We have a guest contribution today from Israel Beinglass, the CTO of MonolithIC 3D Inc. Israel discusses the opportunities of 3D NAND with Monolithic 3D.
NAND technology, which is a subset of NVM (Non Volatile Memory), was invented by Fujio Masuoka of Toshiba back in 1984. Flash memory was presented at IEDM1984 by Dr. Masuoka and his colleagues . The following is a short quote from the original paper “the cell is programmed by a channel hot carrier injection mechanism similar to EPROM. The contents of all memory cells are simultaneously erased by using field emission of electrons from a floating gate to an erased gate in a FLASH (Hence the name FLASH)”.
Masuoka came back to the IEDM in 1987 and suggested a Flash NAND structure .
Intel created the first commercial NOR type of Flash chips in 1988. For the next few years some major developments occur in the Flash arena:
- In 1989, Samsung and Toshiba created a NAND flash memory.
- In 1994, Compact Flash was invented and introduced by SanDisk.
- In 1999, the SD memory card was released by a combination of SanDisk, Toshiba and Matsushita.
- In 2001, the world’s first 1 Gigabit Compact Flash card was introduced.
From 2006 onwards, NAND became the most scaled of devices beating out the microprocessor devices (see Figure 1). The current state of the art is 20nm (2x) technology, as the world’s appetite for storage is still strong. Flash Cards, SSD, Smartphone and Tablets are the leading growing applications.
Figure 1: Flash Vs. Microprocessor design rules cross over
NAND memory as a true cross point array with the control gate on top of the floating gate and only one contact for a whole string of cells has the smallest memory cell size as shown in Figure 2 In addition, when one adds with the capability of MLC (Multi Level Cells) to NAND devices, the bit density dramatically increases.
Figure 2: NAND, circuit diagram and SEM pictures in x and y directions.
The NAND market has been continuously growing for the last several years. Figure 3 shows the NAND revenue and Gigabytes increase since 2008 and the forward projection for the years 2012-2016.
Figure 3: NAND Revenue and Gigabytes growth
As the NAND technology has been moving to smaller and smaller process nodes some serious problems, physical and electrical surfaced: Physical Limitations:
- Pattern scaling - lack of EUV is a major issue
- Structure formation, Figure 4 depicts a 27nm NAND cell that shows how close the cells are getting to each other, and how much the aspect ratio is getting out of hand. This is a limiter to obtaining high yield.
- There is an increase in cell-to-cell interference in the word lines.
- Capacitive coupling ratio has decreased
- Dielectric leakage has increased
The number of electrons on the floating gate has decreased dramatically so much so that a small fluctuation in the number on the floating gate can make a huge effect on the cell function. Figure 5 describes the scaling induced phenomenon.
Figure 4: A 27nm NAND cell structure
Figure 5: Number of electrons on the FG decreases for advanced NAND technology nodes
It is a common understanding among the experts that the current NAND technology will not be able to be scaled down to the 10nm node.
The solution for this dilemma is the 3D NAND, which was initially proposed by Toshiba at the 2007 VLSI Symposium . Toshiba unveiled its Bit Cost Scalable (BiCS) technology. BiCS makes use of a “punch-and plug” structure and charge trap memory films. Toshiba has fabricated a prototype 32-Gbit BiCS flash memory test array with a 16-layer memory cell using 60nm design rules, see Figure 6. Hynix, Samsung and Macronix have also come with their versions of the 3D NAND.
Figure 6: 3D NAND process steps, as described by Toshiba
The following are the key advantages of the 3D NAND:
- With 3D NAND, scaling is no longer driven by lithography. The gate length is defined by deposition
- The key steps to 3D NAND are
- Build a multitude of oxide/nitride or oxide/doped polysilicon stacked layers
- Fill the deep memory holes or trench slits. The top foreseeable challenges are ultra-high-aspect ratio (>40:1) conductor etch and dielectric etch with high etch selectivity to the hard mask
- 3D NAND is relatively straightforward for a DRAM maker since it has stacked SiO2 and polysilicon layers like a stacked capacitor DRAM, and trenches like a trench cell DRAM.
- 3D NAND is evolutionary, not revolutionary.
- The good news is continued cost reduction, smaller die sizes and more capacity.
- Installed NAND toolsets in the wafer Fabs can, for the most part, be reused, thereby extending the useful life of Fab equipment.
- 3D NAND technology is still basically NAND with all its inherent limitations of data reliability and performance: hence, generally well understood (evolutionary).
At this point all the NAND companies are putting a lot of effort to bring this process to high volume manufacturing; the current expectations are that in 2014-2015 it will be ready for prime time. 3D NAND will be a technology that will take us between the 2D planar NAND and whichever post-NAND technology emerges in the future.
Figure 7: 3D NAND effect on design rules
Figure 7 describes the essence of the advantage of moving from 2D to 3D NAND. The adoption of 3D NAND technology will remove the burden from the Litho (and hence EUV) into the much easier process steps (deposition). Of course there are other advantages as described above.
It is not too difficult to see the similarity between the up and coming 3D NAND and the Monolithic 3D approach. As we describe in our web site (www.monolithic3d.com
) the advanced technology patented by MonolithIC 3D Inc. enables the fabrication of Monolithic 3D Integrated Circuits with multiple stacked transistor layers and ultra-dense vertical
connectivity. Thus, it appears monolithic 3D-ICs with 2 device layers provide benefits similar to a generation of conventional scaling
. Furthermore, just as conventional scaling reduces feature sizes every generation, monolithic 3D opens the road for many years of continuous scaling by ‘folding’ once, twice, and so forth without necessarily reducing feature sizes
- F. Masuoka et. al IEDM 1984 pp464-467
- F. Masuoka et. al IEDM 1987 pp552-555
- H. Tanaka et al., Symp. on VLSI Tech. Dig., pp 14-15, 2007
We have a guest contribution today from Israel Beinglass, the CTO of MonolithIC 3D Inc. Israel discusses about Intel vs. Foundries.
Do real men need to have a fab?
Will Apple and Qualcomm become IDMs?
A lot of turmoil recently arose over the lack of TSMC capacity to support the 28nm logic ramp. Some of the larger TSMC customers such as Qualcomm and Nvidia made public their disenchantment with TSMC’s delivery of 28nm products.
Let’s try to put things in order and analyze the situation thoroughly, especially from the point of view of process capabilities and performances. There are obvious differences between what Intel does and what the foundries do. For this discussion we will use TSMC to represent the foundries. Both companies, Intel and TSMC, are making logic devices so we can compare their respective capabilities in the logic arena. For the last few decades Intel has been the leader in the area of process technology with the introduction of several process innovations as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Intel innovation in process technology for the last decade (Intel web site)
For the most of the generations, the rest of the crowd has been trying to catch up with Intel. Sometime they are doing it within one node but other times they are not that successful and it takes several nodes to catch up.
Figure 2 is Intel’s view of the gap between them and the foundries, which I mostly agree with.
Figure 2: Intel’s leadership over foundries and other IDMs (Intel development forum 2012)
It is very clear that Intel is the “king of process” and leads the rest of the industry by leap and bounds. In a way it is somewhat not a fair competition for the following reasons:Intel:
A “one product company”, it is a company that thrives on the PC market with the high performance family of the microprocessors (including servers) as their main product line.
It is well known that their efforts into mobile devices has not (yet) been successful, even with the billions of dollars already invested.
The process technology machine is second to none; nobody can even get close to Intel’s transistor performance.
The foundries are continuously trying (unsuccessfully) to catch up with IntelTSMC (as representing the foundries):
Running many different devices with multiple technology nodes and wafer sizes
Running hundreds of different products where some are high volume runners and some run only a handful of wafers per year.
Adjusting the process parameters for many of the products so that the yield will be optimum for each one of them. This could be a nightmare for an efficient fab operation…very different than what Intel is running in their fabs.
As mentioned at the beginning, an interesting situation has emerged within the last few months; the so called “the 28nm foundry crisis”. The situation came from an unforeseen huge demand for the just-introduced-to-production 28nm process. It is an unprecedented situation where the demand for a new node outstrips the current supply. All of the foundries are scrambling to increase production in order to satisfy the unhappy customers.
Here are some quotes to that effect by some of the major players.
- Qualcomm: “We are seeing very strong demand for our industry-leading Snapdragon 4, MSM8960, and other 28nm products,” Qualcomm's CEO Paul Jacobs told press and analysts during the company's earnings call late yesterday. 'Although the manufacturing yields are progressing per expectations, there is a shortage of 28nm capacity.
- Nvidia Corp’s CEO Huang: …“besides continuously increasing capital expenditures that the company ran into in the recent months will be accompanied by lower than expected gross margins in the forthcoming quarter”. The company blames low yields of the next-generation code-named Kepler graphics chips that are made at TSMC’s 28nm node.
- Mark Bohr, who is the director of process architecture & integration and senior fellow of technology and manufacturing group at Intel, told EETimes that “the foundry model is collapsing. Chipmakers like Qualcomm will not be able to use TSMC’s single 20nm process”.
All of the major foundries are scrambling to add 28nm capacity:
TSMC: Producing 28nm in Fab 14(Phase 4, 5) and Fab 15 (phase 1, 2). Planning to move Fab 15 (phase 3, 4) to 28nm by the end of the year
GlobalFoundries: Running 32/28nm process in their Dresden fab and plan to move production on 32/28nm in their new Fab in Malta, NY
UMC: Ramping 28nm in their Fab 12A (phase 3, 4)
Samsung: The Korean Fab S1 is ramping 28nm production and rumors are that they will be converting line 14 (NAND Fab) to 28nm logic as well as the Austin NAND fab.
Several issues need to be addressed from this fiasco:
- What happened? Why this big and sudden capacity crunch?
- Are we setting ourselves up for a glut in 28nm capacity in 2013?
- Is some of the demand a result of double booking – a well known disaster in the making….
- Are Qualcomm and Apple going to be so disgusted with the situation that at the end of the day they will decide to follow the former AMD CEO Jerry Sanders’s saying “Only real men have fabs”?
My assessment to these 4 items is the following:
1. The foundries fell asleep at the switch when they misread the advanced technology that Intel was bringing up and that their main customers needed the performance that the 28nm brings. Also the big fiasco of gate first vs. gate last on HighK metal gate and the long time it took for them to understand and execute this new process (some are even still using the inferior oxide/poly gate).
2. It is typical to our industry (see the DRAM history) that when there is a shortage in one type of device/technology everybody is jumping the gun and increase production in an uncontrolled manner trying to capture more volume. At the end of the day there will definitely be an oversupply.
3. Rumors are because of the situation that there already is double booking (sounds familiar….)
Both Apple and Qualcomm can afford with all the cash they are sitting on to have their own fabs to mitigate this kind of disaster…Will they do that? I personally doubt it. It is uncharacteristic to their business practice: however, depending on underperforming foundries is not a desirable situation.
As for the future, the situation is not getting easier. Intel has already announced and started high volume production of the new 22nm using FinFET (Tri Gate) transistor, a whole new concept for a production transistor structure.
Would the foundries be ready for that or we will again see fumbling around the issue? Do we really need FinFET at 22(20) nm or not?
We have a guest contribution today from Israel Beinglass, the CTO of MonolithIC 3D Inc. Israel discusses about TSVs.
Have you read some of the recent TSV headlines?
1. January 31, 2012 - CEA-Leti launched a major new platform, Open 3D, that provides industrial and academic partners with a global offer of mature 3D packaging technologies
for their advanced semiconductor
products and research projects.
2. March 7, 2012 - Semiconductor fab equipment supplier Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT)
opened the new Centre of Excellence in Advanced Packaging at Singapore's Science Park II with its partner in the endeavor, the Institute of Microelectronics (IME)
3. March 26, 2012 - PRNewswire - Semiconductor
design/manufacturing software supplier Synopsys Inc. (Nasdaq: SNPS
) is combining several products into a 3D-IC initiative for semiconductor designers moving to stacked-die silicon systems in 3D packaging
It is amazing that after so many years of development and efforts and great presentations we are still not in a full production and still basic R&D as well as EDA still in infancy.
Most people in the Industry consider Merlin Smith and Emanuel Stern of IBM the inventors of TSV based on their patent “Methods of Making Thru-Connections in Semiconductor Wafers” filed on December 28, 1964 and granted on September 26, 1967, as shown below patent number 3,343,256
Figure 1: IBM TSV patent
In April 12, 2007 IBM announced a breakthrough new 3D technology:
Armonk, NY - 12 Apr, 2007: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a breakthrough chip-stacking technology in a manufacturing environment that paves the way for three-dimensional chips that will extend Moore’s Law beyond its expected limits. The technology – called “through-silicon vias” - allows different chip components to be packaged much closer together for faster, smaller, and lower-power systems… IBM is already running chips using the through-silicon via technology in its manufacturing line and will begin making sample chips using this method available to customers in the second half of 2007, with production in 2008.
Figure 2: Original story on TSV advantages followed IBM announcement
Figure 2 is taken from Ignatowski’s presentation made shortly after IBM’s TSV announcement. This type of argument where chip stacking is compared to 2 chips side by side has become the corner stone of the TSV story (http://www.sematech.org/meetings/archives/3d/8334/pres/Ignatowski.pdf).
Already at that point (2007) it was clear to IBM that there were many issues with the technology that needed to be resolved. Figure 3 shows the IBM slide discussing some of the problems for implementing TSV for mass production.
Figure 3: Issues per IBM with the TSV technology
During the years following and through to today there have been many attempts to bring the technology to the mass production. All have been without real success.
The professional literature is full of beautiful road maps showing how TSV is going to change the industry with “more than Moore” as the next scaling methodology.
Figure 4 is the Advanced Packaging road map for Texas Instruments which is typical of most companies Packaging/TSV road maps.
Figure 4: TI Packaging Technology Trends Dec 2011
There are several issues that are facing the industry when trying to implement TSV technology: (not in any specific order)
- Via etching and filling are extremely slow since the dimensions are very different from the “normal” dimensions the industry uses (single/multiple digit microns for depth and diameter vs. nanometers, plus aspect ratios>5)
- Via, first, middle or last which way to go? Each affects the whole process logistics in differing ways
- How to integrate wafers from different sources Logic from IDM and/or foundry and memory from a memory Fab
- Wafer thinning, how to handle fully processed wafer 20-80 micron thick including bonding and de-bonding. Rumors are that both Applied Materials and TEL are developing this kind of a tool
- Wafer-to-wafer (W2W) or die-to-wafer (D2W) bonding: each have processing challenges
- Singulation of the final product
- Substrate (carrier)for TSV
Design and EDA:
- Design rules are currently not compatible with TSV
- Who is responsible for the “system” design if there are several sources for product to be integrated?
- EDA is way, way behind
- Thermal simulation and heat removal issues
Back end issues:
- Foundries/IDM vs. OSAT, who is doing what and who picks up yield loss
- Final test
- The major foundries have no memory knowledge or how to integrate the memory on top of logic
- Currently the cost associated with implementing TSV is at least for now higher than other solutions. This is hampering the motivation to develop and implement the TSV technology.
Also the CapEx to implement TSV needs to be addressed, Figure 5 is a table put together by ASE that shows the readiness of the various equipment needed to run a typical TSV process.
Figure 5: TSV equipment readiness per ASE
One of the key issues that some people are neglecting right now is the fact that we do have an interim solution to the problem. It may- probably not be the best solution and perhaps not the most elegant one but it does work. These are the variety of packaging techniques using chip on chip with wire bonding, and assortment solutions (PoP etc).
Figure 6: Alternative methods for 3D chip connectivity
The following are some of the comments made by industry experts over the last few months.TSMCDoug Yu’s keynote address at the 3D Architectures for Semiconductor Integration and Packaging Conference in December, he noted that TSMC intends to provide full 2.5F and 3D service including chip design and fabrication, stacking and packaging. Yu, who is senior director of integrated interconnect and packaging, R&D at TSMC, outlined the key technologies that offer the best path to commercializing 3D integration technologies, with the implication that TSMC is well positioned to provide them all.
“TSV is much more complex and challenging than ever before,” noted Yu. “There’s a new ballgame and a small window.” He said a conventional collaboration infrastructure is becoming harder. Integration must be simplified to reduce handling and an investment beyond conventional back-end (in other words, middle-end-of-line tools and processes) is required. In short, Yu said a full spectrum of expertise is needed that includes manufacturing excellence, capacity and customer relationships where there is no competition with the customer
HynixNick Kim VP of Packaging announced that for Hynix, production of 3D devices is no longer a matter of if but when and how (http://www.infoneedle.com/posting/100669?snc=20641)
Kim provided a detailed cost breakdown illustrating why 3D TSV stacks are more expensive (1.3x more) than wire bond stacks to manufacture. Overall, TSVs alone add 25% to the manufacturing cost because there is additional cost at each step:
- Design: net die area decreases due to TSV array.
- Fab: increased process steps due to TSVG formation, and capex for TSV equipment.
- Packaging: Bumping, stacking, low yield and CapEx for backside processing equipment such as temporary bond and de-bond.
- Test: Probe and final package test time is increased because of the need to test at each layer as well as final.
- Hynix 3D roadmap: volume TSV production will officially start after 2013:
- DRAM on Logic for mobile applications in a known good stacked die (KGSD) driven by form factor and power, are in development in 2012 with low production expected early 2013 ramping to volume late 2014.
- DRAM on interposer in a 2.5D configuration for graphics applications, driven by bandwidth and capacity is in development in 2012 with low production expected by the end of the year and ramping to HVM early in 2014.
- 3D DRAM on substrate for high performance computing (HPC) driven by bandwidth and capacity is in development in 2012, with low production expected early 2013, ramping to volume late 2014.
In terms of supply chain management, Kim sees Hynix favoring the open ecosystem where logic and memory prepared with/for TSV from foundries and IDMs going to OSATs for assembly.
Overall it looks almost like a nightmare to implement TSV in a manufacturing facility. Even if all the processes steps will be taken care of, the logistics and co-ordination with different Fabs and OSAT are definitely no fun!!!
It looks like when we sum all the issues regarding the TSV methodology for achieving 3D, the approach of monolithic 3D suggested by MonolithIC 3D could resolve many of these issues and offer a far greater cost/performance gain from going 3D. Most of these advantages were already discussed in previous blogs and are part of the company web site,
Just few items that I would like to highlight:
Please comment and let’s get a discussion going.
- Practically no limit on the amount of vias between the different chips in the stack.
- No deep TSV – nanometers, not microns!
- All done within the IDM or the foundry – better yield control & ramp, and no pointing fingers.
We have a guest contribution today from Israel Beinglass, the CTO of MonolithIC 3D Inc. Israel discusses about the semiconductor equipment manufacturing: "Who wins from the recent consolidation?"
2011 was a big year for consolidation in the semiconductor equipment manufacturing industry. The year started with the Varian acquisition by Applied Materials and was ended with the merger announcement of Novellus and Lam Research (not concluded when this blog is written).
The equipment business is relatively conservative and for many years only few noticeable successful M&A were done. Few past M&A were of a strategic nature. In these cases a large corporation buys a smaller one to either develop a product line or to buy into a growing product line. Table 1 is a snapshot of some past M&A activities in the short history of the semiconductor equipment industry-by far not a complete list.
Table 1 - Past M&A activities
As one can see many of the M&A turned to be a failure and became a big drain on the acquirer balance sheet. In several cases the company seized operation of the acquired company after several years, in other cases it is still going on with a moderate or very limited success. To mention two cases of a real success I can point to the Veeco acquisition of the MOCVD from Emcore and the merger of KLA with Tencor. In both cases the M&A dramatically boosted the company’s position, market cap and market share.
Going back to the two recent M&A namely Applied Materials Varian and Lam Novellus the question is how this will affect the semiconductor industry and who is going to benefit from it.
I definitely view these two activities in a positive way. 1
. Applied Materials and Varian: Looks like Varian had practically all the implant market and really didn’t have any room to grow (beside the new solar implant business-highly speculative). So selling the company to Applied Materials helped a lot… the employees and the top executives that suddenly got their stock price almost double…From Applied Materials point of view they now controlling most of the front end equipment and can influence the transistor technology more than before. Though I might emphasize as I mentioned in a previous Blog that the percentage of the implant business in the whole semi CapEx pie is shrinking in the last few years and probably with the introduction of the FINFET-Tri gate it will shrink even more. Still for Applied strong position in the Epi, RTP and Implant market they do have good position in the front end. The missing link of course is a good position in the ALD technology (controlled by ASMI).
In other hand customers don’t like to see too much power at the hand of one equipment vendor; they do like to see competition. Not clear how it will be played in the implant arena since no other real competitor in the horizon. 2
. LAM Novellus: This merger was proposed many years ago and almost every year was rumored to go through without actually happening to the dismay of analysts and others. However eventually it did happen! By combining the winning position of Lam in the etch and Novellus in the CVD the new combined company could expand and offers new modules and combinations of products especially in the back end and in the emerging double (quadruple) patterning that becomes a very important module in the advanced lithography.
In order to complete this discussion we need to look at the future, and in the future new technology of 3D devices will become a reality. Let’s discuss now how these M&A will affect the new world of 3D devices.
- No real effect from the Applied Materials Varian deal since the implant is only a front end technology. Not clear if the Plasma Doping (PLAD) that supposes to do material modifications has any impact in the back end.
- For the Lam Novellus deal it could enhance the TSV technology since they could bring a more comprehensive solution to the TSV module that will include the etching, deposition and Cu plating. Of course they are missing the market leading position that Applied Materials has in the Cu barrier seed PVD equipment.
- Monolithic 3D
- Since Applied Materials own now the implant business they could easily get involved in the smart cut technology from point of view of proliferate it to the rest of the world, as it is currently dominate only by the SOI wafers manufacturing. Owning the RTP and Epi helps well in the Monolithic 3D module.
- No real effect from the Lam Novellus deal.
- The future introduction of Monolithic 3D technology into the Fab present an opportunity to all the equipment manufacturing companies from several new tools that need to be proliferate into the process flow.
We have a guest contribution today from Israel Beinglass, the CTO of MonolithIC 3D Inc. Israel discusses the foundry industry's history as well as its current landscape...
We have a guest contribution today from Israel Beinglass, the CTO of MonolithIC 3D Inc. Israel was at Applied Materials for almost two decades, and served as Chief Technology Officer and Chief Marketing Officer for many groups there.
We have a guest contribution today from Israel Beinglass, the CTO of MonolithIC 3D Inc. Israel was at Applied Materials for almost two decades, and served as Chief Technology Officer and Chief Marketing Officer for many groups there.
We have a guest contribution today from Israel Beinglass, MonolithIC 3D Inc.'s CTO. Israel talks about how 3D technology can accelerate Moore's Law by providing more than 2x transistor density every two years.
We have a guest contribution today from Israel Beinglass, the CTO of MonolithIC 3D Inc. Israel talks about the use of monolithic 3D integration for SRAM stacking above/below logic.
We have a guest contribution today from Israel Beinglass, the CTO of MonolithIC 3D Inc. Israel was at Applied Materials for almost two decades, and served as Chief Technology Officer and Chief Marketing Officer for many groups there. In this blog-post, Israel discusses an interesting trend he sees in the semiconductor industry today.