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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

EDPS: 3D-IC Showers & Flowers

April 6th, 2012 by Peggy Aycinena

It’s April 2012, and both spring and 3D-ICs are in the air. But if Spring means April showers and May flowers, what do 3D-ICs mean?

Well, if you were at EDPS in Seaside this morning, at the Monterey Beach Resort, you would have heard from a host of speakers all addressing the April showers and May flowers of 3D-ICs. The session was organized and well moderated by eda2asic’s Herb Reiter.

* Showers –

Heat … 3D-ICs kick up a lot of thermal issues between the layers.

* Flowers –

Multiple solutions are under consideration for heat. If you’re rich like IBM, you talk about micro-channels where cooling waters will flow. If you’re not rich – like everybody else – you don’t yet know what to do to sink that heat off-chip and out of harm’s way. Micro channels are too exotic, so stay tuned as solutions are sought out and implemented.

* Showers –

EDA Flow … it’s not quite here, according to many, even though the current tools may be good enough for some. Most believe there are larger needs that should be met.

* Flowers  –

Hopefully, tools will be emerging soon to help bring all of parts of the complex 3D chip together – system-level type tools. Meanwhile the 3D-IC flow should include: Planning & Path-finding, Physical Design Implementation, Performance Validation, and Final Validation. EDA vendors, please take note.

* Showers –

Cost … the products that include 3D-IC are not cheap to design, and are still even more expensive to manufacture.

* Flowers –

Per back-of-the-envelope calculations, it currently adds anywhere from 20 cents to a buck to the cost of a die to implement TSVs in the design. The savings in terms of reduced battery costs for mobile devices, however, are beginning to match those TSV costs. Hence, TSVs and 3D-ICs are becoming economically viable.

* Showers –

Test … it seems inherently difficult to test 3D-ICs because of the convoluted nature of the layout compared to 2D architectures.

* Flowers  –

The world’s already used to dedicating 8% of on-chip real estate for traditional DFT structures, wrappers, etc. Estimated real estate costs required for 3D-IC DFT structures will only add an additional 1%, or so, and those wrappers are quickly becoming available.

* Showers –

Venture Capital … not enough money is being thrown at the problems associated with 3D.

* Flowers –

Many insist that 3D-ICs are now a reality. Where’s there reality, they say, the investment money is not far behind. It’s spring – have you hugged your VC lately?


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