With increased demands for computation and the slowdown of CMOS scaling, alternative methods for further miniaturization of electronics are gaining momentum. Heterogeneous integration (HI) of chips from various manufacturing lines on to a silicon interposer is a newly recognized approach, which has been used in a number of high-performance applications. However, these 3D-IC chip stacks are time-consuming to develop and are application-specific, resulting in prohibitive costs.
Similar cost issues have been addressed in the form of field programmable gate arrays. In an analogous fashion, programmable silicon interposers open new possibilities of design-reuse of silicon for multiple applications, resulting in cost savings and time to market advantages. Programmable re-use of silicon interposers also enables just-in-time manufacturing to simultaneously produce several smaller lots made with high-mix of components.
In addition, programmable silicon interposers for 3D stacking allow system-level control of functions that can be embedded in the interposer, such as power management, built in self-test, and manufacturing defect repair. Power management techniques previously applied to single chip solutions can be re-architected to achieve higher system level efficiency in these 3D chip stack. We will demonstrate one such system built with a smart, programmable silicon interposer from zGlue – the first commercial implementation of a product in this category. This technology will help proliferate internet of things (IoT) devices, give a broader array of choices to product designers, and will accelerate proliferation of electronics in ultra-small form factor for healthcare, industrial as well as consumer space.