3D-IC Challenges Addressed at SEMICON Singapore

3D-IC Challenges Addressed at SEMICON Singapore

Singapore is a well-established manufacturing and business hub in Southeast Asia. Noting the island country’s remarkable GDP growth from $20 billion in 1980 to more than $300 billion in 2010, SEMI Singapore Regional Advisory Board chairman Rodney Morgan commented on the vast opportunity and diversity of the region at its largest microelectronics manufacturing event, SEMICON Singapore. The 19th edition of the annual event was held recently at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Center and focused on pressing challenges in advanced semiconductor packaging including three-dimensional interconnects to produce smaller, thinner and more efficient devices for an increasing array of mobile and computing applications.

Singapore’s electronics sector grew rapidly in the 1970’s and 1980’s and continued to be buoyed by government incentives for “high precision engineering and semiconductors” through the 1990’s. Now, with an eye toward a multi-year industry expansion, a number of the world’s leading semiconductor players have announced major investments or plant expansion projects in Singapore. Currently, Singapore has 14 wafer fabrication plants, including the world’s top three wafer foundries.  Singapore also has 20 semiconductor assembly and test operations, including three of the world’s top six outsourced assembly and test companies. There are about 40 IC design centers, which comprise nine of the world’s “top 10” fabless IC design companies.

Facilitating better communication between manufacturers and their suppliers is an important issue and improves supply chain efficiency. With this in mind, SEMICON Singapore featured viewpoints of manufacturing leaders and their global suppliers on how to ensure that Moore’s Law will continue through the decade. The exhibition and conference provided a platform to source technology solutions while allowing partners and buyers to find a better way for industry collaboration and to further advance industry growth and profitability.

To help drive regional competitiveness, SEMICON Singapore featured a 3D-IC forum and gallery in collaboration with the Institute for Microelectronics (IME). Forum presenters and panelists tackled the tough issues of 2.5D/3D-IC commercialization and the many challenges that must be overcome to help manufacturers achieve cost-competitive adoption of the technology. Featured speakers from leading companies — such as Aptina, ASE, Hitachi Chemical, Lam Research, Novellus, SEMATECH, Silecs International, SPTS, STATS ChipPAC, Tech Search International, Tezzaron Corporation and Xilinx — shared their viewpoints.

Moore’s law has reliably driven silicon scaling for several decades. As the semiconductor manufacturing world moves into the “More than Moore” 2.5D/3D space, more opportunities exist   that further increase the functionality and performance of semiconductor ICs. Enabled by 2.5D and 3D-IC technology, designers can now design and build high-performance and energy-efficient systems using heterogeneous technologies such as CMOS (including multiple logic, memory technology nodes), MEMS, Si Photonics, etc.  According to Yole Développment, the shipment volume of 3D-IC wafers will reach 10 million units in 2012.

Dr. Ho-Ming Tong, general manager and chief R&D officer of ASE, noted: “Despite progress in 3D-IC development over the past years, challenges remain in the areas of cost control, design, mass production and testing in the lead-up to commercialization. The readiness of silicon interposer-based 2.5D-IC technology will expedite migration from the 40-nm node to 28-nm. With computing and smart devices fueling growth of the market, broader commercialization of 2.5D and 3D-ICs may take place in 2013.”

"To address the challenges of taking 2.5D/3D systems to high-volume manufacturing, collaborative partnerships are very critical. IME has established strategic partnerships with leading players in the semiconductor ecosystem to co-develop cost effective 3D-IC integration and process technologies in Singapore," said Professor Dim-Lee Kwong, executive director of IME. “Our new 300mm advanced packaging facility will provide deeper and broader capabilities to our partners to overcome the challenges in 3D-IC.”

2.5D and 3D-IC: On the Way to High Volume Manufacturing

A panel discussion about advanced packaging moderated by Jan Vardaman, president of TechSearch International, featured a lively discussion among a distinguished list of panel members:

  • Mr. Sesh Ramaswami, managing director of Strategy, Applied Materials
  • Dr. Itsuo Watanabe, executive officer, Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd.
  • Dr. Rajendra Phendse, vice president and chief marketing officer, STATS ChipPAC
  • Mr. Robert Patti, CTO and VP of Design Engineering, Tezzaron Corporation
  • Mr. Vincent Tong, senior VP, Xilinx

Panelists provided insight into key issues limiting 3D TSV HVM and the need for

standardization. Seth Ramaswami of Applied Materials outlined the clear need for the OSATs to be involved in setting the standards and issued a call for working with SEMI to help develop standards that will move the industry along. Issues with the supply chain emerged as a common theme. Xilinx is working with TSMC and OSATs and wants both interconnect models to be successful. Cost/yield is the biggest challenge. According to Robert Patti, “It’s complicated,” and standardization is needed, particularly in areas that have received little attention, such as relevant wafer definitions.  STATS ChipPAC sees the OSATS as the integrator that procures and manages inventory. The hand-off point needs to be clear and the end customer can help define who does what.  Dr. Watanabe from Hitachi Chemicals described the issues facing material suppliers to gain insight from a single source on the needs for materials.

The panelists agreed that temporary bonding is an area that still requires work. The use of interposers (as a long-term solution or as a stepping stone) was discussed, with mixed responses.  The potential for laminate substrates with fine feature sizes as a future alternative was raised as a possibility. Thermal issues and the needs for known good substrates and known good die were pointed out as areas for future work. The panel agreed that while progress has occurred, further collaboration and cost effective technology development is essential.

Industry attention to 3D-IC and other manufacturing challenges important to regional competitiveness will continue to be a central focus at the 2013 edition of SEMICON Singapore.

The next SEMICON Singapore will be held in April 2013.


May 1, 2012