IBM, Micron claim breakthrough in 3D chips

IBM and Micron claim to have made a significant breakthrough in 3D chip manufacturing, as Micron plans to use IBM’s new through-silicon vias, or TSVs, to build a Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC). 

TSVs are vertical conduits which connect a stack of chips to  allow for extremely fast connections, up to 15 times faster than technology available now. It’s IBM’s 3D manufacturing that has made the product possible. Parts for the Micron kit will be made at IBM’s fab in East Fishkill, New York, using its 32nm high-K metal gate process.

Current top devices typically offer speeds of up to 12.8 GB/s, but Micron’s HMC should be able to manage 128 GB/s. On top of that, the HMC runs on 70 percent energy compared to existing devices, and on a small form factor that’s about 10 percent the size of traditional memory products.

IBM thinks the HMC will open the door to all sorts of ultra high-performance applications. It will reach the consumer eventually, but not before it finds its way into high performance computing, large scale networking and industrial automation.

IBM fellow Subu Iyer said in a statement that the product is a “milestone” in the move toward 3D semiconductor manufacturing. “In the next few years,” Iyer says, “3D chip technology will make its way into consumer products, and we can expect tosee drastic improvements in battery life and functionality.”

IBM is planning to show off further details about its TSV manufacturing at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting on 5 December.