Samsung claims first in stacked memory

Seoul, South Korea –Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. said that it has developed the first all-DRAM stacked memory package using ‘through silicon via’ (TSV) technology, which will soon result in memory packages that are faster, smaller and consume less power.

The new wafer-level-processed stacked package (WSP) consists of four 512 megabit (Mb) DDR2 (second generation, double data rate) DRAM (dynamic random access memory) chips that offer a combined 2 gigabits (Gbs) of high density memory. Using the TSV-processed 2Gb DRAMs, Samsung said it can create a 4GB (gigabyte) DIMM (dual in-line memory module) based on advanced WSP technology for the first time. Samsung’s proprietary WSP technology not only reduces the overall package size, but also permits the chips to operate faster and use less power than current technology.

“The innovative TSV-based MCP (multi-chip package) stacking technology offers a next-generation packaging solution that will accommodate the ever-growing demand for smaller-sized, high-speed, high-density memory,” said Tae-Gyeong Chung, vice- president of the memory division of Samsung’s interconnect technology development team. “In addition, the performance advancements achieved by our WSP technology can be utilized in many diverse combinations of semiconductor packaging, such as system-in-package solutions that combine logic with memory.”

In today’s MCPs, memory chips are connected by wire bonding, requiring vertical spacing between dies that is tens of microns deep. That wire bonding process also requires horizontal spacing on the package board hundreds of microns wide for the die-connecting wires. By contrast, Samsung’s WSP technology forms laser-cut micron-sized holes that penetrate the silicon vertically to connect the memory circuits directly with a copper filling, eliminating the need for gaps of extra space and wires protruding beyond the sides of the dies. These advantages permit Samsung’s WSP to offer a significantly smaller footprint and thinner package.

Inside the new WSP, the TSV is housed within an aluminum pad to escape the performance-slow-down effect caused by the redistribution layer. Due to the complexity of DRAM stacking, this represented a much more difficult engineering feat than that accomplished with the first WSP, announced last year involving NAND flash dies.

There has been concern that MCPs with high-speed memory chips such as 1.6Gb/ps DDR3, would suffer from performance limitations when connected using current technologies. Samsung said its WSP technology resolves these concerns.

In addition, as the back side of the wafer is ground away to make a thinner stack of multiple dies, the wafer has had a tendency to curve, creating physical distortion in the die. To overcome this additional critical concern in designing low-profile, high-density MCPs containing DRAM circuitry, Samsung’s proprietary wafer-thinning technology, announced last year, has been applied to improve the thin-die-cutting process.

The news release gave no date on when the technology will be brought to market. It did say, however, that the stacked package design “will support next-generation computing systems in 2010 and beyond.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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