TSV: Getting a Better Grip on Stacking DRAM

Posted on 07/28/2015 by

Jim Elliott

You hear a lot of talk today about three-dimensional flash memory and how it is extending the life of NAND flash, but you probably haven’t heard as much about an equally innovative approach to refining the way that DRAM is produced.

The bonding technology, which Samsung first developed, goes by the unflattering name of “through silicon via,” or TSV, but it sure packs a wallop in ingenuity.  TSV is a highly efficient approach to stacking DRAM chip dies together.  Volume production of 3D TSV modules followed our initial production of 3D Vertical NAND (V-NAND) flash memory in late 2013.   While V-NAND technology creates high-rise vertical structures of cell arrays inside a monolithic die, 3D TSV makes its new-age stacking name by vertically interconnecting stacked dies.

The TSV production process vertically interconnects dies in a manner that is nothing less than fascinating.   To build a 3D TSV DRAM package, the DDR4 dies are ground down as thin as a few dozen micrometers, and then pierced with hundreds of fine holes. They are then connected by laser-like electrodes that pass through the holes.

We’ve applied our TSV technology to our most advanced DRAM – 20nm-class 64GB DDR4. TSV-based RDIMMs have been in production since the fourth quarter of 2014.  Each module contains 36 DDR4 DRAM chips, and each of those consists of four 4-gigabit (Gb) DDR4 DRAM dies. Eight-gigabit versions are also entering production.

Samsung has customers qualifying this solution in different regions globally.  Interest will continue to grow as we expand our economies of scale across multiple applications and at higher densities.

Our 64GB TSV modules perform much faster than 64GB modules that use wire bonding packaging, while consuming a boatload less power. Specifically they deliver:

  1. A 20% decrease in power consumption over traditional DIMMs
  2. 25% speed increase over traditional DIMMs
  3. 2 to 4x increase in DRAM capacity

These modules provide the world’s most advanced, JEDEC-compliant, main memory for business analytics and other HPC applications including In-Memory databases such as SAP HANA for use in data-intensive markets such as OLTP, R&D, biotech, finance and oil/gas. TSV memory packaging is also expected to be a crucial component in much-discussed high-bandwidth memory (HBM) – a recently standardized, ultra-fast memory solution for IT network devices, next-generation processors and graphics accelerators.

Using TSV is helping us to peel the layers off of antiquated production methodologies to get to the epitome of efficiency at the core of memory manufacturing.   TSV is an amazing approach to putting together higher density modules – one that we’re happy to share with you and all of our forward-looking customers.

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