conventional method of slicing the wafer into individual circuits (dice) and then packaging them. WLP is essentially a true chip-scale package (CSP) technology, since the resulting package is practically of the same size as the die. Wafer-level packaging allows integration of wafer fab, packaging, test, and burn-in at wafer level in order to streamline the manufacturing process undergone by a device from silicon start to customer shipment.
Embedded Wafer Level Ball Grid Array (eWLB) is a packaging technology for integrated circuits. The package interconnects are applied on an artificial wafer made of silicon chips and a casting compound.
Advanced Semiconductor Engineering, Inc., also known as ASE Group, is a provider of independent semiconductor assembling and test manufacturing services, with its headquarters in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Fan-out wafer-level packaging is an integrated circuit packaging technology, and an enhancement of standard wafer-level packaging (WLP) solutions.
In integrated circuits (ICs), interconnects are structures that connect two or more circuit elements together electrically. The design and layout of interconnects on an IC is vital to its proper function, performance, power efficiency, reliability, and fabrication yield. The material interconnects are made from depends on many factors. Chemical and mechanical compatibility with the semiconductor substrate, and the dielectric in between the levels of interconnect is necessary, otherwise barrier layers are needed. Suitability for fabrication is also required; some chemistries and processes prevent integration of materials and unit processes into a larger technology (recipe) for IC fabrication. In fabrication, interconnects are formed during the back-end-of-line after the fabrication of the transistors on the substrate.
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