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IBM-led alliance ups investment in 32nm packaging

Posted: 08 Nov 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IC packaging? 32nm technology? 300mm fab?

The Common Platform alliance plans to increase its investment in semiconductor packaging technology to pave the way to 32nm devices.

The IBM-led group, which includes Chartered Semiconductor and Samsung should double its current level of spending in the area, according to an IBM executive at an event sponsored by the group.

"Our silicon road map is very robust, but our packaging investment is not where it needs to be," said Michael Cadigan, general manager for semiconductor solutions at IBM. "Three or four years from now we face significant new thermal and I/O density requirements that require greater investment in packaging," he added.

Smaller form factor packages and stacking technology are two areas where the group needs to place more focus, Cadigan said. Although packaging specialist Amkor Technology is part of the alliance, the group has "not yet fully engaged in advanced packaging issues with them," he added.

"We cannot make 32nm devices without new high density packaging technologies such as through-hole vias," said Philippe Magarshack, a group VP at STMicroelectronics (ST), one of the newest members of the alliance. ST joined the Common Platform group in July to gain access to its 32nm technology and expects to have a 45nm process available in late 2008 as part of its co-development with the Crolles consortium.

Need to collaborate
In a panel discussion, members and partners rallied around the importance of collaborating at a time of steeply rising chip-development costs. The industry saw development costs rise a whopping 200 percent for the 65nm over 90nm generation, said Adalio Sanchez, general manager of IBM's global engineering services group.

"The number of people who can spend three to six billion dollars on a new fab is small and shrinking," said Bill McKean, VP of external manufacturing at Freescale Semiconductor. In this environment, many companies are extending the lives of their 200mm fabs and holding off on investments in next-generation 300mm fabs, he added. "The 45- and 32nm chips are beyond the reach of any one company," Magarshack said.

Meanwhile, Synopsys chief executive Aart de Geus said, "Collaboration is not voluntary at all. If you do not work together you do not have a chance," said. He added that the success of the Common Platform group "is not a done deal, it's a work-in-progress," de Geus said. "But it has a chance."

De Geus said his company was able to fabricate its high-speed serdes cores at both Chartered and Samsung and the resulting eye diagrams of the parts were very similar. "That's an enormous achievement and that's one of the reasons why I am still at this table thinking this is a good bet," he added.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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