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TAITRA: TSMC, Intel to battle over 3D chips

Posted: 07 Jul 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:3D? tri-gate transistors? FinFet? through silicon vias?

According to a report by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), chip foundry giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) is planning to release its first semiconductors with 3D interconnects by the end of this year. TSMC's chips could beat Intel Corp. to the punch in putting into market the first 3D chips.

The report quoted an anonymous source saying TSMC's projected delivery of 3D chips coincides with Intel's release of its own 3D chips. Intel announced with great fanfare in May that it would begin high-volume production of 3D chips using tri-gate transistors by the end of the year.

While the TAITRA report pits TSMC against Intel in a race to produce the first 3D chips, the technologies at issue are actually quite different. TSMC and others have for some time been developing technology for chips with 3D interconnect or through silicon vias (TSVs). TSVs are vertical connections that pass through die to connect different layers of a chip within the same package. Intel's tri-gates are actually 3D transistors, known outside Intel as a FinFets because the silicon channel is akin to a fin jutting up from the semiconductor substrate.

According to the TAITRA report, 3D technology boosts the density of transistors in a single chip by up to 1000 times. The 3D devices are also expected to consume about 50 percent less energy. The new technology is expected to override a number of difficulties posed by traditional "planar" transistors, which can only move electrons across two dimensions, according to the report.

Shang-Yi Chiang, senior vice president for R&D at TSMC, was quoted in the TAITRA report saying TSMC has been working closely with chip packagers and providers of design auto software to commercialize 3D chip technology.

- Dylan McGrath
??EE Times





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