IMEC Expands 3D Packaging Research Program

IMEC expands its 3D packaging research program to fully exploit the potential of novel 3D technologies. Besides 3D interconnection technologies developments, the program is extended with research on system design methodologies. Both the technology and design sub-programs will be based on actual system requirements and closely coupled.

IMEC develops different 3D system integration concepts each offering specific advantages for certain application domains. Current research focuses on 3D system-in-a-package (3D SiP), based on the classic packaging infrastructure; 3D wafer-level-packaging (3D WLP), based on the emerging wafer-level-packaging infrastructure; and 3D stacked IC (3D SIC), based on foundry-level 3D technology additions. Depending on the application and the systems requirements, a specific 3D solution needs to be chosen. In the future, IMEC intends to extend its 3D system technology program with a 3D IC program which will investigate wafer stacking for interconnects at the IC local interconnect level.

To fully exploit the potential of novel 3D technologies and limit the integration cost, IMEC decided to adapt its 3D program. Rather than basing its 3D system research on pure technological process developments trying to realize the highest possible through silicon via aspect ratio, IMEC will base its research in this field on actual system requirements such as cost, testability, functionality and power. For this reason IMEC also added a design technology sub-program in which system architectures will be revised. By involving other companies such as e.g. fabless companies and EDA companies, IMEC aims to develop 3D architecture methodologies enabling 3D optimization across heterogeneous technologies. The technology development sub-program and the design methodologies sub-program will be tightly coupled.

Within the design sub-program, IMEC will explore the impact of 3D integration on the design of advanced systems. Methodologies to optimally partition and stack the different parts of the system will be developed and solutions for critical design issues. This will enable effective use of 3D interconnection on the system level. Design methodologies will also be explored for heterogeneous integration of intelligent 3D sensor systems.

“3D integration shows promise to become the “holy grail” for system integration with applications ranging from electronics for consumer, automotive, medical, office and networking applications. It offers higher transistor density, faster interconnects, integration of heterogeneous technologies and consequently an increase of system functionality,” said Luc Van den hove, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at IMEC. “To offer our partners all relevant knowledge and technologies to optimally benefit from this potential, we decided to extend our 3D program with a design subprogram and to link the technology and design developments with applications.”

About IMEC
IMEC is a world-leading independent research center in nanoelectronics and nanotechnology. Its research focuses on the next generations of chips and systems, and on the enabling technologies for ambient intelligence. IMEC’s research bridges the gap between fundamental research at universities and technology development in industry. Its unique balance of processing and system know-how, intellectual property portfolio, state-of-the-art infrastructure and its strong network of companies, universities and research institutes worldwide position IMEC as a key partner for shaping technologies for future systems.

IMEC is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, has a sister company in the Netherlands, IMEC Nederland, concentrating on wireless autonomous transducer solutions, and has representatives in the US, China and Japan. Its staff of more than 1500 people includes more than 500 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2006, its revenue (P&L) was EUR 227 million.