As 2D integrated circuit (IC) technology nears its scaling limit, there is a need to scale up vertically to cope with the breakneck pace of advances in digital technologies. However, the progress made by the digital components has not been matched by the advances in microelectronic components, which has resulted in hindrances such as memory wall. In this scenario, 3D IC technology’s ability to help create high-performing, low-power-consuming microchips is proving invaluable.
The rising relevance of the mega trends of Internet of Things (IoT) and miniaturisation has made 3D ICs integral to modern-day electronic devices, as they enable:
Future Opportunities for 3D Integrated Circuits is a recent analysis from Frost & Sullivan’s TechVision (Microelectronics) growth partnership service programme. The research covers major application areas for 3D ICs, including consumer electronics, ICT, automobiles, military, healthcare, aerospace, datacentres, gaming, biomedical devices, military equipment and wearable devices.
These capabilities have thrown open the application sectors of memory, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and sensors. They have also been a driving force in the emerging technologies of microfluidics and silicon photonics.
“3D ICs help shorten interconnect length as well as enhance signal speed while dissipating very little power,” noted Brinda Manivannan, TechVision Research Analyst, Frost & Sullivan. “The technological superiority of 3D ICs addresses the needs of the futuristic semiconductor industry by aiding in the development of high-density and multifunctional electronic components.”
While the advantages of 3D IC are many, manufacturers often have to overcome high development costs, technical limitations, wide prevalence of existing technologies and a highly unstructured supply chain. To combat these challenges, 3D IC companies have to find niche markets and streamline their supply chain horizontally to establish clear technological leadership.
“There has been significant interest among microelectronic companies all over the world in exploring 3D IC technology,” noted Manivannan. “Among regions, Asia-Pacific is witnessing the most heated R&D activity and among countries, the US is at the top of the R&D leaderboard, followed by China. While US R&D efforts are aimed at technology development, Asia-Pacific countries are mostly looking to scale the technology.”