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
Sep 21, 2020
Technology is changing the strategies we use to do things - oh so fast that 2010 seems like a distant past- within many spaces -- including the way we do our current topic of interest - Timing... [[ Click on the title to access the full blog on the Cadence Community site. ]]...
Sep 21, 2020
Semicon, the world’s largest semiconductor conference and exhibition, is September 23-25 in Taiwan. Like most shows of its size and caliber, Semicon boasts a long and illustrious list of exhibitors (500+), and countless forums, symposiums, and workshops. Of course Semic...
Sep 18, 2020
[From the last episode: We put the various pieces of a memory together to show the whole thing.] Before we finally turn our memory discussion into an AI discussion, let'€™s take on one annoying little detail that I'€™ve referred to a few times, but have kept putting off. ...
Sep 16, 2020
In addition to the Great Highland (Scottish) bagpipes, the Uilleann (Irish) bagpipes, and the Northumbrian (English) bagpipes, there are myriad other offerings spanning the globe....

Featured Video

AI SoC Chats: Primitive Math IP for AI

Sponsored by Synopsys

Learn about the market trends and challenges around primitive math functions (floating point and integer math) in AI chipset development, and how DesignWare IP can help.

Click here for more information about DesignWare IP for Amazing AI

Featured Paper

Designing highly efficient, powerful and fast EV charging stations

Sponsored by Texas Instruments

Scaling the necessary power for fast EV charging stations can be challenging. One solution is to use modular power converters stacked in parallel.

Learn More in our technical article

Featured Chalk Talk

Microchip PIC-IoT WG Development Board

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and Microchip

In getting your IoT design to market, you need to consider scalability into manufacturing, ease of use, cloud connectivity, security, and a host of other critical issues. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton sits down with Jule Ann Baker of Microchip to chat about these issues, and how the Microchip PIC-IoT WG development board can help you overcome them.

Click here for more information about Microchip Technology PIC-IoT WG Development Board (AC164164)