Intel scientists tout new packaging technology

Oct. 8, 2001 – Santa Clara, CA – Intel Corp. researchers say they have

developed a new packaging technology that they assert will help the company build processors with more than 1 billion transistors that will be 10 times faster than the fastest processors today.

The “Bumpless Build-Up Layer” technology, or BBUL packaging, takes a completely different approach to packaging from the current practice of manufacturing the processor die separately and later bonding it to the package. Instead, BBUL “grows” the package around the silicon, resulting in thinner, high-performance processors that Intel says consume less power.

BBUL packaging eliminates use of solder bumps completely. Instead of attaching the silicon die to the package, the BBUL technique grows the package around the silicon. High-speed copper connections are used to connect the die to the different layers of the package. This approach reduces the thickness of the processor package and enables the processor to run at a lower voltage — both key features for small, battery-operated devices such as mobile PCs or handheld devices.

Intel believes it can begin making BBUL packaging available for commercial products in the next five to six years.

“In order to deliver the applications that could once only be considered science fiction, we will need to create processors that are much more powerful than those we have today,” said Gerald Marcyk, director of Intel’s Components Research Lab. “The development of BBUL technology will allow us to deliver the performance of billion-transistor processors to computers users. It is something that current packaging technology just can’t handle.”

The first step in building high-density, super-fast processors is the design of very fast, very small transistors. In June, Intel scientists unveiled what they claimed were the world’s fastest transistors, running at 1.5 Terahertz and featuring structures as thin as three atomic layers. The second step is the development of advanced lithography technology in order to print those transistors on a sliver of silicon.

Intel has been among leaders in the industry’s effort to develop Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, which will allow Intel to pack a billion transistors into a single processor. The third step is to develop a processor package that can handle the transistor density and speed of these future processors without slowing them down. This is the driving force behind BBUL technology research.

Using BBUL packaging, Intel could also create multi-chip processors, such as server processors with two silicon cores and other supporting silicon chips embedded into one small, high-performance package. BBUL packaging technology could also offer a simple method to develop a “system-on-a-package” through the use of high-speed copper lines directly located above the different pieces of silicon. This would allow designers to more easily embed powerful computers into such everyday objects as a car’s dashboard, Intel said.


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