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IEEE Spectrum: Design Challenges Loom for 3-D Chips - 0 views

  • Three-dimensional microchip designs are making their way to market to help pack more transistors on a chip as traditional scaling slows down. By stacking logic chips on top of one another other or combining logic chips with memory or RF with logic, chipmakers hope to sidestep Moore's Law, increasing the functionality of smartphones and other gadgets not by shrinking a chip's transistors but the distance between them.

    "There's a big demand for smaller packages in the consumer market, especially for the footprint of a mobile phone, or for improving the memory bandwidth of your GPU," says Pol Marchal, a principal scientist of 3-D integration at European microelectronics R&D center Imec.

    On 9 February, at the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), in San Francisco, Imec engineers presented some key design challenges facing 3-D chips made by stacking layers of silicon circuits using vertical copper interconnects called through-silicon vias (TSVs). These design constraints will have to be dealt with before TSVs can be widely used in advanced microchip architectures, Marchal says.

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