Sematech announced this week that it is opening up its 3D interconnect program, inviting IDMs, EDA companies, foundries, equipment and materials suppliers, and assembly and test companies to join the 3D program. Program manager Sitaram Arkalgud discussed the expanded 3D program at Sematech.
Q. Is this a big change for Sematech?
Arkalgud: It is a big change. In the past, a member had to be an IDM and then join all of Sematech, including the main programs of litho, front-end, and back end.
In the 3D program, as we looked more and more at the through-silicon-via approach, we realized we needed participation from the assembly folks and design houses, as well as equipment and materials suppliers. To get the full benefits of through-silicon vias, we need to have to have all the parties working together. We found a lot of interest from very diverse players.
Q. There are many forms of vertical integration. The stacked chips in a package are a lot different than the through-silicon via approaches, right?
Arkalgud: Stacked chips had an easy entry. Here, it is a lot more than that. However, the assembly folks say they are already doing 3D by doing chip stacking, and they see that through-silicon vias could be the next big step for them.
To get all the advantages of through-silicon vias we have to talk to the design folks, and build a new part. It is not an assembly-line approach where we can slap a couple of chips together.
Some IDMs look at the very high end, with fine pitches and many vias.
Q. What about the Taiwan foundries?
Arkalgud: They do have 3D projects going on. We have also talked to the fabless companies. There are integration, reliability, and infrastructure-development aspects of the program, and a fabless company may only be interested in parts of the whole, leaving their foundry to do the rest.
Q. Japan and Singapore have big programs going on?
Arkalgud: Next week I’ll be attending a conference in Tokyo, organized by the ASET consortium. Singapore has a lot going on also.
Q. Does Sematech already have companies that are likely to join the program?
Arkalgud: Yes, and from across the industry. Tokyo Electron (TEL) joined the 3D program in January. We do have a broad interest. Our current Sematech members are automatically part of it, so we get funding that way. We have a rough assumption how many companies will join. Based on that we have our program, and we can scale up or down depending on the funding.
Also, we can push out the schedule for certain areas, or make changes if we have several different companies interested in certain areas. We will be member-driven at the end of the day. The more members we have, the broader approach we can take.
Due to the level of interest we are seeing, I don’t think we will have too many issues getting the program funded.
Monday: Technical challenges face 3D interconnects.