At TSMC’s latest earnings call held mid January 2014, an analyst asked TSMC for a revenue forecast for their emerging 2.5/3D product line. C.C. Wei, President and Co-CEO answered: “800 Million Dollars in 2016 ”. TSMC has demonstrated great vision many times before. For me, an enthusiastic supporter of this technology, this statement represents a big moral boost. I had the opportunity to drive Synopsys’ support for the early TSMC reference flows and saw how this strategic move has paid off very well, for the entire Fabless EcoSystem. In my humble opinion, 2.5 and 3D ICs will have a great impact on our industry such as the TSMC’s reference flows have.
TSMC’s prediction for 2.5/3D revenues confirms what I see and hear: Several large companies and an impressive number of smaller ones are starting or are already relying on 2.5/3D technology for their products that will become available sometime between 2014-16. Why rely on 2.5/3D technology? Because continued shrinking of feature sizes, including FinFETs, is no longer economical for many applications. Likewise, wire-bonded multi-die solutions or package-on-package can no longer meet performance- and power requirements.
How can busy engineering teams quickly evaluate and choose the best alternative between current and the new 2.5 or 3D-IC solutions?
Based on the fact that this technology shifts a major part of the value creation into the package – packaging is becoming more important and must be considered PRIOR to silicon development. This new book expresses much of the packaging expertise Professor Swaminathan has gained in the last 20 years while working at IBM and teaching / researching at GeorgiaTech. Together with Ki Jin Han, they address most of the topics system- and IC designers need to consider when utilizing 2.5 and 3D-ICs solutions. Professor Swaminathan is also accumulating hands-on 2.5 and 3D experiences as CTO of E-System Design, an EDA start-up in this field. Their 2.5/3D book is available at Amazon.com.
The book explains in Chapter 1 why interconnect delays and the related power dissipation are constraining designers and how Through-Silicon-Vias (TSVs) help to finally break down the dreaded “Memory Wall”. Either a 2.5D IC (die side-by-side on an interposer) OR a 3D IC (vertically stacked die) solution can better meet the performance, power, system cost, etc requirements. But before expensive implementation is started, the various options available in either need to be objectively evaluated. Both solutions increase bandwidth while lowering power dissipation, latency and package height. In addition, they simplify integration of heterogeneous functions in a package, for example combining a large amount of memory with a multi-core CPU or adding analog/RF circuits to a logic die.
Chapter 2’s primary target audience is modeling and design tools developers. It explains how to accurately simulate the impact of TSVs, solder balls and bonding wires on high-speed designs – information also useful for package and IC designers.
Chapter 3 dives into a lot of practical considerations for designing with the above mentioned IC building blocks.
Chapter 4 focuses on signal integrity challenges, coupling between TSV as well as power and ground plane requirements. Both silicon and glass interposers are covered.
Chapter 5 addresses power distribution and thermal management and Chapter 6 looks at future concepts currently in development for solving 2.5/3D-IC design challenges.
The many formulas and examples in this book make it a great reference for experienced IC and package designers.