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Globalfoundries preps for 20nm TSVs

Posted: 02 May 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:20nm? TSV? 3D chip stack?

Globalfoundries Inc. is installing equipment to make through-silicon vias in its Fab 8 in New York. If all goes well, the company hopes to take production orders in the second half of 2013 for 3D chip stacks using 20nm and 28nm process technology.

Globalfoundries is working with multiple packaging companies including Amkor to develop process flows to create stacks with through-silicon vias (TSVs). The foundry's archrival, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., announced last year it will go it alone, handling all steps in the 3D stacking process in a move TSMC said will reduce costs and risks of shipping the thin wafers the technique requires.

"Our customers have asked us for an alternative path," said Dave McCann, senior director of packaging R&D for Globalfoundries.

Dave McCann

McCann: Our model is more difficult to bring up in the beginning, but we think it will result in the best long term solution for the industry.

"They don't want to have all their business controlled at one spotthey like the transparency in yields, pricing and choice," said McCann who left Amkor a year ago to join the foundry. "Bringing it all in house negates the expertise of the packaging companies, and we need to access their experts," he said.

Some chip designers want to define their own supply chain for 3D chip stacks, others will let Globalfoundries set up the supply chain, McCann said.

"There won't be just one supply chain," he said. "Our model is more difficult to bring up in the beginning, but we think it will result in the best long term solution for the industry," he added.

The news is the latest milestone in the industry's move toward joining multiple die in a single package using vertical TSV copper interconnects. The approach is expected to bolster chip performance by dramatically increasing the speed and bandwidth of links between logic and memory chips.

Globalfoundries is spending "tens of millions" on a tool suite. It includes unspecified suppliers of systems to add a thick photo resist to find TSV locations and etch the vias, as well as systems to deposit an oxide layer into the holes, put in barrier and seed layers for copper and handle CMP planarization.

The systems should be in place and qualified by the end of July, with about half of them installed today, McCann said. The company aims to run its first 20nm test wafers with TSVs in October and have data on packaged chips from its partners by the end of the year.

Globalfoundries' schedule calls for having reliability data in hand early next year. The data will be used to update the company's process design kits so its customers can start their qualification tests in the first half of the year.

If all goes well, first commercial product runs of 20nm and 28nm wafers with TSVs can start in the second half of 2013 and ramp into full production in 2014, McCann said.

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