Through-silicon via

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TSVs used by stacked DRAM-dice in combination with a High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) interface High Bandwidth Memory schematic.svg
TSVs used by stacked DRAM-dice in combination with a High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) interface

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.

Electronic engineering electrical engineering discipline which utilizes nonlinear and active electrical components to design electronic circuits, devices, and their systems

Electronic engineering is an electrical engineering discipline which utilizes nonlinear and active electrical components to design electronic circuits, devices, VLSI devices and their systems. The discipline typically also designs passive electrical components, usually based on printed circuit boards. thic eletrical boards

A via or VIA is an electrical connection between layers in a physical electronic circuit that goes through the plane of one or more adjacent layers. To ensure via robustness, IPC sponsored a round-robin exercise that developed a time to failure calculator.

Die (integrated circuit) an unpackaged integrated circuit

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.



Visualizing via-first, via-middle and via-last TSVs Through-Silicon Via Flavours.svg
Visualizing via-first, via-middle and via-last TSVs

Dictated by the manufacturing process, there exist three different types of TSVs: via-first TSVs are fabricated before the individual devices (transistors, capacitors, resistors, etc.) are patterned (front end of line, FEOL), via-middle TSVs are fabricated after the individual devices are patterned but before the metal layers (back-end-of-line, BEOL), and via-last TSVs are fabricated after (or during) the BEOL process. [1] [2] Via-middle TSVs are currently a popular option for advanced 3D ICs as well as for interposer stacks. [2] [3]

Transistor Basic electronics component

A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. It is composed of semiconductor material usually with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals controls the current through another pair of terminals. Because the controlled (output) power can be higher than the controlling (input) power, a transistor can amplify a signal. Today, some transistors are packaged individually, but many more are found embedded in integrated circuits.

Capacitor Passive two-terminal electronic component that stores electrical energy in an electric field

A capacitor is a device that stores electrical energy in an electric field. It is a passive electronic component with two terminals.

Resistor Passive electrical component providing electrical resistance

A resistor is a passive two-terminal electrical component that implements electrical resistance as a circuit element. In electronic circuits, resistors are used to reduce current flow, adjust signal levels, to divide voltages, bias active elements, and terminate transmission lines, among other uses. High-power resistors that can dissipate many watts of electrical power as heat, may be used as part of motor controls, in power distribution systems, or as test loads for generators. Fixed resistors have resistances that only change slightly with temperature, time or operating voltage. Variable resistors can be used to adjust circuit elements, or as sensing devices for heat, light, humidity, force, or chemical activity.

TSVs through the front end of line (FEOL) have to be carefully accounted for during the EDA and manufacturing phases. That is because TSVs induce thermo-mechanical stress in the FEOL layer, thereby impacting the transistor behaviour. [4]

Front end of line

The front-end-of-line (FEOL) is the first portion of IC fabrication where the individual devices are patterned in the semiconductor. FEOL generally covers everything up to the deposition of metal interconnect layers.

Electronic design automation (EDA), also referred to as electronic computer-aided design (ECAD), is a category of software tools for designing electronic systems such as integrated circuits and printed circuit boards. The tools work together in a design flow that chip designers use to design and analyze entire semiconductor chips. Since a modern semiconductor chip can have billions of components, EDA tools are essential for their design.

Stress (mechanics) physical quantity that expresses internal forces in a continuous material

In continuum mechanics, stress is a physical quantity that expresses the internal forces that neighbouring particles of a continuous material exert on each other, while strain is the measure of the deformation of the material which is not a physical quantity. For example, when a solid vertical bar is supporting an overhead weight, each particle in the bar pushes on the particles immediately below it. When a liquid is in a closed container under pressure, each particle gets pushed against by all the surrounding particles. The container walls and the pressure-inducing surface push against them in (Newtonian) reaction. These macroscopic forces are actually the net result of a very large number of intermolecular forces and collisions between the particles in those molecules. Stress is frequently represented by a lowercase Greek letter sigma (σ).


Image sensors

CMOS image sensors (CIS) were among the first applications to adopt TSV(s) in volume manufacturing. In initial CIS applications, TSVs were formed on the backside of the image sensor wafer to form interconnects, eliminate wire bonds, and allow for reduced form factor and higher-density interconnects. Chip stacking came about only with the advent of backside illuminated (BSI) CIS, and involved reversing the order of the lens, circuitry, and photodiode from traditional front-side illumination so that the light coming through the lens first hits the photodiode and then the circuitry. This was accomplished by flipping the photodiode wafer, thinning the backside, and then bonding it on top of the readout layer using a direct oxide bond, with TSVs as interconnects around the perimeter. [5]

Image sensor device that converts an optical image into an electronic signal

An image sensor or imager is a sensor that detects and conveys information used to make an image. It does so by converting the variable attenuation of light waves into signals, small bursts of current that convey the information. The waves can be light or other electromagnetic radiation. Image sensors are used in electronic imaging devices of both analog and digital types, which include digital cameras, camera modules, optical mouse devices, medical imaging equipment, night vision equipment such as thermal imaging devices, radar, sonar, and others. As technology changes, electronic and digital imaging tends to replace chemical and analog imaging.

Back-illuminated sensor

A back-illuminated sensor, also known as backside illumination sensor, is a type of digital image sensor that uses a novel arrangement of the imaging elements to increase the amount of light captured and thereby improve low-light performance.

3D packages

A 3D package (System in Package, Chip Stack MCM, etc.) contains two or more chips (integrated circuits) stacked vertically so that they occupy less space and/or have greater connectivity. An alternate type of 3D package can be found in IBM's Silicon Carrier Packaging Technology, where ICs are not stacked but a carrier substrate containing TSVs is used to connect multiple ICs together in a package. In most 3D packages, the stacked chips are wired together along their edges; this edge wiring slightly increases the length and width of the package and usually requires an extra “interposer” layer between the chips. In some new 3D packages, TSVs replace edge wiring by creating vertical connections through the body of the chips. The resulting package has no added length or width. Because no interposer is required, a TSV 3D package can also be flatter than an edge-wired 3D package. This TSV technique is sometimes also referred to as TSS (Through-Silicon Stacking or Thru-Silicon Stacking).

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.

Interposer electrical interface

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 integrated circuits

A 3D integrated circuit (3D IC) is a single integrated circuit built by stacking silicon wafers and/or dies and interconnecting them vertically so that they behave as a single device. By using TSV technology, 3D ICs can pack a great deal of functionality into a small “footprint.” The different devices in the stack may be heterogeneous, e.g. combining CMOS logic, DRAM and III-V materials into a single IC. In addition, critical electrical paths through the device can be drastically shortened, leading to faster operation. The Wide I/O 3D DRAM memory standard (JEDEC JESD229) includes TSV in the design. [6]

CMOS Technology for constructing integrated circuits

Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS), also known as complementary-symmetry metal–oxide–semiconductor (COS-MOS), is a type of MOSFET fabrication process that uses complementary and symmetrical pairs of p-type and n-type MOSFETs for logic functions. CMOS technology is used for constructing integrated circuits (ICs), including microprocessors, microcontrollers, memory chips, and other digital logic circuits. CMOS technology is also used for analog circuits such as image sensors, data converters, RF circuits, and highly integrated transceivers for many types of communication.

Dynamic random-access memory random-access memory that stores each bit of data in a separate capacitor within an integrated circuit

Dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) is a type of random access semiconductor memory that stores each bit of data in a memory cell consisting of a tiny capacitor and a transistor, both typically based on metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) technology. The capacitor can either be charged or discharged; these two states are taken to represent the two values of a bit, conventionally called 0 and 1. The electric charge on the capacitors slowly leaks off, so without intervention the data on the chip would soon be lost. To prevent this, DRAM requires an external memory refresh circuit which periodically rewrites the data in the capacitors, restoring them to their original charge. This refresh process is the defining characteristic of dynamic random-access memory, in contrast to static random-access memory (SRAM) which does not require data to be refreshed. Unlike flash memory, DRAM is volatile memory, since it loses its data quickly when power is removed. However, DRAM does exhibit limited data remanence.

JEDEC standards organization

The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association is an independent semiconductor engineering trade organization and standardization body.


The origins of the TSV concept can be traced back to William Shockley's patent "Semiconductive Wafer and Method of Making the Same" filed in 1958 and granted in 1962, [7] [8] which was further developed by IBM researchers Merlin Smith and Emanuel Stern with their patent "Methods of Making Thru-Connections in Semiconductor Wafers" filed in 1964 and granted in 1967, [9] [10] the latter describing a method for etching a hole through silicon. [11] TSV was not originally designed for 3D integration, but the first 3D chips based on TSV were invented later in the 1980s. [12]

The first three-dimensional integrated circuit (3D IC) stacked chips fabricated with a TSV process were invented in 1980s Japan. Hitachi filed a Japanese patent in 1983, followed by Fujitsu in 1984. In 1986, Fujitsu filed a Japanese patent describing a stacked chip structure using TSV. [13] In 1989, Mitsumasa Koyonagi of Tohoku University pioneered the technique of wafer-to-wafer bonding with TSV, which he used to fabricate a 3D LSI chip in 1989. [13] [14] [15] In 1999, the Association of Super-Advanced Electronics Technologies (ASET) in Japan began funding the development of 3D IC chips using TSV technology, called the "R&D on High Density Electronic System Integration Technology" project. [13] [16] The Koyanagi Group at Tohoku University used TSV technology to fabricate a three-layer stacked image sensor chip in 1999, a three-layer memory chip in 2000, a three-layer artificial retina chip in 2001, a three-layer microprocessor in 2002, and a ten-layer memory chip in 2005. [14]

The inter-chip via (ICV) method was developed in 1997 by a Fraunhofer Siemens research team including Peter Ramm, D. Bollmann, R. Braun, R. Buchner, U. Cao-Minh, Manfred Engelhardt and Armin Klumpp. [17] It was a variation of the TSV process, and was later called SLID (solid liquid inter-diffusion) technology. [18]

The term "through-silicon via" (TSV) was coined by Tru-Si Technologies researchers Sergey Savastiouk, O. Siniaguine, and E. Korczynski, who proposed a TSV method for a 3D wafer-level packaging (WLP) solution in 2000. [19] Savastiouk later became the co-founder and CEO of ALLVIA Inc. From the beginning, his vision of the business plan was to create a through silicon interconnect since these would offer significant performance improvements over wire bonds. Savastiouk published two articles on the topic in Solid State Technology, first in January 2000 and again in 2010. The first article “Moore’s Law – The Z Dimension” was published in Solid State Technology magazine in January 2000. [20] This article outlined the roadmap of the TSV development as a transition from 2D chip stacking to wafer level stacking in the future. In one of the sections titled Through Silicon Vias, Dr. Sergey Savastiouk wrote, “Investment in technologies that provide both wafer-level vertical miniaturization (wafer thinning) and preparation for vertical integration (through silicon vias) makes good sense.” He continued, “By removing the arbitrary 2D conceptual barrier associated with Moore’s Law, we can open up a new dimension in ease of design, test, and manufacturing of IC packages. When we need it the most – for portable computing, memory cards, smart cards, cellular phones, and other uses – we can follow Moore’s Law into the Z dimension.” This was the first time the term "through-silicon via" was used in a technical publication.

CMOS image sensors utilising TSV were commercialized by companies including Toshiba, Aptina and STMicroelectronics during 20072008, with Toshiba naming their technology "Through Chip Via" (TCV). 3D-stacked random-access memory (RAM) was commercialized by Elpida Memory, which developed the first 8  GB DRAM chip (stacked with four DDR3 SDRAM dies) in September 2009, and released it in June 2011. TSMC announced plans for 3D IC production with TSV technology in January 2010. [21] In 2011, SK Hynix introduced 16 GB DDR3 SDRAM (40 nm class) using TSV technology, [22] Samsung Electronics introduced 3D-stacked 32 GB DDR3 (30 nm class) based on TSV in September, and then Samsung and Micron Technology announced TSV-based Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) technology in October. [21] SK Hynix manufactured the first High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) chip, based on TSV technology, in 2013. [22]

Related Research Articles

Integrated circuit electronic circuit manufactured by lithography; set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece (or "chip") of semiconductor material, normally silicon

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 MOS transistors into a small chip results in circuits that are orders of magnitude smaller, faster, and less expensive 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 IC's 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.

Semiconductor device fabrication manufacturing process used to create integrated circuits

Semiconductor device fabrication is the process used to manufacture semiconductor devices, typically the metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) devices used in the integrated circuit (IC) chips 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.

Hybrid integrated circuit miniaturized electronic circuit combining different semiconductor devices and passive components on a substrate

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.

Back end of line in integrated circuit fabrication

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.

Multi-chip module discrete electronic assembly containing multiple integrated circuits that behaves as a unit

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 can be treated as if it were a larger IC. Other terms, such as "hybrid" or "hybrid integrated circuit", also refer to MCMs. The individual ICs that make up an MCM are known as Chiplets. Intel and AMD are using MCMs to improve performance and reduce costs, as splitting a large monolithic IC into smaller chiplets allows for more ICs per wafer, and improved yield, as smaller dies have a reduced risk of getting destroyed by dust particles during semiconductor fabrication. Each chiplet is physically smaller than a conventional monolithic IC die,. An example of MCMs in use for mainstream CPUs is AMD's Zen 2 design.

Integrated circuit design Engineering process for electronic hardware

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.

In an integrated circuit, a signal can couple from one node to another via the substrate. This phenomenon is referred to as substrate coupling or substrate noise coupling.

Package on package (PoP) is an integrated circuit packaging method to combine vertically discrete logic and memory ball grid array (BGA) packages. Two or more packages are installed atop each other, i.e. stacked, with a standard interface to route signals between them. This allows higher component density in devices, such as mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDA), and digital cameras.

A three-dimensional integrated circuit is a MOS integrated circuit (IC) 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. The 3D IC is one of several 3D integration schemes that exploit the z-direction to achieve electrical performance benefits, in microelectronics and nanoelectronics.

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.

Embedded Wafer Level Ball Grid Array

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.

The integrated circuit (IC) chip was invented during 1958–1959. The idea of integrating electronic circuits into a single device was born when the German physicist and engineer Werner Jacobi developed and patented the first known integrated transistor amplifier in 1949 and the British radio engineer Geoffrey Dummer proposed to integrate a variety of standard electronic components in a monolithic semiconductor crystal in 1952. A year later, Harwick Johnson filed a patent for a prototype IC. Between 1953 and 1957, Sidney Darlington and Yasuro Tarui proposed similar chip designs where several transistors could share a common active area, but there was no electrical isolation to separate them from each other.

Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) is a high-performance RAM interface for through-silicon vias (TSV)-based stacked DRAM memory competing with the incompatible rival interface High Bandwidth Memory (HBM).

High Bandwidth Memory high-performance RAM interface for 3D-stacked DRAM from AMD and Hynix

High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) is a high-performance RAM interface for 3D-stacked SDRAM from Samsung, AMD and SK Hynix. It is to be used in conjunction with high-performance graphics accelerators and network devices. The first HBM memory chip was produced by SK Hynix in 2013, and the first devices to use HBM were the AMD Fiji GPUs in 2015.

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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