editor's blog
Subscribe Now

TSMC Going for the Whole Package

It looks like the chip packaging industry may be getting a new competitor.

I spent a few minutes with TSMC’s Sr. VP for R&D Shang-yi Chiang last week at the TSMC Symposium to follow up on one of the topics he had raised in his presentation, that of low-K dielectrics and some of the impact they were having.

For those of us not as deeply steeped in this stuff, it’s easy to get confused by low-K and high-K, since they are both trumpeted as important new developments. High-K is for the gate, where you want good coupling; low-K is for the dielectric between interconnect layers, where you want to minimize coupling, which is increasingly harder due to the incredibly thin dimensions we’re seeing.

It turns out that air is pretty much the gold standard for low K. And your standard chip dielectrics are decidedly not air. So TSMC approximates air by creating a matrix of tiny bubbles – essentially turning the dielectric into a high-tech Styrofoam. 

They do this by mixing in an organic ingredient; a higher-temp bake burns off the material, leaving voids. They also add some carbon to the overall mix to improve the structural integrity of what remains.

Problem is, this makes the material much more brittle, and it doesn’t stick as well to the layer below it. This is exacerbated by the material having a different thermal coefficient than the molding compound used for packaging; all of this hurts reliability.

So TSMC believes that they need to get more involved with the packaging themselves, in particular through the use of multi-chip constructs like 3D ICs or with silicon interposers. 

And they’re not talking about partnering with a packaging house. They want to do it themselves.

The existing packaging business has margins too low to be of interest to them. So they want to develop their own technology (not acquire it) to improve the margins. 

R&D is just starting.

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Jul 3, 2020
[From the last episode: We looked at CNNs for vision as well as other neural networks for other applications.] We'€™re going to take a quick detour into math today. For those of you that have done advanced math, this may be a review, or it might even seem to be talking down...
Jul 2, 2020
Using the bitwise operators in general, and employing them to perform masking operations in particular, can be extremely efficacious....
Jul 2, 2020
In June, we continued to upgrade several key pieces of content across the website, including more interactive product explorers on several pages and a homepage refresh. We also made a significant update to our product pages which allows logged-in users to see customer-specifi...

featured video

Product Update: What’s Hot in DesignWare® IP for PCIe® 5.0

Sponsored by Synopsys

Get the latest update on Synopsys' DesignWare Controller and PHY IP for PCIe 5.0 and how the low-latency, compact, power-efficient, and silicon-proven solution can enable your SoCs while reducing risk.

Click here for more information about DesignWare IP Solutions for PCI Express

Featured Paper

Cryptography: A Closer Look at the Algorithms

Sponsored by Maxim Integrated

Get more details about how cryptographic algorithms are implemented and how an asymmetric key algorithm can be used to exchange a shared private key.

Click here to download the whitepaper

Featured Chalk Talk

Create Multi-Band Sensor Networks with the LaunchPad SensorTag Kit

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and Texas Instruments

Doing IoT development today can involve a number of different communications standards. There is no “one size fits all” for wireless protocols. Every application has its own needs and constraints. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with Adrian Fernandez of Texas Instruments about the new LaunchPad SensorTag development kit - that can launch your IoT design regardless of what wireless standards you need.

Click here for more information about Texas Instruments LPSTK-CC1352R MCU LaunchPad Sensor Tag Kit