Samsung 3D Chip Packaging and SAINT Technology
In a strategic move set to reshape the semiconductor landscape, Samsung Electronics is poised to launch its ‘3D packaging’ business next year. This innovative approach involves vertically stacking heterogeneous semiconductors, heralding a new era of high-performance and low-power artificial intelligence (AI) chips. As the demand for more advanced and efficient AI semiconductors intensifies, the market is projected to soar to a staggering $78 billion by 2028.
The Essence of 3D Chip Packaging
Unlike traditional horizontal chip placement, 3D Chip packaging involves stacking chips vertically. This configuration facilitates faster data processing between semiconductors and significantly enhances power efficiency. With customers increasingly seeking high-performance, low-power AI semiconductors, Samsung’s venture into 3D chip packaging comes at a pivotal moment.
SAINT Technology: Samsung’s Cutting-Edge Solution
Driving this initiative is the utilization of the cutting-edge semiconductor packaging innovation known as ‘SAINT’ (Samsung Advanced Interconnection Technology). This innovative process involves connecting different types of chips to operate cohesively as a single unit. In contrast to conventional horizontal placement, 3D packaging distinguishes itself by vertically stacking chips.
Samsung Electronics has successfully concluded the technical verification of ‘SAINT-S.’ This specific iteration involves the stacking of SRAM, serving as temporary data storage, on top of a processor, such as a central processing unit (CPU). Looking ahead, Samsung aims to finalize the technology verification of ‘SAINT-D’ in the upcoming year. ‘SAINT-D’ entails the placement of DRAM for data storage on top of processors, including CPU and graphics processing unit (GPU). Furthermore, ‘SAINT-L’ is in the pipeline, designed to position processors like the application processor (AP) both above and below the stack. These strategic advancements underline Samsung’s commitment to pioneering advancements in semiconductor technology.
Overcoming Technological Limitations
The move towards 3D packaging is fueled by the limitations of ultra-fine processing technology, which constrains the downsizing of individual chips. Semiconductor companies, including Samsung, are focusing on packaging as a critical process to improve performance by skillfully arranging and connecting manufactured chips. The importance of this packaging process is expected to escalate, with the high-tech packaging market forecasted to grow from $44.3 billion in the previous year to an impressive $78.6 billion by 2028, according to Yole Intelligence.
Competitive Landscape: TSMC, Intel, and More
Samsung is not alone in this pursuit, as competitors like TSMC, UMC, and Intel race to develop cutting-edge packaging technologies. TSMC, for instance, offers the ‘SoIC’ 3D packaging service, serving major players like Apple and Nvidia. Intel leverages ‘Foveros,’ its 3D packaging technology, for mass production of its latest chips. Taiwan’s UMC has also joined the 3D packaging arena through a collaboration project with Winbond and ASE.
Applications in On-Device AI
Samsung aims to utilize SAINT technology to enhance the performance of semiconductors catering to AI data centers and application processors for smartphones with on-device AI functions. The application of 3D packaging is particularly pertinent in the realm of cutting-edge semiconductors employed in generative AI and on-device AI, where optimizing data processing speed and power efficiency is paramount.
As the semiconductor industry undergoes a paradigm shift, advanced packaging technology emerges as a crucial metric of competitiveness. Samsung’s foray into 3D packaging is poised to be a game-changer, setting the stage for a dynamic future where the efficiency and performance of AI semiconductors are taken to unprecedented heights. The global market eagerly anticipates the next chapter in this technological evolution.