There is a saying in real estate; when land get expensive, multi-storied buildings are the alternative solution. We have a similar situation in the chip industry. For the past thirty years, chip designers have considered whether building integrated circuits multiple layers might create cheaper, more powerful chips.
Performance of deep-sub micrometer very large scale integrated (VLSI) circuits is being increasingly dominated by the interconnects due to increasing wire pitch and increasing die size. Additionally, heterogeneous integration of different technologies on one single chip is becoming increasingly desirable, for which planar (2-D) ICs may not be suitable.
The three dimensional (3-D) chip design strategy exploits the vertical dimension to alleviate the interconnect related problems and to facilitate heterogeneous integration of technologies to realize system on a chip (SoC) design. By simply dividing a planar chip into separate blocks, each occupying a separate physical level interconnected by short and vertical interlayer interconnects (VILICs), significant improvement in performance and reduction in wire-limited chip area can be achieved.
In the 3-Ddesign architecture, an entire chip is divided into a number of blocks, and each block is placed on a separate layer of Si that are stacked on top of each other.
2. MOTIVATION FOR 3-D ICs
The unprecedented growth of the computer and the information technology industry is demanding Very Large Scale Integrated ( VLSI ) circuits with increasing functionality and performance at minimum cost and power dissipation. Continuous scaling of VLSI circuits is reducing gate delays but rapidly increasing interconnect delays. A significant fraction of the total power consumption can be due to the wiring network used for clock distribution, which is usually realized using long global wires.
Furthermore, increasing drive for the integration of disparate signals (digital, analog, RF) and technologies (SOI, SiGe, GaAs, and so on) is introducing various SoC design concepts, for which existing planner (2-D) IC design may not be suitable.
INTERCONNECT LIMITED VLSI PERFORMANCE
In single Si layer (2-D) ICs, chip size is continuously increasing despite reductions in feature size made possible by advances in IC technology such as lithography and etching. This is due to the ever growing demand for functionality and high performance, which causes increased complexity of chip design, requiring more and more transistors to be closely packed and connected. Small feature sizes have dramatically improved device performance. The impact of this miniaturization on the performance of interconnect wire, however, has been less positive. Smaller wire cross sections, smaller wire pitch, and longer line to traverse larger chips have increase the resistance and capacitance of these lines, resulting in a significant increase in signal propagation (RC) delay. As interconnect scaling continues, RC delay is increasingly becoming the dominant factor determining the performance of advanced ICâ„¢s.
PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS OF Cu INTERCONNECTS
At 250 nm technology node, Cu with low-k dielectric was introduced to alleviate the adverse effect of increasing interconnect delay.However,below 130nm technology node, substantial interconnect delays would result in spite of introducing these new materials, which in turn will severely limit the chip performance. Further reduction in interconnect delay is not possible.
This problem is especially acute for global interconnects, which comprise about 10% of total wiring in current architectures. Therefore, it is apparent that material limitations will ultimately limit the performance improvement as technology scales. Also, the problem of long lossy lines cannot be fixed by simply widening the metal lines and by using thicker interlayer dielectric, since this will leas to an increase in the number of metal layers. This will result in an increase in complexity, reliability and cost.
SYSTEM â€œ ON â€œ A â€œ CHIP DESIGN
System â€œ on â€œ a â€œchip (SoC) is a broad concept that refers to the integration of nearly all aspects of a system design on a single chip. These chips are often mixed-signal and/or mixed-technology designs, including such diverse combinations as embedded DRAM, high â€œ performance and low-power logic, analog, RF, programmable platforms (software, FPGAs, Flash, etc.).
SoC designs are often driven by the ever-growing demand for increased system functionality and compactness at minimum cost, power consumption, and time to market. These designs form the basis for numerous novel electronic applications in the near future, in areas such as wired and wireless multimedia communications including high speed internet applications, medical applications including remote surgery, automated drug delivery, and non invasive internal scanning and diagnosis, aircraft/automobile control and safety, fully automated industrial control systems, chemical and biological hazard detection, and home security and entertainment systems, to name a few.
There are several challenges to effective SoC designs:
1. Large scale integration of functionalities and disparate technologies on a single chip dramatically increases the chip area, which necessitates the use of numerous long global wires. These wires can lead to unacceptable signal transmission delays and increase the power consumption by increasing the total capacitance that needs to be driven by the gates.
2. Integration of disparate technologies such as embedded DRAM, logic, and passive components in SoC applications introduces significant complexity in materials and process integration.
3. The noise generated by the interference between different embedded circuit blocks containing digital and analog circuits becomes a challenging problem.
4. Although SoC designs typically reduce the number of I/O pins compared to a system assembled on a printed circuit board(PCB), several high performance SoC designs involve very high I/O pin counts , which can increase the cost per chip
5. Integration of mixed technologies on a single die requires novel design methodologies and tools ,with design productivity being a key requirement.
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