Insights From Leading Edge

IFTLE 345 Toshiba 1Tb Flash with TSV; TSMC CoWoS expansion & 2nd Gen InFO; Samsung Foundry takes aim at TSMC

By Dr. Phil Garrou, Contributing Editor

Time to catch up on some very important industry activities…

Toshiba – 3D flash memory with TSV

Toshiba has announced development of its BiCS flash three-dimensional (3D) flash memory utilizing through-silicon via (TSV) technology [link]. Shipments of prototypes will begin in June 2017, and product samples will be shipped in the second half of 2017. Prototypes were shown at the 2015 Flash Memory Summit.[link 2]

Toshiba reports that by combining a 48-layer 3D flash process and TSV technology has allowed Toshiba to successfully increase product programming bandwidth while achieving low power consumption. The power efficiency of a single package is approximately twice that of the same-generation BiCS flash memory fabricated with wire-bonding technology. TSV BiCS flash also enables a 1-terabyte (TB) device with a 16-die stacked architecture in a single package. The 1 Tb 16 chip stack measures 14 x 18 x 1.85mm.

Toshiba expects to commercialize BiCS flash with TSV technology to provide an ideal solution in respect for storage applications requiring low latency, high bandwidth and high IOPS/Watt, including high-end enterprise SSDs.


TSMC – Expanding CoWoS Capacity?

Digitimes reports rumors in Taiwan that TSMC will expand its CoWoS (Chip on Wafer on Substrate) packaging and testing capacity to fill increasing orders from Nvidia and Google. The capacity expansion will reportedly be at the IC packaging and testing plant in Longtan Science Park (purchased from Qualcomm in 2014) where InFO packaging is currently manufactured. TSMC has not confirmed this expansion.

Reportedly, increasing orders from Nvidia and Google for high-end packaging and testing of their AI Chips has fully occupied TSMC’s existing CoWoS process capacity, driving the company to expand.

Nvidia has moved from 16nm to 12nm for fabricating its Volta-architecture GPU chips. Google has contracted TSMC to carry out wafer foundry services for it’s second-generation Tensor Processing Units (TPU2) using 16nm process technology, as well as backend packaging and testing.

TSMC – 2nd Generation InFO packaging for 7nm node

Digitimes also reports that TSMC’s integrated fan-out (InFO) wafer-level packaging technology will enter its 2nd generation, and be used for their 7nm FinFET process technology. Digitimes notes that this makes it unlikely that Samsung will be able to regain AP orders for Apple’s iPhone, since InFO makes TSMC’s 7nm FinFET technology more competitive than Samsung’s. [link]

Samsung – plans to triple foundry market share

Reuters reports that Samsung plans to triple the market share of its contract chip manufacturing business within the next five years. [link] E.S. Jung, executive VP of the foundry division, told Reuters that they want a 25 percent market share (would be #2 in market share) within five years and will seek to attract smaller customers in addition to big-name clients to fuel the growth.

Samsung first announced that they were considering separating their contract chip manufacturing organization (foundry business) last fall [link]

They finally announced the spin off its foundry operation from the System LSI division to create an independent business unit this past May. This will change Samsung’s current organization consisting of memory and system LSI into three entities including the foundry business.[link] The current foundry business is estimated to be ~ a $4.75B operation.

Research firm HIS reports that in 2016 TSMC held a 50.6% market share, GlobalFoundries 9.6%, UMC 8..1% and Samsung Foundry 7.9%

Samsung says it will start manufacturing 7nm chips using EUV litho tech in the second half of 2018.


IFTLE has discussed for years that Samsung, if they ever chose to, could become the number 2 foundry supplier in the world…well, now they choose to. This is probably bad news for GlobalFoundries and UMC. The question now becomes will Intel do the same. Intel, in the past few years, has put their “toe in the water” but has never really committed to a foundry business. Will this move by Samsung force their hand?

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


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