Monday, November 19, 2012

Focus on monolithic 3D-ICs paradigm shift for semicon industry

MonolithIC 3D Inc. was established in 2009 by Dr. Zvi Or-Bach, a well-known Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur, as NuPGA. The NuPGA's mission was to develop programmable logic technology with density, speed, and power approaching ASICs.

On the way, while developing improved FPGA technology, the NuPGA team discovered a path for practical monolithic 3D-ICs. Recognizing that this breakthrough and its many related innovations represented a paradigm shift for the entire semiconductor industry, Dr. Zvi Or-Bach changed the strategy to focus on monolithic 3D-ICs, and renamed the company MonolithIC 3D Inc.

Monolithic 3D is based in San Jose, California, USA, where I met Dr. Zvi Or-Bach, president and CEO.
First, I asked him to elaborate on the technology breakthrough that allows the fabrication of semiconductor devices with multiple tiers of copper connected active devices utilizing conventional fab equipment.

Dr. Zvi Or-Bach said: "The challenge is that once interconnect made of copper (or aluminum) is in that wafer should not be process at higher than 400 degrees C. The common view is that forming single crystal transistors would require higher than 1,000 c. The common view is that forming transistor in monocrystalline silicon layer require higher than 800 c. MonolithIC 3D's innovation is finding path to overcome the above challenge utilizing monocrystalline silicon layer and conventional fab equipment."

MonolithIC 3D offers solutions for logic and memory technologies, with significant benefits for cost, power and operating speed. The benefits for logic is detailed in Monolithic's blog: Is the Cost Reduction Associated with Scaling Over?

Monolithic 3D provides the equivalent of one node of scaling for every folding at fraction of the development and equipment costs. And, it provide additional benefits such as:
* Significant advantages for using the same fab, design tools.
* Heterogeneous integration.
* Process multiple layers together Nx cost improvement.
* Logic redundancy => 100x integration.
* Enable modular design.

Dr. Zvi Or-Bach added: "The benefits for memory is that allow processing multi-layers of  single-crystal memories at comparable lithography cost of single layer. As of today, lithography costs dominate process costs than monolithic 3D allow future scaling at ever reduce costs and higher memory capacity."

The company believes in collaboration with existing players in the semiconductor industry. MonolithIC 3D is not an IC producer, but rather, a technology innovator, who also file many patents which are available to be license by all industry players. Monolithic has been assigned a patent (8,294,159) developed by five co-inventors for a "method for fabrication of a semiconductor device and structure.  In fact, MonolithIC 3D has now been 20 granted patents of which 20 had been already issued.

PS: I am extremely grateful to Dr. Tim Majumdar, senior RF engineering manager and inventor,  who pointed me to this company.

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