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VLSI Technology

■ Scaling
■ Moore’s Law
■ 3D VLSI
The beginning
Microprocessors are essential to many of the
products we use every day such as TVs, cars, radios,
home appliances and of course, computers.
Transistors are the main components of
microprocessors.

At their most basic level, transistors may seem


simple. But their development actually required
many years of painstaking research. Before
transistors, computers relied on slow, inefficient
vacuum tubes and mechanical switches to process
information. In 1958, engineers managed to put two
transistors onto a Silicon crystal and create the first
integrated circuit, which subsequently led to the first
MOSFET
performance

Transistor Size Scaling improves as size is


decreased:
shorter switching
time, lower power
consumption.

2 orders of magnitude reduction in transistor size in


Significant Breakthroughs
Transistor size: Intel’s research labs have recently shown the world’s smallest
transistor, with a gate length of 15nm. We continue to build smaller and smaller
transistors that are faster and faster. We've reduced the size from 70 nanometer to 30
nanometer to 20 nanometer, and now to 15 nanometer gates.

Manufacturing process: A new manufacturing process called 130 nanometer


process technology (a nanometer is a billionth of a meter) allows Intel today to
manufacture chips with circuitry so small it would take almost 1,000 of these "wires"
placed side-by-side to equal the width of a human hair. This new 130-nanometer
process has 60nm gate-length transistors and six layers of copper interconnect. This
process is producing microprocessors today with millions of transistors and running
at multi-gigahertz clock speeds.

Wafer size: Wafers, which are round polished disks made of silicon, provide the base
on which chips are manufactured. Use a bigger wafer and you can reduce
manufacturing costs. Intel has begun using a 300 millimeter (about 12 inches)
diameter silicon wafer size, up from the previous wafer size of 200mm (about 8
inches).
Major Design Challenges
■ Microscopic issues ■ Macroscopic issues
– ultra-high speeds – time-to-market
– power dissipation and – design complexity (millions
of gates)
supply rail drop
– high levels of abstractions
– growing importance of
– design for test
interconnect
– reuse and IP, portability
– noise, crosstalk
– systems on a chip (SoC)
– reliability,
– tool interoperability
manufacturability
– clock distribution
Year Tech. Complexity Frequency Staff Size Staff Costs
1997 0.35 13 M Tr. 400 MHz 210 $90 M
1998 0.25 20 M Tr. 500 MHz 270 $120 M
1999 0.18 32 M Tr. 600 MHz 360 $160 M
2002 0.13 130 M Tr. 800 MHz 800 $360 M
Integrated Circuits
■ Digital logic is implemented using transistors in integrated circuits
containing many gates.
– small-scale integrated circuits (SSI) contain 10 gates or less
– medium-scale integrated circuits (MSI) contain 10-100 gates
– large-scale integrated circuits (LSI) contain up to 104 gates
– very large-scale integrated circuits (VLSI) contain >104 gates
■ Improvements in manufacturing lead to ever smaller transistors
allowing more per chip.
– >107 gates/chip now possible; doubles every 18 months or so
■ Variety of logic families
– TTL - transistor-transistor logic
– CMOS - complementary metal-oxide semiconductor
– ECL - emitter-coupled logic
– GaAs - gallium arsenide
What are shown on previous diagrams cover only the so called front‑end
processing ‑ fabrication steps that go towards forming the devices and
inter‑connections between these devices to produce the functioning IC's. The
end result are wafers each containing a regular array of the same IC chip or
die. The wafer then has to be tested and the chips diced up and the good chips
mounted and wire‑bonded in different types of IC package and tested again
before being shipped out.

From Howe, Sodini: Microelectronics:An


Integrated Approach, Prentice Hall
Moore’s Law
■ Gordon E. Moore - Chairman Emeritus of Intel Corporation
■ 1965 - observed trends in industry - # of transistors on ICs vs. release dates:
– Noticed number of transistors doubling with release of each new
IC generation
– release dates (separate generations) were all 18-24 months apart
■ Moore’s Law:
– The number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double
every 18 months
■ The level of integration of silicon technology as measured in terms of number
of devices per IC
■ This comes about in two ways – size reduction of the individual devices and
increase in the chip or dice size
■ As an indication of size reduction, it is interesting to note that feature size was
measured in mils (1/1000 inch, 1 mil = 25 mm) up to early 1970’s, whereas
now all features are measured in mm’s (1 mm = 10-6 m or 10-4 cm)
■ Semiconductor industry has followed this prediction with surprising accuracy
Moore’s Law
• In 1965, Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors that can be
integrated on a die would double every 18 to 14 months
• i.e., grow exponentially with time
• Amazing visionary – million transistor/chip barrier was crossed in the 1980’s.
– 2300 transistors, 1 MHz clock (Intel 4004) - 1971
– 42 Million, 2 GHz clock (Intel P4) - 2001
– 140 Million transistor (HP PA-8500)

Source: Intel web page (www.intel.com)


Moore’s Law
■ From Intel’s 4040 (2300 transistors) to Pentium II
(7,500,000 transistors) and beyond

Relative sizes of ICs in graph


Ever since the invention of integrated circuit, the smallest feature size has been
reducing every year. Currently (2002) the smallest feature size is about 0.13
micron. At the same time the number transistors per chip is increasing due to
feature size reduction and increase in chip area. Classic example is the case of
memory chips: Gordon Moore of Intel in early 1970s found that: “density” (bits per
chip) growing at the rate of four times in 3 to 4 years - often referred to as Moore’s
Law. In subsequent years, the pace slowed down a bit, data density has doubled
approximately every 18 months – current definition of Moore’s Law.
Limits of Moore’s Law?

■ Growth expected until 30 nm gate length (currently: 180 nm)


– size halved every 18 mos. - reached in
2001 + 1.5 log2((180/30)2) = 2009
– what then?
■ Paradigm shift needed in fabrication process
Technological Background of the
Moore’s Law
■ To accommodate this change, the size of the silicon
wafers on which the integrated circuits are fabricated
have also increased by a very significant factor – from
the 2 and 3 in diameter wafers to the 8 in (200 mm) and
12 in (300 mm) diameter wafers
■ The latest catch phrase in semiconductor technology (as
well as in other material science) is nanotechnology –
usually referring to GaAs devices based on quantum
mechanical phenomena
■ These devices have feature size (such as film thickness,
line width etc) measured in nanometres or 10-9 metres
Recurring Costs
cost of die + cost of die test + cost of packaging
variable cost =
----------------------------------------------------------------
final test yield
cost of wafer
cost of die = -----------------------------------
dies per wafer × die yield

diameter π × (wafer diameter/2)2 π × wafer


dies per wafer = ---------------------------------- −
---------------------------
die area √ 2 × die area

die yield = (1 + (defects per unit area × die area)/α )-α


Yield Example
 Example
● wafer size of 12 inches, die size of 2.5 cm2, 1 defects/cm2,
α = 3 (measure of manufacturing process complexity)
● 252 dies/wafer (remember, wafers round & dies square)
● die yield of 16%
● 252 x 16% = only 40 dies/wafer die yield !

 Die cost is strong function of die area


 proportional to the third or fourth power of the die area
Intel 4004 Microprocessor
Intel Pentium (IV) Microprocessor
Die Size Growth
Die size grows by 14% to satisfy Moore’s Law

100
Die size (mm)

P6
486 Pentium ® proc
10 386
286
8080 8086
8085 ~7% growth per year
8008
4004 ~2X growth in 10 years

1
1970 1980 1990 2000 2010
Year
Courtesy, Intel
Clock Frequency
Lead microprocessors frequency doubles every 2 years

10000

1000 2X every 2 years


Frequency (Mhz)

P6
100
Pentium ® proc
486
10 8085 386
8086 286

1 8080
8008
4004
0.1
1970 1980 1990 2000 2010
Year
Courtesy, Intel
Examples of Cost Metrics (1994)
Chip Metal Line Wafer Defects/c Area Dies/wa Yield Die
layers width cost m2 (mm2) fer cost
386DX 2 0.90 $900 1.0 43 360 71% $4
486DX2 3 0.80 $1200 1.0 81 181 54% $12
PowerPC 4 0.80 $1700 1.3 121 115 28% $53
601
HP PA 7100 3 0.80 $1300 1.0 196 66 27% $73

DEC Alpha 3 0.70 $1500 1.2 234 53 19% $149

Super 3 0.70 $1700 1.6 256 48 13% $272


SPARC
Pentium 3 0.80 $1500 1.5 296 40 9% $417
VLSI
■ Very Large Scale Integration
– design/manufacturing of extremely small, complex circuitry
using modified semiconductor material
– integrated circuit (IC) may contain millions of transistors,
each a few µ m in size
– applications wide ranging: most electronic logic devices
Origins of VLSI
■ Much development motivated by WWII need for improved
electronics, especially for radar
■ 1940 - Russell Ohl (Bell Laboratories) - first pn junction
■ 1948 - Shockley, Bardeen, Brattain (Bell Laboratories) -
first transistor
– 1956 Nobel Physics Prize
■ Late 1950s - purification of Si advances to acceptable
levels for use in electronics
■ 1958 - Seymour Cray (Control Data Corporation) - first
transistorized computer - CDC 1604
Origins of VLSI (Cont.)
■ 1959 - Jack St. Claire Kilby (Texas Instruments) - first
integrated circuit - 10 components on 9 mm2
■ 1959 - Robert Norton Noyce (founder, Fairchild
Semiconductor) - improved integrated circuit
■ 1968 - Noyce, Gordon E. Moore found Intel
■ 1971 - Ted Hoff (Intel) - first microprocessor (4004) - 2300
transistors on 9 mm2
■ Since then - continued improvement in technology has
allowed for increased performance as predicted by Moore’s
Law
Three Dimensional VLSI
■ The fabrication of a single integrated circuit whose functional
parts (transistors, etc) extend in three dimensions
■ The vertical orientation of several bare integrated circuits in a
single package
Advantages of 3D VLSI
■ Speed - the time required for a signal to travel between the functional circuit
blocks in a system (delay) reduced.
– Delay depends on resistance/capacitance of interconnections
– resistance proportional to interconnection length
Advantages of 3D VLSI
■ Noise - unwanted disturbances on a useful signal
– reflection noise (varying impedance along interconnect)
– crosstalk noise (interference between interconnects)
– electromagnetic interference (EMI) (caused by current in pins)
■ 3D chips
– fewer, shorter interconnects
– fewer pins
Advantages of 3D VLSI
■ Power consumption
– power used charging an interconnect capacitance
» P = fCV2
– power dissipated through resistive material
» P = V2/R
– capacitance/resistance proportional to length
– reduced interconnect lengths will reduce power
Advantages of 3D VLSI
■ Interconnect capacity (connectivity)
– more connections between chips
– increased functionality, ease of design
Advantages of 3D VLSI
■ Printed circuit board size/weight
– planar size of PCB reduced with negligible IC height increase
– weight reduction due to more circuitry per package/smaller PCBs
– estimated 40-50 times reduction in size/weight
3D VLSI - Challenges and Solutions
■ Challenge: Thermal management
– smaller packages
– increased circuit density
– increased power density
■ Solutions:
– circuit layout (design stage)
» high power sections uniformly distributed
– advancement in cooling techniques (heat pipes)
Influential Participants - Industry
■ Mitsubishi, TI, Intel, CTS Microelectronics, Hitachi, Irvine Sensors, others...
– high density memories
■ AT&T
– high density “multiprocessor”
■ Many other applications/participants
Three Dimensional VLSI
■ Moore’s Law approaching physical limit
■ Increased performance expected by market
■ Paradigm shift needed - 3D VLSI
many advantages over 2D VLSI

economic limitations of fabrication overhaul will be overcome by market demand

■ Three Dimensional VLSI may be the savior of Moore’s Law