Feeds

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

Cranky, costly through-silicon vias replaced by inductive coils

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.