SiP and SoC - Part 1
Thanks for your comments on my recent blog post regarding advanced packaging technologies relative to emerging memory technologies. One point of view accurately described technical issues that still remain for advanced packaging technologies. Another perspective called attention to the fact that the upcoming International Interconnect Technology Conference has added a session focused on interconnection solutions for alternative memory technologies. There is clearly a lot of work to be done to broaden the base of advanced packaging technologies, and other sites and blogs are closely following that progress.
My interests in the advanced packaging technologies is the ability of those technologies to serve as a convenient market entry platform for new memory technologies. My limited watch list includes the Tezzaron/SVTC alliance (particularly in light of the impressive membership on SVTC’s recently announced advisory board), the IBM/Soitec joint effort, RTI’s work under several government sponsored programs, IMEC, Taiwan’s ITRI, and TSV foundry service providers austriamicrosystems and Allvia. This list is limited by my own mental bandwidth and prior experiences, so please feel free to identify any other companies that I failed to recognize.
The point of comparison for me relative to memory technologies is not just the packaging technologies, but also the two related technologies of SoC and SiP. Wikipedia discusses SoC as the integration of all elements “…of a computer or other electronic system into a single integrated circuit. Many interesting systems are too complex to fit on just one chip…built with a process optimized for just one of the system’s tasks. When it is not feasible to construct an SoC for a particular application, an alternative is a system in package (SiP) comprising a number of chips in a single package. In large volumes, SoC is believed to be more cost effective than SiP since it increases the yield of the fabrication and because its packaging is simpler.. Wikipeda continues the definition: “The term SoC is typically used with more powerful processors, capable of running software such as Windows or Linux, which need external memory chips (flash, RAM) to be useful.” (My underscore)
The issue relative to the introduction of new memory technologies in these two applications is the granularity and performance of that external memory. If the memory requirements are large, then the cost-per-bit of the memory is likely to become a factor and an SoC may be the best solution. If the memory requirements are smaller and the emphasis is on performance or if the OEM needs to maintain greater architectural flexibility, therein lies the entry opportunity for high performance non-volatile memory technologies that can be included into configurations “…comprising a number of chips in a single package.”
From the memory perspective, it doesn’t matter if the package technology is SiP, TSV, or other forms of 3D packaging technologies. What does matter is that the application is not a traditional PC-like architecture wherein the memory plays a secondary role in the value proposition of the application.
Here we have advanced packaging technologies and emerging memory technologies both going down the same path hoping to find their own raison d’etre in the next killer application that is “too complex to fit on just one chip built with a process optimized for just one of the system’s tasks.. What better place for emerging memory technologies to look for market entry points than in applications already evaluating advanced packaging solutions.
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