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3D SoC Technology Overview

Key Takeaways

  • 3D System on Chip (SoC) technology offers a more efficient solution by vertically stacking components, reducing the memory bottleneck and improving performance

  • Exploiting the backside of integrated wafers in 3D SoC design allows for additional functionalities, signal routing, and power delivery.

  • 3D SoCs provide additional advantages such as enhanced performance, space efficiency, and energy efficiency.

3D SoC

3D SoCs allow for faster, more efficient chip production.

As technology advances at an unprecedented pace, the demand for smaller, faster, and more efficient electronic devices continues to grow. To meet these demands, engineers and researchers have embarked on a quest to revolutionize chip design, leading to the emergence of 3D System on Chip (SoC) technology. 

3D System on Chip (SoC) refers to an innovative approach in chip design that involves vertically stacking multiple layers of components, such as processors, memory, and input/output interfaces, onto a single chip. Unlike traditional 2D SoC designs, which rely on placing components side by side, 3D SoC offers a more compact and efficient solution by exploiting the vertical dimension.

Benefits of 3D System on Chip (SoC) Technology



Enhanced Performance

By vertically stacking components, 3D SoCs reduce distance, enabling faster data transfer and improved overall performance.

Space Efficiency

Vertical integration in 3D SoCs reduces the chip's footprint, allowing for smaller devices with maintained functionality.

Energy Efficiency

Proximity of components in 3D SoCs reduces power consumption, improving thermal efficiency and signal integrity.

Reduction of Memory Bottleneck

3D SoC integration minimizes memory access time and dynamic power consumption, addressing the "memory bottleneck."

Exploitation of Wafer Backside

Unused wafer backside in 3D SoC design allows for additional component integration, signal routing, and power delivery.

Why Are 3D SoCs Important ?

Electronic systems deployed today require advanced processing capabilities, but their performance is hindered by the time and power needed to access system memory, commonly known as the "memory bottleneck." To achieve significant improvements in electronic system performance, it is crucial to drastically reduce memory access time and overall dynamic power consumption. 

In data-intensive high-performance systems, such as those used for advanced computation, data servers, or deep-learning applications, the challenge of accessing data quickly, known as the memory wall, can be overcome through 3D SOC integration. Using a monolithic three-dimensional system-on-chip (SoC) stack enables more compact integration of memory and logic. 

By stacking memory and logic vertically within the same chip, 3D SoC technology enables faster and more efficient data transfer, minimizing the time and power consumption associated with accessing system memory. This heterogeneous integration approach partitions the system into separate chips that are concurrently designed and interconnected in the third dimension. Another technique further discussed below involves exploiting the backside of one of the integrated wafers for power delivery, signal routing, or both, allowing for improved performance gains.

3D SoC Design and Technology 

The development of an efficient 3D SoC stack necessitates widening the buses for memory by employing finer pitch interconnects. Simultaneously, the resistor-capacitor (RC) delays must be minimized by utilizing shorter interconnect lines within the SoC. These measures contribute to optimizing the performance and functionality of the 3D SoC design.

In order to achieve the objectives of integrating logic, memory, and input/output (I/O) functionalities on a single die, the 3DSoC design  focuses on the development of both fabrication technology and the accompanying design flows. This comprehensive approach aims to harness the full capabilities of the technology and drive advancements in 3D SoC implementation.

The combination of EDA tools and 3D process technologies plays a critical role in realizing the benefits of 3D SoC integration. EDA tools facilitate the design and optimization of complex 3D chip architectures, while 3D process technologies enable the fabrication of vertically stacked components within the same chip.

Wafer Backside in 3D SoC Design

One crucial advancement of 3D SoC design is the exploitation of the wafer backside. In conventional 2D designs, the backside of the wafer is typically left unused. However, in 3D SoC, this unused space becomes an opportunity for integrating additional components.

In a partitioning strategy for high-performance 3D-SOC systems, some or all memory macros could be placed in the top die, while the logic components are placed in the bottom die. This configuration can be achieved by bonding the active frontside of the 'logic wafer' to the active frontside of the 'memory wafer' using a low-temperature wafer-to-wafer bonding technique. As a result, the original backsides of both wafers is then situated on the exterior of the 3D-SoC system. 

The unused backside of these wafers can be utilized for signal routing or even directly powering the transistors in the 'logic wafer.' A notable difference in this 3D-SOC approach is the inclusion of a dummy wafer, which is bonded to the target wafer to enable backside wafer thinning and metallization processes. 

3D SoC Advantages

  • Enhanced Performance: By stacking components vertically, 3D SoCs significantly reduce the distance between them, enabling faster data transfer and minimizing latency. This translates into improved overall performance, making 3D SoCs ideal for applications that require high-speed computing, such as gaming and artificial intelligence.

  • Space Efficiency: The vertical integration of components in 3D SoCs allows for a substantial reduction in the chip's footprint. As a result, manufacturers can design smaller devices while still maintaining the same or even higher levels of functionality.

  • Energy Efficiency: 3D SoCs offer enhanced power management capabilities by allowing components to be placed closer to each other. This proximity reduces power consumption by minimizing the distance over which electrical signals need to travel, allowing for improved thermal efficiency and higher signal integrity. Consequently, electronic devices utilizing 3D SoCs can achieve improved battery life and optimized energy efficiency.

Say goodbye to memory bottlenecks, slow data transfer, and limited functionality. It's time to embrace the future of chip design with Cadence AWR software and unlock the true power of 3D SoC technology. This powerful tool empowers engineers and researchers to optimize their designs, maximizing performance and functionality.

Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. To learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts or subscribe to our YouTube channel.