IFTLE 79: Deca Technologies: Is there data to back the hype? Intel picks Franzon group to design 3D IC microprocessors

By Garrou

When I first started writing PFTLE and now IFTLE, I never thought I would be using Bill Maher to make a point in these technology-based blogs, since he and I are as diametrically opposed as two people can get when it comes to most political positions. But, as they say, "never say never." For those of you not familiar with him, Maher is what is known in the US as a TV celebrity, which means that he has done absolutely nothing other than express his opinions. Anyway, one segment of his show that I sometimes do agree with is called "New Rules" where he shows you something being done in everyday life that makes no sense and then proposes a new rule to fix the situation.

One of my long-time peeves is the announcement of some new "breakthrough technological advance" that does not tell me what they intend on doing or how they are intending to do it. So I am proposing an IFTLE "NEW RULE": If you're not going to tell me how you are going to do it (for whatever reason), please contain the hype.

Recent headlines concerning a startup beginning operation included: "Disruptive Approach & IP Will Revolutionize Electronic Interconnect;" "Charting a new course for the future of electronic systems, Deca has launched a breakthrough approach to creating advanced electronic interconnect solutions;" and "We can take products from design to manufacturing in minutes rather than days." While others were content to copy these headlines and pass them on to you without question, IFTLE expects significant technical backup data to justify such statements -- and thus we give our "Where's the Beef" "award" [see IFTLE 3: Finding the beef and addressing 3DIC"] to the WLP startup Deca Technologies.

Going to their Web page for further information provides little help. The tab "Find out about Deca technologies" leads to this statement: "Deca's vision of how technology and processes can be improved addresses many of the key challenges associated with advanced packaging technology, driven by a single goal of providing breakthrough products and services. Deca delivers tangible benefits through excellence in innovation, responsiveness, and production performance, resulting in: - Rapid new product introduction, - Industry leading cycle time, - Optimized ROI." Hummmmm...where's the beef?

The site's "How are we changing the game" tab leads to this: "The Deca ethos strives for exponential improvements across the board through a philosophy called '10x thinking. Through Deca, traditional wafer fab batch-based processes are giving way to a novel high speed approach. Put simply, our '10x thinking' ethos delivers flexible technology that saves money, reduces cycle time, and expedites the introduction of new products to market." Double-hummmm...

So what do we know for sure?

1. Deca is entering the WLP market. That would have been news in the mid 1990's, but this is now a maturing, although admittedly still-growing industry segment.

2. Deca believes that by using "non traditional equipment" they can lower the pricing on these products. Of course, with no further explaination of what that "nontraditional equipment" is or its unique use.

3. Deca is convinced that their turnaround time will be significantly less that that currently offered. I read that as ASE, Amkor and the other OSATs. IFTLE contends that one should not brag about this until they have developed a track record for doing it.

4. IFTLE likes factual, low-hype announcements with deep technical backup. But as Dennis Miller (another US TV celebrity) says "That's just my opinion; I could be wrong."

IFTLE wishes Deca nothing but good fortune and looks forward to reporting on what their technology is and how it is progressing in the future, when that information is eventually made public. Until then: A little less hype and a little more information, please.

$1.5M Intel grant to NC State to design low-power processors

A $1.5 million grant from the Intel Corp. will be used by Paul Franzon, lead researcher and Professor of EE and Computer Engineering at NC State University, to develop a 3D CPU with 15% to 25% better energy utilization. In addition to Franzon, the research team includes Eric Rotenberg and Rhett Davis of NC State, and Krishnendu Chakrabarty PhD. of Duke University.

One problem the participants plan to address is "how to reconcile chips that are designed and manufactured in different places to different specifications so that they can work together in three dimensions. [...] We will also address questions concerning heat dissipation." Franzon added that the goal is "at least a 15% improvement in performance per unit of power, through architectural and circuit advances."

They plan to have a prototype developed by 2014, and will also be addressing "test and yield" challenges -- such as how manufacturers can test individual CPU components to ensure they are functional.

PFTLE/IFTLE Contest still underway

The contest involving naming key players in 3DIC and advanced packaging that have been discussed in the last several years by PFTLE/IFTLE is still ongoing and will be open to your guesses till December 31st.

See IFTLE 78 for rules and regulations and remember to send your guesses to pgarrou/[email protected] if you want to win the MRS 3DIC book prize. Good luck to all of you!

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