editor's blog
Subscribe Now

A New 3D

3D has been tossed about quite a bit over the last few years. We can ignore the 3D TV craze that came and went like an evanescent avatar. But the two IC manifestations have been 3D transistors (i.e., FinFETs) and 3D package integration – stacking chips.

The latter is a more-than-Moore technology that allows multiple chips, each built on processes best suited to it, with the ability to leverage high-volume off-the-shelf dice like memories instead of designing them from scratch.

But what if you want to scale like circuits vertically? That’s to say, things that aren’t available off the shelf and that all require the same process? Either you have to build them laterally on a single chip or build multiple chips and stack them.

Well, Leti is working on another option: monolithic 3D integration. What this amounts to is building a standard chip and then growing a new layer of silicon (or something) above it and building more circuits. Sounds pretty straightforward in concept, but it’s easier to visualize than it is to accomplish. They presented their status at the recent Semicon West gathering.

M3D_red.png

Image courtesy Leti

The biggest concern that always arises with these sorts of ideas is thermal. For the bottom layer, you build your transistors, implant your dopants, and then “activate” them using heat to get them moving to where they’re supposed to be. After that, you want them to stay there. They’ll keep moving if you keep the heat on, so once they’re set, you don’t want any more heat.

There are also apparently worries about the contact salicide stability in the presence of extra heat.

And where might the extra heat come from?

Well when you build the next layers of transistor, you need to dope them and activate again. If your bottom transistors are already where you want them, the extra activation will screw them up. Do you try to under-activate the bottom ones, hoping that the second activation will bring them in line?

That’s not the approach Leti is taking. They’re experimenting with a “crème brulee” technique: use a broiler for the second layer activation. That is, heat from the top so that only the top layer gets activated in a short enough time that the heat doesn’t diffuse down and mess up the lower transistors.

Compatibility with existing processes is another consideration. You have to be able to connect the upper and lower transistors, and, in theory, there is no such interconnect at present. Rather than define new interconnect, they’re leveraging the local interconnect (LI) for that piece.

Finally, a big question: how to build and arrange the transistors and CMOS pairs – and other elements like NEMS devices that might want to ride along on the same chip? They’re playing with three different configurations.

The first is “CMOS over CMOS.” In other words, you build both N and P types on the same layer (top and bottom). They list FinFET over FinFET, Trigate/nanowire over Trigate/nanowire (all SOI), or FDSOI over FDSOI. But they also have a drawing showing an FDSOI transistor over a FinFET. Their allegation is that two layers of 14-nm technology provide the scaling of a single layer of 10-nm technology.

The second option is to optimize the transistors by having N and P types on different layers. So, whereas the first option has CMOS pairs built laterally, they’re built vertically in this second option. This allows them to use different materials on the two layers. They’ve already tried germanium (Ge) for P over silicon for N. And they’ve leveraged different crystal orientations, with silicon [110] for P over silicon [100] for N. Next up they’ll try InGaAs for N over Ge for P.

The third option involves integrating NEMS over CMOS. We looked at their M&NEMS program last year (which work continues).

They did some FPGA work already just to see what kinds of improvements they can get . They used two stacked FDSOI layers and two levels of tungsten LI. They improved area by 55% (not surprising), but they also improved performance by 23% and power by 12%. Win win win. Apparently going local matters.

We’ll update as we see new results.

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Oct 25, 2020
https://youtu.be/_xItRYHmGPw Made on my balcony (camera Carey Guo) Monday: The Start of the Arm Era Tuesday: The Gen Arm 2Z Ambassadors Wednesday: CadenceLIVE India: Best Paper Awards Thursday:... [[ Click on the title to access the full blog on the Cadence Community site. ]...
Oct 23, 2020
Processing a component onto a PCB used to be fairly straightforward. Through-hole products, or a single or double row surface mount with a larger centerline rarely offer unique challenges obtaining a proper solder joint. However, as electronics continue to get smaller and con...
Oct 23, 2020
[From the last episode: We noted that some inventions, like in-memory compute, aren'€™t intuitive, being driven instead by the math.] We have one more addition to add to our in-memory compute system. Remember that, when we use a regular memory, what goes in is an address '...
Oct 23, 2020
Any suggestions for a 4x4 keypad in which the keys aren'€™t wobbly and you don'€™t have to strike a key dead center for it to make contact?...

featured video

Demo: Inuitive NU4000 SoC with ARC EV Processor Running SLAM and CNN

Sponsored by Synopsys

See Inuitive’s NU4000 3D imaging and vision processor in action. The SoC supports high-quality 3D depth processor engine, SLAM accelerators, computer vision, and deep learning by integrating Synopsys ARC EV processor. In this demo, the NU4000 demonstrates simultaneous 3D sensing, SLAM and CNN functionality by mapping out its environment and localizing the sensor while identifying the objects within it. For more information, visit inuitive-tech.com.

Click here for more information about DesignWare ARC EV Processors for Embedded Vision

featured paper

An engineer’s guide to autonomous and collaborative industrial robots

Sponsored by Texas Instruments

As robots are becoming more commonplace in factories, it is important that they become more intelligent, autonomous, safer and efficient. All of this is enabled with precise motor control, advanced sensing technologies and processing at the edge, all with robust real-time communication. In our e-book, an engineer’s guide to industrial robots, we take an in-depth look at the key technologies used in various robotic applications.

Click here to download the e-book

Featured Chalk Talk

Effortless USB-C Battery Charging with MAX77860

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and Maxim Integrated

Designing USB Type C into your design requires a bit more attention than previous generations. With all the benefits USB Type C brings - reversible plugs, more power, and higher bandwidth, it also demands more engineering inside our devices. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with Sagar Khare of Maxim Integrated about the requirements of USB Type C, and how the MAX77860 can help you meet them.

Click here for more information about Maxim Integrated MAX77860 Switch-Mode Buck Charger