Feeds

Intel, Sun vet births fast, inexpensive 3D chip-stacking breakthrough

Cranky, costly through-silicon vias replaced by inductive coils

Top three mobile application threats

A startup headed up by former Intel chip architect, Sun Sparc CTO, and Transmeta cofounder David Ditzel has developed a way to allow communication in 3D stacked chips without the expense and fabrication hassles of creating physical connections between the layers.

ThruChip Communications' ThruChip Interface (TCI) uses inductive coils that communicate layer-to-layer rather than the physical metal wires used by through-silicon via (TSV) tech to link a 3D chip's silicon layers.

TSVs are used, for example, in Micron's Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) and Samsung's vertically stacked NAND (V-NAND) chips, and are under intensive study by a number of chip designers and fabricators.

While fast and effective, TSVs have a number of challenges – not the least of which being the difficulties of ultra-precise mechanical alignment in multiple-layer implementations, the need for process tweaks in their manufacture, and added expense.

TCI, on the other hand, fabs its on-die inductive metal coils in a straightforward digital CMOS process, and since it's a purely electrical process, there are no overarching mechanical issues – although alignment remains critical.

ThruChip Communications' ThruChip Interface (TCI)

Inductive coils are like a teasing big brother: 'I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you!'

There's no need, however, for precisely drilled holes, no additional steps to add the TSV wires, and – according to ThruChip Communications, at least – it's all accomplished at "significant cost savings compared to TSV."

In addition, ThruChip Communications claims that TCI is fast, reliable, makes 3D chips consume less power and be simpler to test than TVS-based 3D chips, and that it's a simple matter to stack layers of dies created using different processes.

Comparison between ThruChip Communications' ThruChip Interface (TCI) and through-silicon via (TSV)

Standard CMOS process, no involvement of outsourced assembly and test (OSAT) houses – what not to like?

The technology is still in the proof-of-concept stage, but Ditzel, CTO Tadahiro Kuroda, and their team have created over two dozen prototype chips and systems based on TCI, including one 3D part that stacked 128 NAND layers using TCI interconnects.

They envision a number of different use cases for TCI: stacked NAND or DRAM, stacked FPGAs, memory parked on top of SoCs or other dies, and the like.

Should you be interested in incorporating TCI into a device you're working on, the team would be more than happy to talk with you. As they say on their website, "Yes, you do need a license to use ThruChip technology for 3D chip stacking applications, but don't worry, it's simple." ®

The Reg thanks EE Times' Rick Merritt for bringing ThruChip Communications to our attention in his Friday article on the startup and its technology.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.