IFTLE 115: No nickels; SCP quals low-volume TSV manufacturing; 3D IC slowdown; Apple/TSMC timetable

By Garrou
Don't believe everything you read!

Well, no sooner did we upload the blog last week [see IFTLE 114, "28nm capacity, nickels, and a symbiotic relationship"] than a local reader brought to my attention that the "Samsung pays off Apple in nickels" story was shown to be a hoax [link]. Even though my link was to Google-Nexus, not some crazy blogger with no credibility, I should have known better. I guess part of me simply wanted it to be true .... what a great move it would have been! Kind of like Clint Eastwood telling off the President of the United States. I asked the question, how and where do you get 20B in nickels? [Much less the logistical trouble of transporting 20B nickels weighing in excess of 100,000 tons.] So I should have followed my gut, or at least ran this by my BS meter! I guess I'm not any smarter than those who have spent the last 4 years "hoping for change" (pun intended) but never got it.

So I guess the only lesson we learned here is: Don't believe everything you read.

STATS ChipPAC quals 300mm low-volume TSV manufacturing capability

STATS ChipPAC (SCP) has announced that its "TSV capabilities have achieved a new milestone with the qualification of its 300mm mid-end manufacturing operation and transition to low-volume manufacturing." [link] Reportedly SCP is engaged with multiple strategic customers on TSV development programs for the mobile, wireless connectivity, and networking market segments. Qualification activities include devices at the 28nm silicon node, application processors (AP), and graphic processors utilizing TSV for the high-performance wide-input/output (Wide I/O) memory interface required by higher-bandwidth applications for the mobile market.

The Company's BEOL services include chip-to-chip and chip-to-wafer assembly with stealth dicing and fine pitch micro-bump bonding down to 40μm. Dr. BJ Han, executive vice president and chief technology officer, indicates that their "primary focus has been to develop high-volume TSV technology capabilities that we can offer to customers at cost points that make TSV a viable solution. We now have mid-end manufacturing capacity in place in Singapore and are actively engaged with multiple strategic customers on the production qualification of 2.5D and 3D packaging designs."

"3D IC commercialization to take place in 2015-16"

Someone I still do have faith in is ASE's Ho Ming Tong, general manager and chief of R&D at ASE. According to Digitimes (Sept 6th 2012) he is being quoted as saying: "The adoption and commercialization of 3D TSV stacking IC technology and products will likely take place in the 2015-16 timeframe," whereas "2.5D TSV chips could be widely found in end products in 2014-15." [link]

Tong points to the fact that "electronic design automation (EDA) tools are not yet mature enough for the industry's transition to 3D ICs from 2D ICs." When they finally do happen, Tong sees a broad array of applications including consumer electronics, mobile communications, PC, and automotive. The emergence of cloud computing is also expected to help accelerate the adoption of 2.5D and 3D TSV chips, he believes.

More on TSMC and Apple

In another story update, a few weeks ago we reported that TSMC felt confident about securing Apple's foundry business for the A6 and A7 processors based on their 28nm and 22nm processes [see IFTLE 112, "TSMC staffing up for 2.5/3D expansion."] Well, the Taiwan Economic News now reports that "pilot production of Apple processors is expected to start in the first half of 2013 with volume production following in the second half." [link]

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