We have a guest contribution today from Brian Cronquist, MonolithIC 3D Inc.'s VP of Technology & IP. Brian discusses why he believes Monolithic 3D-IC could be less risky than scaling or TSV.
I recently saw this great 5 minute video by Applied Material’s Richard Lewington [AMAT 3D Blog Video]
where three types of 3D-IC construction are demonstrated. Note that the first two 3D-IC options he shows (with those plastic blocks) are monolithic. Only the third option is TSV based.
What’s going on here? Why is this major equipment vendor talking about monolithic 3D when it seems
that most of what the industry is talking about these days are scaling, interposers, and Thru-Silicon-Vias(TSVs)? Let’s take a look.
Being a fab-guy (built parts of and worked in Chartered Fab-1 & Fab-2, Sierra Semi’s fab inside National Semi’s Bldg#4, AMI Poci Fab-4, Synertek Fab-3, etc.) I am going to approach this from a process/fab-rat perspective. Because this is a key point to what monolithic 3D is about: it is supposed to bring 3D-IC back into the wafer batch economics of semiconductor processing. No piece part handling expense, TSV/interposer reliability & cost issues, or OSAT troubles (I applaud TSMC for trying to remedy this OSAT part, but am surprised that Global Foundries did not do it first….they could have beaten TSMC to the punch here).
The major rule for wafer fabs is Take no Risks
….. Everything you do is focused on control: understanding, eliminating, controlling variables. Protect and preserve that huge capital investment so you can pay it down. By definition & nature, fab managers are very conservative. But scaling forced us to do dramatically different and risky things. That’s a major reason why it takes 10+ years for new process/technologies to get into a large production fab. Think about HKMG, Cu BEOL, CMP, strain, plasma metal etching rather than wet (caused lots of corrosion issues/mousebites), to name a few. Even platen cooling (instead of aluminum mask layers) for high current implantation took a long time. Changing from flats on the starting material wafers to the notch took about 10yrs too. At its root
, many of these changes took new machines, new chemistries, and/or new process methods (think APCVD, LPCVD, UHVCVD, PECVD, SACVD, ALCVD, MOCVD, RTCVD, …..) Another large risk factor with scaling has been the use of more elements of the periodic table to solve scaling challenges. We did not just alter the form or compound of a known element (bad enough risk-wise); we changed to and added new elements to our expensive wafer fabs. (In fab parlance, all this “newness” added up to what is called the Sphincter Effect
When I started in the industry we used only six elements from the periodic table:
Here is the current periodic table usage:
Yet, all of us scientists and engineers, as well as fab managers, solved the problems caused by relentless scaling, and the industry grew…we had a lot of fun, we were supremely challenged, and we solved those challenges. But we also grew grey hair and permanently pinched sphincters.
At what cost? (remember, low cost is crucial to successful manufacturing!)
Here’s what Global Foundries showed about costs:
So, now we have now included the investment and banking communities into our Sphincter Effect.
Enough! This is the road to ruin; well, at least to vastly diminishing returns (think Handel Jones’ chart [ElectroIQ link to ISS12 Day 2]
on how transistor cost is no longer going down…)
3D-IC is the solution. OK, so…. monolithic or TSV or interposer? Above I already mentioned a few of the risks and costs to a TSV/interposer solution. Look at all the new processes and machines that had to be developed to etch and fill such deep holes at least somewhat economically. And the integration issues are significant because of the novelty and the architecture & flow: Cu/silicon stresses, keep out zones, liners, new reliability fail modes, etc. As usual, these issues will likely be solved; hence, TSV & interposers will be useful for obtaining some cost and functional/architectural gains from its limited vertical connectivity. But they are not the endgame. To get fully back onto the economic scaling path we need rich vertical connectivity.
What about monolithic 3D-IC risks & costs? Fab equipment and unit processes exist. No new elements from the periodic table are necessary. And the gains resulting from this dense vertical connectivity keep us on a scaling equivalent path (no need to spend space here…lots has been written about this). Let’s instead look at the process details:
Oxides for ox-ox direct bonding: Deposited oxides are well understood and cheap. No new equipment or elements are needed. Lots of manufacturing proven techniques to get there: PECVD, SACVD, etc.
H Implant: Can be done on current models. No new equipment needed. Done by SOI manufacturers for 20 years. H in silicon is well understood.
Bonding: Two well-known equipment vendors (EVG & SUSSMicroTec) with low temp oxide to oxide bonding capability and significant sales of machines (mostly to BSI sensor folks at this time). A recent third new entry (MHI-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries) with room temp
ox-ox bonding. I recently blogged on this topic too. [BC LT direct bonding]
Cleave: Lots of methods proven for SOI manufacture, sensors, and solar. Simplest is thermal … just use a furnace or RTP. We made a short movie clip showing how simple cleave is with the AG RTP at Stanford.
Monolithic 3D-IC uses existing wafer-fab equipment, needs no new elements from the periodic table, and utilizes well-known unit processes and chemistries.
What’s the catch? It’s the integration. Integration work (blood, sweat, and tears
) will always be there, even with no new elements, machines, chemistries, etc. Always. However, those who have done new process introductions know that integration is significantly
less risky (= costly) and faster to market without than with the elements/machine/chemistry changes. New modes of defect generation are always generated from integration, but there are a lot less of them if all the unit processes are standard accepted practices, than if those unit processes are totally new.
If you look very very carefully at the MonolithIC 3D Inc’s process flows, you notice we were single mindedly focused on making it simple. For example, the nm-scale thru layer vias (TLVs) are always made thru the STI (Shallow Trench Isolation); hence, no dielectric liners, minimum stress, conventional etch and fill, nothing high aspect ratio about it. Make the TLV look and feel like a regular metal to metal via.
This shows in the costs. Deepak Sekar did a SEMATECH based cost estimate and talked about it in a blog. [Deepak Blog ion-cut cost]
Here’s his summary chart for 300mm wafers.
Validation of Monolithic 3D
One may make the argument that validation of a nascent & new game-changing technology is impossible, or at least very nearly so. However, for monolithic 3D-IC there are at least two important data-points to consider. And I hope that you will be convinced that monolithic 3D-IC is neither so nascent nor new.
NAND Memory Makers going 3D: People such as David Lammers of Semiconductor Manufacturing & Design Community [Lammers July 2011]
have pointed to validation evidence that the time of monolithic 3D-IC is near: the bleeding edge NAND memory makers are already moving to monolithic 3D-IC. “The advent of 3D NAND memories may be only two or three years away, speakers said at Semicon West in San Francisco. By 2013 the major memory companies developing 3D NAND, including Hynix, Samsung, and Toshiba, may be ready with pilot lines, moving to volume production a year or so later. Taiwan-based Macronix International also has been developing a 3D NAND solution.”
At the recent (2011) VLSI Symposium J. Choi of Samsung showed their view of how they will keep on making cheaper bits … by going 3D monolithically.
Second, the global semiconductor equipment leader, AMAT, has talked about sales into that market [SemiconWest2011-new products including 3D architecture support] [OptivaCVD for BSI]
and even has a video (Richard Lewington’s blog video noted above) to promote it.
When both manufacturers and equipment suppliers are talking about, committing to, and executing on a specific technology change, you know that the economics are attractive and not just niche. Think back to how HKMG and copper BEOL came to production.
The chicken and egg are out the window
….it’s happening now. The risks are contained. Others are going for it.
Whether polysilicon or monocrystalline silicon based monolithic 3D, jump in and be a part of this next important evolution of our great industry. Don’t miss out.
Today, we'll discuss why TSV pitches smaller than 500nm are useful and how one can achieve that. Evolutionary advances with today's TSV technology as well as radically new monolithic 3D approaches are options.
The Silicon Valley IEEE Components, Packaging and Manufacturing Technology (CPMT) Society invited me to give a talk on "Fine-Grain 3D Integration" last week. In case you're not familiar with this IEEE chapter, they host speakers from around the Valley periodically. Check out their website
if you get a chance - they have some nice talks lined up for the future. Now, let me describe the stuff I presented there. IntroductionAs many of you know, 3D technologies in the marketplace today have huge TSVs. For example, TSMC's 28nm technology has 6um diameter TSVs with 5um keep-out zone. Other manufacturers are offering similar TSV sizes too. When you start comparing these with on-chip feature sizes (28nm), you'll understand why I use the term "huge" to describe these TSVs. In contrast, fine-grain 3D technologies are defined as those having TSV pitches smaller than 500nm
. Why Fine-Grain 3D Integration?There are many applications that benefit from small TSV sizes. Fig. 1 describes the basic motivation - wires consume a lot more energy than transistor-based computation today, and 3D can reduce lengths of these wires. Micron-scale TSVs
can reduce chip-to-chip wire lengths, but smaller TSVs are needed to reduce on-chip wire lengths.
Figure 1: Situation in nVIDIA's 28nm chips.
Below are some uses for fine-grain 3D. Note that small TSV sizes (around minimum feature size) are required for some of these applications:
Limitations of today's TSV technologyLike many engineers, I believe understanding a problem is important for figuring out a solution. So, let's analyze why today's TSVs are so fat. Fig. 2 shows a typical process for high-density 3D-ICs.
- Short on-chip wires in logic cores and SoCs: Components within a single logic chip can be stacked atop each other to shorten on-chip wires. This leads to smaller gates, since these gates need to drive less wire capacitance. The result is reduced power and die size. Analyses show that a 2x reduction in power, a 2x reduction in silicon area and a 4x reduction in chip footprint may be possible by doubling the number of 3D stacked layers (link).
- Logic-SRAM stacking: The requirements of logic devices and SRAM on a chip are very different today. SRAM circuits typically require just 4 metal levels compared to 12 for logic circuits. SRAM transistors have different channel length, oxide thickness and threshold voltage compared to logic transistors too. In this scenario, it makes sense to stack SRAM and logic in 3D. The SRAM layer can be optimized for 4 metal levels and SRAM-type transistors, thereby saving cost.
- nMOS and pMOS stacking: Today's nMOS and pMOS transistors have different gate stacks, strain layers, implants and wells. Separate lithography steps are required for all of these. To save cost, one could stack the nMOS and pMOS atop each other. This reduces standard cell area too. Analysis from IBM shows that 30-40% reduction in standard cell area is possible for inverters, NAND and NOR cells by stacking nMOS and pMOS layers atop one another. Smaller standard cells result in shorter wires, improving power and performance.
Figure 2: Process flow for a bumpless bonded 3D TSV technology.
The limiting steps for TSV size in these face-to-back bonded technologies are: Step 5: Wafer thinning
- Aspect ratio limitations of TSV manufacturing processes nowadays are around 10:1. To get 1um diameter TSVs, one needs to have a 10um thick silicon layer. For this scenario, during the thinning step, a 775um thick wafer needs to be thinned down to 10um +/- 1um (10% tolerance). This 1um tolerance is very hard to achieve at high throughput. Many manufacturers take the easy way out and thin the silicon wafer from 775um to 50um +/- 5um (10% tolerance). For an aspect ratio of 10:1, a 50um silicon thickness will lead to 5um diameter TSVs. Step 7: Wafer alignment
- In this step, the top and bottom layers are aligned with each other and bonded. Misalignment occurs due to several reasons
- 3D align and bond tools on the market often do not have the stable alignment stages and image capture/storage required for sub-500nm pitch TSVs.
- Co-efficient of thermal expansion (CTE) mismatch between the top and bottom layers, wafer bow, thermal and stress induced flow of temporary bonding adhesives, localized bonding imperfections and other issues can cause um-scale misalignment.
Evolutionary Improvement of Today's TSV Technologies
In this section, I will summarize evolutionary ways to improve today's TSV technologies. IBM and MIT Lincoln Labs are the pioneers in this area, as are image sensor makers such as Sony and Omnivision.
Wafer thinning techniques - Fig. 3 shows approaches to reduce wafer thickness from 775um to less than 1um. The method in Fig. 3(a) works for SOI wafers. Buried oxide layers of SOI wafers are used as etch stops to get low silicon thickness with sufficient precision. An alternative approach for bulk silicon wafers is shown in Fig. 3(b). Silicon etch solutions such as EDP have orders of magnitude lower etch rates for p++ silicon compared to p silicon. One could therefore use a p++ layer in a silicon wafer as an etch stop. Both these techniques are starting to be used in manufacture of back-side illuminated image sensors.
Figure 3: Next generation wafer thinning technologies that use etch stop layers.
Techniques to improve alignment accuracy
- For high density TSVs, companies prefer to use glass carrier wafers at present. The transparency of glass, combined with low silicon thickness of transferred films, allows one to look through the top wafer and align. Limitations of 3D alignment tools can be overcome with this technique. In addition, if glass carrier wafers are used, adhesives for attaching silicon to a carrier wafer can be optically debondable. Optically debondable adhesives are more stable at the high temperatures needed for bumpless bonding.
Besides using glass carriers, one could do a few more things:
- Use CTE matched carrier wafers - Even if you use borosilicate glass with an excellent CTE match with Si, a small CTE mismatch is introduced at bond temperatures. For example, at 300C, silicon wafer diameter can increase by 314um while borosilicate glass diameter can increase by 264um. This difference in diameter can introduce alignment error. If you want to get sub-500nm pitch, costlier glasses that have CTE-match with silicon at various temperatures are required (Fig. 4(a)).
- Use oxide-to-oxide bonding - For fine-grain 3D, oxide-to-oxide bonding is the technique of choice due to the low temperatures involved vs. Cu-Cu bonding. Lower temperatures reduce CTE mismatch errors. In an oxide-to-oxide bonding process, a weak bond is formed at room temperature. Following this, a post-bond anneal (~300C) is done to get a stronger bond. The alignment got at room temperature is largely maintained. Less than 400nm misalignment is introduced by the post-bond anneal (Fig. 4(b)).
- Use wafer bow compensation - Wafers can frequently have bow of 50-100um, making sub-micron alignment accuracy difficult while bonding. IBM and MIT have developed wafer bow compensation schemes to reduce this. For example, one could deposit thin films on back sides of wafers to compensate partially for the wafer bow. See Fig. 4(c).
Click to enlarge.
Figure 4(a)-(c) from left to right: (a) CTE match of various glasses with silicon. (b) Change of alignment after post-bond anneal. (c) Wafer bow compensation schemes.
IBM built prototypes utilizing many of these techniques. SOI wafers and buried oxide etch stop layers enabled transfer of thin silicon. CTE-matched borofloat glass carriers, oxide-to-oxide bonding and wafer bow compensation schemes were used. IBM's best prototypes had a TSV pitch of 6.7um, and they said 2um pitch would be possible when bonders with sub-0.5um alignment accuracy are available (which is the case today). Essentially, we can reduce TSV pitches from the 20um we get in the marketplace today to around 2um. I believe it may be possible to lower TSV pitches to less than 500nm by improving processes further. Please see slides of my talk for details.The Monolithic 3D PathWith monolithic 3D
technology, additional transistor layers are constructed monolithically atop Cu/low k layers. This could lead to TSV size close to minimum feature size, which is needed for many of the fine-grain 3D applications described above.
Fig. 5 indicates the main barrier to creating high-quality transistors at Cu/low k compatible temperatures (sub-400C) is dopant activation.
Figure 5: Steps required for constructing a silicon transistor.
Fig. 6 describes one approach to overcome this problem, which utilizes recessed channel transistors. These have been used in DRAM manufacturing since the 90nm node, and are known to be competitive with standard planar transistors
. As can be seen in Fig. 6, high temperature dopant activation steps are conducted before transferring bilayer n+/p silicon layers atop Cu/low k using ion-cut
. For ion-cut, hydrogen is implanted into a wafer at a certain depth creating a defect plane. Following this, the wafer is bonded to the bottom device layer using oxide-to-oxide bonding. The bonded structure can now be cleaved at the hydrogen plane using a 400C anneal or a sideways mechanical force. CMP is done to planarize the transferred surface. Transferred layers are unpatterned, therefore no misalignment issues occur while bonding. Following bonding, sub-400C etch and deposition steps are used to define the recessed channel transistor. This is enabled by the unique structure of the device. These transistor definition steps can use alignment marks of the bottom Cu/low k stack since transferred silicon films are thin (usually sub-100nm) and transparent. Minimum feature size through-silicon connections can be produced due to the excellent alignment.
Figure 6: (a) A recessed channel transistor (b) Process flow for monolithic 3D logic. Bottom device layer with Cu/low k does not see more than 400C. Through-silicon connections can be close to minimum feature size due to the thin-film process.
A few points about Fig. 6: (i) All materials, process steps and device structures are well-known and are used in high-volume manufacturing (ii) The original donor wafer with n+ and p layers can be reused after layer transfer. This is an advantage over today's TSV processes, where one spends time and cost etching away a 300mm wafer that costs $120. (iii) Though-silicon via connections are minimum feature size, enabling large improvements (As described previously, benefits can be 2x lower power, 2x lower silicon area by doubling the number of device layers. nMOS and pMOS stacking is possible.) The main risk is the use of DRAM-type recessed channel transistors in logic technologies. My somewhat biased view is that recessed channel transistors have been used in DRAM manufacturing since the 80nm node, so they may not be difficult for logic manufacturers to bring up and make competitive (especially for low-power applications).
Anyway, it is time to sign off now. If you are at the IEEE 3D System Integration Conference in Japan next week, don't forget to attend MonolithIC 3D Inc.'s presentation. I will be giving an invited talk titled "Monolithic 3D-ICs with Single Crystal Silicon Layers".
Disclosure: I work at MonolithIC 3D Inc., a company developing monolithic 3D technologies. I have tried to be as unbiased as possible while describing 3D-TSV and monolithic 3D technologies. However, if you disagree with something written in this blog post, please let me know in the comments section. I would welcome the discussion. Thank you.- Post by Deepak Sekar
We have a guest contribution today from Ze'ev Wurman, MonolithIC 3D Inc.'s Chief Software Architect. Ze'ev discusses yield and repair issues with 3D stacked chips.
In today's blog post, we'll look at TSV sizes for TSMC, IBM and others, and discuss technical reasons for the fat TSVs we are seeing... I'll present solutions to this issue at the IEEE CPMT Society on Wednesday.