[International] TSMC may beat Intel to 3-D chips


Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) could deliver its first semiconductors with 3-D interconnects by the end of 2011, potentially beating Intel Corp. to the punch in offering the first 3-D chips, according to a report circulated Tuesday (July 5) by a Taiwan trade group.


 The report by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) quoted an anonymous source saying that TSMC's projected delivery of 3-D chips matches that of Intel, the world's biggest chip maker. Intel announced with great fanfare in May that it would begin high-volume production of 3-D chips using tri-gate transistors by the end of the year.


 While the TAITRA report pits TSMC against Intel in a race to produce the first 3-D chips, the technologies at issue are actually quite different. TSMC and others have for some time been developing technology for chips with 3-D interconnect, called through silicon vias (TSVs)--vertical connections that pass through die to connect different layers of a chip within the same package. Intel's tri-gates are actually 3-D transistors, known outside Intel as a FinFets because the silicon channel is akin to a fin jutting up from the semiconductor substrate.


 According to the TAITRA report, 3-D technology boosts the density of transistors in a single chip by up to 1,000 times. The 3-D devices are also expected to consume about 50 percent less energy. The new technology is expected to override a number of difficulties posed by traditional "planar" transistors, which can only move electrons across two dimensions, according to the report.


 Shang-Yi Chiang, senior vice president for R&D at TSMC, was quoted in the TAITRA report saying TSMC has been working closely with chip packagers and providers of design auto software to commercialize 3-D chip technology.


Source: EETimes