System Interconnection Design Trade-offs in Three-Dimensional (3-D) Integrated Circuits

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: Continued technology scaling together with the integration of disparate technologies in a single chip means that device performance continues to outstrip interconnect and packaging capabilities, and hence there exist many difficult engineering challenges, most notably in power management, noise isolation, and intra and inter-chip communication. Significant research effort spanning many decades has been expended on traditional VLSI integration technologies, encompassing process, circuit and architectural issues to tackle these problems. Recently however, three- dimensional (3-D) integration has emerged as a leading contender in the challenge to meet performance, heterogeneous integration, cost, and size demands through this decade and beyond. Through silicon via (TSV) based 3-D wafer-level integration is an emerging vertical interconnect methodology that is used to route the signal and power supply links through all chips in the stack vertically. Delay and signal integrity (SI) calculation for signal propagation through TSVs is a critical analysis step in the physical design of such systems. In order to reduce design time and mirror well established practices, it is desirable to carry this out in two stages, with the physical structures being modelled by parasitic parameters in equivalent circuits, and subsequent analysis of the equivalent circuits for the desired metric. This thesis addresses both these issues. Parasitic parameter extraction is carried out using a field solver to explore trends in typical technologies to gain an insight into the variation of resistive, capacitive and inductive parasitics including coupling effects. A set of novel closed-form equations are proposed for TSV parasitics in terms of physical dimensions and material properties, allowing the electrical modelling of TSV bundles without the need for computationally expensive field-solvers. Suitable equivalent circuits including capacitive and inductive coupling are derived, and comparisons with field solver provided values are used to show the accuracy of the proposed parasitic parameter models for the purpose of performance and SI analysis. The deep submicron era saw the interconnection delay rather than the gate delay become the major bottleneck in modern digital design. The nature of this problem in 3-D circuits is studied in detail in this thesis. The ubiquitous technique of repeater insertion for reducing propagation delay and signal degradation is examined for TSVs, and suitable strategies and analysis techniques are proposed. Further, a minimal power smart repeater suitable for global on-chip interconnects, which has the potential to reduce power consumption by as much as 20% with respect to a traditional inverter is proposed. A modeling and analysis methodology is also proposed, that makes the smart repeater easier to amalgamate in CAD flows at different levels of hierarchy from initial signal planning to detailed place and route when compared to alternatives proposed in the literature. Finally, the topic of system-level performance estimation for massively integrated systems is discussed. As designers are presented with an extra spatial dimension in 3-D integration, the complexity of the layout and the architectural trade-offs also increase. Therefore, to obtain a true improvement in performance, a very careful analysis using detailed models at different hierarchical levels is crucial. This thesis presents a cohesive analysis of the technological, cost, and performance trade-offs for digital and mixed-mode systems, outlining the choices available at different points in the design and their ramifications