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Chipworks reveals 3D memory

04 February 2005 | By Syanne Olson | News > Wafer Processing

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Chipworks Inc. announced at SEMICON Japan it is analyzing what is on record as being the world's first product implementation of 3D memory. Mattel recently entered the children's portable video player with the Juice Box. "The Mattel Juice Box uses a proprietary flash memory card format so that they can sell video content such as cartoons and skateboarding shows. What makes this product so interesting is that it is the first implementation of 3D memory and was developed by start-up company Matrix Semiconductor" said Gary Tomkins, manager of process analysis for Chipworks.

The initial media devices are now available in 16 and 32 M-bit format with 64Mb also in production. According to Matrix Semiconductor over 1 million media cartridges have already been produced in less than four months. Tomkins stated that the device was fabricated by TSMC using a specially developed 0.15 μm process for Matrix Semiconductor. It features a unique 3D matrix structure consisting of polysilicon nodes containing an oxide antifuse and PIN diode structure to create a ROM type memory function.

Matrix Semiconductor claim that by constructing multiple layers of memory on a silicon die, Matrix's 3D chips require a much smaller die area for a given density than existing technologies, resulting in significant cost-per-bit savings. It is anticipated that this technology may replace conventional mask ROM technology and possibly other non-volatile memory technologies as well.

According to Tomkins, "over the past decade people have been predicting the end of Moore's law. Many times the prognosis has been premature, but there is no doubt that the technological challenges to maintain the steady advance predicted by Moore's law are growing significantly. With commercial viability of ever shrinking circuits now in question, what comes beyond Moore's law?

Changes to exotic compounds, and even organic computers have been discussed, but perhaps the most likely scenario is to build circuitry using a 3rd dimension; building components vertically from the substrate above the normal active layers. Modern DRAM's already do this to some degree, but a new type of memory from start-up Matrix Semiconductor is touted as the first truly 3D memory, as it potentially is scalable in all three dimensions. Is this the first peak into the future beyond Moore's Law?" asks Tomkins.

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