Insights From Leading Edge

Monthly Archives: January 2015

IFTLE 226 RTI ASIP Part 2: 3D Memory, Heterogeneous Integration, High Density Laminates, Embedded films

By Dr. Phil Garrou, Contributing Editor

Let’s continue our end of year look at presentations at the RTI ASIP Conference.

Yole Developpement

During my 2014 market Update presentation 2.5 / 3DIC for Yole Developpment, we looked at the timeline for introduction of the various new memory architectures as shown below:

Yole 1


Another popular slide discussed cost vs density for current available and proposed interposer solutions. While silicon clearly achieves the highest density it is at the highest cost. Laminate originates from a position of low cost, but to achieve higher density (both L/S and via dia/pad size) will processing and equipment costs be able to maintain low costs? Is large area processing or panel processing a credible concept for high density packaging? Glass while intriguing has no standardization of ground rules and no announced fabrication facilities that can supply large volume orders.

While it is clear that 1-10um L/S is a density sweet spot, it is not clear what technology will end up delivering a reliable technology at the lowest cost.

Yole 2


Fraunhoffer IIS / Siemens

Schneider of Fraunhoffer ISS and Siemens reported on heterogeneous integration for Sensor Systems.

One key point is that there currently is no accepted definition for heterogenous integration and it includes:

– different devise with different functions

– dies manufactured from different substrate materials

– dies manufactured with different technologies.

For example:

Fraunhoffer IIS 1



 We last discussed Unimicron’s thoughts on producing high density laminate with 2/2 (L/S) in IFTLE 223. At the RTI 3DASIP DC Hu detailed further thoughts on technologies to achieve silicon like densities on laminate substrates.

Target Line Width

  • Copper trace, 2013:10/10um, 2014; 8/8, 2015: 5/5, 2016: 3/3or 2/2
  • Target via size, 2013: 60um, 2014: 50um, 2015: 40um, , 2016: 30um

8/8 Lines and maybe even 5/5 can be achieved by todays lamination technology

But below 5/5um, new methods are under consideration

–  Semi additive

–  line first by embedding

– line last by embedding

–  Copper Damascening

Photo Process

– Exposure tool, Stepper, LDI, but need large panel processing

– Liquid photo resist may be required.

–  Slit coating, Spin coating of PR


– Large Area CMP may be needed.

Fine Lines on Large Panel Glass Substrate

– 3/3um L/S with thickness of 5um Cu patterns can be realized on 508x508mm glass panel.

unimicron 1


Line Embedded Line Last Technology

unimicron 2

Line Embedded Line First Technology

unimicron 3

New Structure – embedded high density film

– High Density Film with three metal layers can be as thin as 40 um.

–  Super thin package.

–  Low Cost

unimicron 4

For all the latest on 3DIC and advanced packaging, stay linked to IFTLE…

IFTLE 225 IEEE 3DIC – Cork: The Thermal Impact of TSVs – reexamined; Parylene: an IFTLE alternative opinion

By Dr. Phil Garrou, Contributing Editor

Let’s take a look at some of the key presentations at the 2014 IEEE 3DIC Conference recently in Cork, Ireland.

Global Integration Institute (GINTI) –    µ-XRD for Thermo-mechanical Stress Measurement

Copper-Through-Silicon-Via (Cu-TSV) is increasingly used for two reasons: (i) the very low resistivity of Cu as compared to that of the other TSV-fill materials that significantly reduces the (RC) delay, and (ii) the ease of Cu-electroplating to fill the TSV without any voids which enhances the production throughput.

Cu-TSV also suffers from some of the critical reliability issues such as diffusion of Cu in to active Si from back-metal contamination and the thermo-mechanical stress caused by Cu-TSV pumping.

Parasitic capacitance is approximately proportional to the size and length of the TSV. Therefore, in order to reduce the parasitic capacitance due to Cu-TSVs, one has to reduce the TSV size and length. To improve the yield of Cu-TSVs the aspect-ratio of the TSV has to be kept as small as possible. This forces one to reduce the thickness of Si thickness that leads to decrease in the mechanical strength of the 3D-LSI. The thermo-mechanical stress in 3D-LSI is widely measured using Raman spectroscopy.

In the future 3D-LSI will have TSV dia from few um down to sub um, one will no longer be able to use Raman to be used as a stress metrology tool. Micro X-ray diffraction (u-XRD) uses one order smaller diameter probe, as small as 200nm.

Ginti has studied stress values deduced from u-XRD data from LSI samples containing Cu-TSVs, whose diameter varies from 2 to 20um. It was observed that the TSV diameter has huge impact on the magnitude of resultant thermo-mechanical stress. The 20um-width Cu-TSV has induced more than -1500 MPa of stress in the vicinal Si, while the 2um-width Cu-TSV induced less than -10 MPa of compressive stress in the surrounding Si. Therefore by decreasing the TSV diameter, one can virtually eliminate the thermo-mechanical stress induced by TSV.

CEA Leti / ST Micro  – Thermal Performance of 3DICs 

Leti and ST Micro presented two papers on the thermal performance of 3DICs.

3DICs are assumed to suffer from stronger thermal issues when compared to equivalent implementations in traditional single-die integration technologies. Based on this assumption, heat dissipation is frequently pointed as one of the remaining challenges in the promising 3D integration technology.

There are four main aspects differentiating heat dissipation in 3D ICs: chip footprint, die thickness, inter-die interface and TSVs.

Heat dissipation in small hotspots is primarily diffused through the high thermal conductive silicon substrate and spreads in a semi-spherical direction, rapidly decreasing the heat density and lowering the peak temperature. In case of thinned silicon dies in a 3D stack, the inter-die interface layer acts as a thermal barrier due to its poor thermal properties, forcing the heat to spread laterally in the silicon substrate and thus resulting in a temperature distribution which approximates a cylindrical shape.

Thinned silicon dies present reduced lateral heat spreading capacity while poorly conductive adhesive materials used to bond dies together contribute to increase the vertical thermal resistance.

An increase in power density may come from higher power dissipation and/or from a reduction of the chip footprint. It means either more power needs to be removed from the same package or that the same power dissipation has to go through a reduced chip footprint. While chip footprint reduction is one of the advantages of 3D integration, it usually leads to higher temperatures for the same amount of energy dissipation when compared to single-die implementations.

Leti shows that inserting TSVs as thermal vias is of limited value. They contend that it is more important to reduce the thermal resistance between the stacked silicon dies which is due to  poor thermally conductive layers such as  BEOL metallization and underfill.

Thinned dies can present a severe thermal impediment especially to chips with hot spots. Thinned dies present high lateral thermal resistances thus forcing the heat to go through the underfill layer to the next die, which acts as a heat spreader reducing the hotspot temperature. Consequently, the thinner the die the more important is the thermal coupling between dies in case of hotspot heat dissipation.

The use of “thermal TSVs” for thermal mitigation has been routinely reported in the literature. Several thermal-aware physical optimization techniques can be found in the literature which rely on simplistic thermal models where the TSV is treated as a vertical lumped thermal resistor with thermal conductivity calculated according to its diameter and length. Such thermal models ignore the lateral heat transfer and the impact of the thin Si02 layer, which surrounds each TSV and thermally isolates TSVs from silicon substrate. The poor thermal conductivity properties of the SiO2, dominate the thermal impact of the TSVs in case of hotspot dissipation. Thus while having TSVs in the silicon substrate increases the equivalent vertical thermal conductivity at the same time it causes a lateral thermal blockage effect, especially for fine TSV pitches.

The thermal test chip is composed of two stacked dies connected through TSVs in the bottom die and μ-pillars (μ- bumps) in a face-to-back stacking configuration. Large FC Cu-pillars (bumps) are used to connect the bottom die to a BGA substrate. Gaps between layers are filled with underfill material for mechanical strength purposes.

leti 1


The SiO2 layer around each TSV leads to an increase of the hotspot temperature compared to the case without TSVs (+1.9 °C). Contrary to the common expectations, TSVs have a negative thermal impact on the hotspot temperature.


Increasing the TSV density increases the vertical thermal conductivity as well as the lateral thermal blockage effect. Splitting large TSVs into smaller ones, as suggested in [4] for instance, increases the ratio of the SiO2 layer thickness to the TSV diameter and hence increases also the lateral thermal blockage effect. Considering TSV technologies with very fine pitch, where this ratio is typically 1:10, also lead to TSV arrays with higher lateral thermal blockage effect.


An explorative study including multiple TSV array configurations and power dissipation profiles shows that, contrary to the common belief, TSVs are not effective for thermal mitigation in current TSV technologies and may even provoke exacerbated hotspots. Although TSVs help to convey heat vertically, the lateral thermal blockage effect prevails over any thermal benefit arising from TSVs in the case of hotspots. In the reported investigation, TSVs placed around a small hotspot may result in peak temperatures worsened by up to 15%.


Parylene HT for 3DIC – An Alternative Opinion


Researchers at AIST reported at Cork on Parylene HT’s use as an insulator layer for copper TSV. While it certainly is true that “the capacitance of parylene liner is much lower than that of SiO2 liner. This provides benefit in minimizing the signal delay, lowering power consumption, and reducing cross-talk between neighboring paths.” No consideration was given to the mechanical properties of Parylene HT.

HTParylene HT aka Parylene AF4, aka Parylene F has been reported in the literature for more than 35 years.  It was available commercially in the late 1990’s as Novellus AF4 when it  was thoroughly screened as a potential ILD Low=K replacement material. It was never implemented as a Low-K ILD for many reasons amongst which was the reactivity of the F with the Ta barrier layers in dual damascene structures.

Parylene (though not the HT product) has been examined as an insulator for 3D TSV  by the RTI group working on the DARPA VISA program since 2006 and by IMEC since 2008. The use of Parylene as a TSV insulation dielectric has been detailed in Chapter 7 of Volume 1 of the “Handbook of 3D Integration.”

[Garrou, Bower And Ramm Eds, Wiley VCH 2008]

While the Parylene family of products has found a nice niche as a protective coating for PC boards and medical components, it is NOT known for its superior mechanical properties.  While Parylene HT reportedly has superior thermal properties (vs other Parylenes) it’s mechanical properties remain poor as shown below.

HT properties

So the tensile strength of Parylene HT, is ~ 50 MPa and the elongation is 2%. The yield strength, i.e. the stress at which it begins to deform plastically is 35 MPa. These are not properties that I would want encapsulating a copper TSV which is known to undergo “copper pumping” and is known to exert so much stress that it cracks SiO2 liners as it expands.

Suffice it to say that I would examine mechanical reliability tests very carefully before implementing such materials into a 3DIC process flow.

For all the latest in 3DIC and advanced packaging, stay linked to IFTLE…

IFTLE 224 Ga Tech Interposer Conf 2: Laser TGV; NTK and Unimicron – Glass PCB reinforcement for high density laminates; Nvidia Pascal

By Dr. Phil Garrou, Contributing Editor

Continuing our look at the GaTech Global Interposer Technology Workshop.


Krause of LPKF detailed their laser formation of through glass vias (TGV). They claim to be capable of forming 5000 TGV/sec. Their two step process is shown below.




They  are reporting that their prototype tool will be available in 2Q 2015 and available on the market in 4Q2015.


Seki of NTK described their work on glass core substrates which can be used as both interposer substrates and cores for high density laminate substrates.



The fabrication process is shown below:



Because of the high modulus, glass core has less warpage than laminate with or without dies.



With CO2 laser drilling cracks were observed in the polymer laminated glass, reportedly due to the CTE mismatch between the polymer and glass and the stresses induced by the laser drilling. The thicker the polymer coating the higher the induced stress.



2um L/S and 10um TGV appear possible for this system.


DC Hu of Unimicron reviewed their perspective on the “Glass as a Substrate Material for High Density  Interconnects”.

Their process flow for using glass sheet to replace woven glass core for PCB laminate is shown below. It has been run on a 508mm x 508mm panel size.

Unimicron 1


Techniques for L/S reduction are shown below:

unimicron 2


The embedded interposer carrier is an option to eliminate the solder joints between the interposer and organic substrate.

unimicron 3



Abe Yee of Nvidia described their program with TSMC and Hynix for their future gen graphics modules.

Nvidias GPU roadmap shows the 2016 entry of Pascal with 3D memory:

Nvidia 1


Yee comments that “Memory to GPU requires 2.5D with TSV”.

For all the latest on 3DIC and advanced packaging, stay linked to IFTLE…

IFLE 222 2014F IC Sales; SMIC joins group Acquiring StatsChipPAC; China to become a Consolidation “Predator”?

By Dr. Phil Garrou, Contributing Editor

IC Insights – 2014 Final Sales Leaders

According to IC Insights, this year’s top-20 ranking includes two pure-play foundries (TSMC and UMC) and six fabless companies.  The top four semiconductor suppliers all have different business models.  Intel is essentially a pure-play IDM, Samsung a vertically integrated IC supplier, TSMC a pure-play foundry, and Qualcomm a fabless company.

fig 1


IC Insights – S. Korean and Taiwanese Companies Control 56% of Global 300mm Fab Capacity

IC companies headquartered in South Korea and Taiwan lead the way in DRAM and flash memory and foundry services.

Samsung and SK Hynix currently account for 35% of global 300mm wafer capacity.  Samsung alone controls about 24% of all the world’s 300mm capacity.   Samsung and SK Hynix also both own big 300mm fabs outside of South Korea.  SK Hynix’s largest fab is in China.  Samsung also has a 300mm fab in China as well as two in the U.S.

Taiwanese companies currently manage 21% of the world’s 300mm capacity, with about 85% of that capacity being committed to foundry services.  The remaining 15% of Taiwan-controlled 300mm capacity is mostly used to produce memory devices.   There is only one Taiwanese-controlled 300mm fab located outside of Taiwan, UMC’s fab in Singapore.

fig 2


SMIC joins group buying STATSChipPAC

Our friends at Digitimes have reported that SMIC has joined the China group of China-based investors looking to buy STATS ChipPAC which includes Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics Technology (JCET).  JCET is China’s largest semiconductor chip tester with five production plants located in the provinces of Jiangsu and Anhui.

In Nov 2014, JCET made a $780 MM offer to acquire STATS ChipPAC. Negotiations are currently scheduled to complete at the end of the year.

Under the proposal, SilTech Shanghai (parent of SMIC) will put $100 MM into the deal. The IC Fund set up by the Chinese government is another co-investor. Incorporated in September 2014, the IC Fund is China’s national investment fund aiming to boost development of the local IC industry.

China to become predator for IC business consolidation during 2016-2020 ?

Digitimes also reports that they expect Chinas next 5 year plan (2016-2020) to reveal “…there is no doubt that China is likely to become one of the major predators for IC businesses during the period”. Further predicting that “…Taiwan-based IC design houses and IC backend service providers are likely to become the preys to be hunted by China-based IC companies.”