United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC), a leading global semiconductor foundry, has announced its initiation of the W2W (wafer-to-wafer) 3D IC project in partnership with Winbond, Faraday, ASE, and Cadence. The project aims to assist customers in boosting the production of their 3D products, specifically targeting edge AI applications.

The W2W 3D IC project addresses the growing demand for efficient computing at the device level as artificial intelligence expands from cloud to the edge. It focuses on mid-to-high range computing power, customizable memory modules, and low power consumption – essential requirements for edge AI applications such as home and industrial IoT, security, and smart infrastructure.

To deliver an end-to-end solution for integrating memory and processor with silicon stacking technology, UMC and its partners are working on various aspects of the project. UMC contributes its expertise in CMOS wafer manufacturing and wafer-to-wafer hybrid bonding technology. Winbond introduces its Customized Ultra-Bandwidth Elements (CUBE) architecture to empower powerful edge AI devices. Faraday offers comprehensive turnkey services for 3D advanced packaging, as well as memory IP and ASIC chiplet design services. ASE provides die sawing, packaging, and testing services while Cadence contributes wafer-to-wafer design flow, extraction with through-silicon vias (TSVs), and sign-off certification.

The project aims to resolve key challenges in heterogeneous integration, including aligning wafer stacking rules between logic and memory fabs, establishing an effective design flow for vertical wafer integration, and developing a proven package and testing path. It is expected that the platform will be ready for customers in 2024 following system-level verification.

G.C. Hung, Vice President of the Result Delivery Office and Research Development at UMC, expressed excitement about the project, highlighting the advantages of advanced hybrid bonding W2W technology. He stated that the project would enable customers to experience the performance gain, form factor reduction, and cost benefits of 3D IC. Hung also emphasized UMC's commitment to contributing its CMOS wafer manufacturing capabilities along with advanced packaging solutions to the development of a complete ecosystem.

Hsiang-Yun Fan, Vice President of Winbond, stressed the need for higher memory bandwidth in edge devices as AI expands beyond data centers. He mentioned that Winbond's customized DRAM, incorporated into 3D packages, would optimize edge AI performance.

In a similar vein, Flash Lin, COO of Faraday, expressed pride in participating in the 3D IC project. Lin remarked that the project builds on their existing collaboration with UMC and demonstrates their commitment to empowering customers through chip integration.

Dr. C.P. Hung, Vice President of R&D at ASE, emphasized the importance of collaboration in empowering customers to optimize efficiencies in semiconductor design and manufacturing. He noted that the project would enhance customer time-to-market and contribute to application excellence in the AI era.

Don Chan, Vice President of R&D in the Digital & Signoff Group at Cadence, highlighted the significance of 3D IC design and Cadence's role as the EDA partner in the project. He mentioned their commitment to enabling faster time-to-market designs for their customers through the Cadence Integrity 3D-IC Platform.

UMC is a global semiconductor foundry company that provides high-quality IC fabrication services, specializing in logic and various specialty technologies. The company's comprehensive IC processing technologies and manufacturing solutions cater to all major sectors of the electronics industry. UMC operates several fabs across Asia, with its core R&D and most of its 12-inch and 8-inch fabs located in Taiwan. The company has a total of 12 fabs in production, with a combined capacity of more than 880,000 wafers per month. UMC is headquartered in Hsinchu, Taiwan, and has offices in the United States, Europe, China, Japan, Korea, and Singapore, boasting a workforce of approximately 20,000 employees worldwide.