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Re-integration commands shift in electronics manufacturing

29 Jan 2015  | Julien Happich

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His analysis is that even though Moore's law will give us more transistors at each new node, they will not be the right transistors, because process scaling will stop supporting diverse functionalities on a single die such as fast logic, low power logic, analogue and cache.

Hence, logically, engineers will want to break large single dies into specialised components to maximise the value of new and existing process nodes, only to be re-integrated through 2.5D and 3D stacks. In his view, IC integration will never move away from interposers, but on the contrary, silicon interposers will be the SoCs sockets of the future, hosting multi-sourced 3D components whose functionalities can scale at their own pace.

Silicon interposers will be the SoCs sockets of the future

Silicon interposers will be the SoCs sockets of the future (Source: AMD)

As the cost of stacked dies will reduce, OEMs will be able to leverage die-sharing instead of soft IP licensing, buying the best dies on the market and assembling them to craft their own SoCs. To do the integration themselves, large OEMs would want to invest in the OSATs or the foundries doing the packaging.

"In the server space, who knows better than Google or Facebook what they need?" Black added. "These guys don't want to be tied to AMD or Intel's hardware offerings, but they are not going either to out-innovate semiconductor firms, they just need to add their own innovation."

"So ideally, they would want an IC with a blank socket in it to do their own things," commented Black, admitting he had had such discussions with Google engineers.

This die-level IP sharing vision where large OEMs would buy guaranteed tested dies from different vendors and manage their own 2.5D interposer socket, in some cases even adding their own ASIC into the mix, is very much in line with the vertical re-integration scenario envisaged by ATREG.

"It is an interesting time for a business model change," concluded Black, hinting at the fact that silicon vendors may want to focus on selling more discrete dies of proven IP instead of large do-it-all integrated dies falling short of OEMs' expectations.

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