The need for modern workloads in the latest innovations such as artificial intelligence, smartphones, cloud computing, autonomous vehicles, and other applications has brought system design as well as 3D stacking and advanced packaging technologies to the forefront. To embrace a more holistic approach for optimization at the system level and lead the industry in fulfilling this need, we introduced TSMC 3DFabric™ technologies in 2020, which have been greatly adopted by key industry players for their innovations, including the world’s first TSMC-SoIC® based CPU built by AMD, Amazon Web Services’ Trainium product currently being developed with the Amazon Annapurna Labs team, and high-performance GPU products from NVIDIA among many others.
As a result of the success customers have already had with 3DFabric technologies, it was only natural that we announced the TSMC Open Innovation Platform® (OIP) 3DFabric Alliance to accelerate 3D IC ecosystem innovation and readiness even further at the TSMC 2022 Open Innovation Platform Ecosystem Forum.
TSMC 3DFabric™ Alliance
How the 3DFabric Alliance Fits into OIP
Our collaboration with ecosystem partners began with the first reference flow we jointly developed 21 years ago. In 2008, we launched OIP with our ecosystem partners to help customers overcome the rising challenges of semiconductor design complexity by creating a new paradigm of collaboration, organizing development and optimization across TSMC’s technologies, electronic design automation (EDA), IP, and design methodology. As a natural expansion of the TSMC OIP, this 3DFabric Alliance is helping to promise a whole new level of power, performance, area, and functionality by joining collaborative efforts with ecosystem partners on system-level, 3D IC design enablement. It follows the same OIP work model to drive new extensive ecosystem collaborations that enable next-generation HPC and mobile applications with TSMC’s 3DFabric technologies. This addition further strengthens the TSMC OIP, which is the industry’s most comprehensive ecosystem and now consists of 16 EDA partners, six Cloud partners, 37 IP partners, 23 Design Center Alliance (DCA) partners, eight Value Chain Alliance (VCA) partners, and 19 3DFabric Alliance partners.
It’s no secret that requirements for 3D stacking and advanced packaging are becoming increasingly more complicated as designers work to integrate multiple chips, components, and materials to create an advanced electronic system. That’s where TSMC’s partners come in with a wide range of expertise in the ecosystem to work with TSMC, jointly helping to develop these complex systems from the design to the testing phase. By creating the 3DFabric Alliance, TSMC aims to accelerate 3DFabric ecosystem innovation and readiness, lower the barrier for 3DFabric technologies adoption and production, and lead the industry in system design by integrating advanced logic with 3DFabric technology, manufacturing, design, and testing.
The Founding of 3DFabric Alliance Partners
The formation of this new alliance further cements relationships with current and new OIP partners while addressing immediate customer needs and providing a set of forward-looking enhancements and solutions for our mutual customers’ innovative 3D IC system designs in a variety of applications and fields. We’ve categorized our partners as follows: EDA, IP, DCA/VCA, Memory, OSAT (Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Test), Substrate, and Testing.
As with every OIP alliance, we build symbiotic relationships with all our partners to benefit both parties along with our mutual customers. While we ask that every partner dedicate the time and energy to work with the TSMC engineering team to jointly develop and validate their products, technical solutions, and services on TSMC 3DFabric™ technologies, they also benefit by enjoying early access to TSMC technology which allows them to better serve mutual customers. For instance, EDA partners will have early access to 3DFabric technologies so that they can develop and enhance EDA tools and design flows to enable 3D IC designs more efficiently. Our IP partners will be able to develop 3D IC IPs compliant with die-to-die interface standards and 3DFabric technologies. Next, our DCA/VCA partners will align their roadmap with TSMC’s to better their capabilities for 3DFabric design, IP integration, and production.
Because shortening the time to market for the new HBM generations is critical for our Memory partners, early engagement with TSMC will help them define specs earlier and allow for better alignment overall. For our OSAT partners, involvement in the alliance will result in continuous improvements in all aspects of technology and production enablement and support. On the other hand, substrate partners’ relationship with TSMC will improve material quality, reliability, and time to integration to speed up the production of customers’ 3D IC designs. Finally, testing partners’ early collaboration with TSMC will allow for comprehensive coverage of reliability and quality requirements through jointly developed test and stress methodologies.
Establishing the New 3Dblox™ Standard
The cherry on top of our 3DFabric Alliance announcement is the closely related 3Dblox™ standard, a new language that will help make designing 3D ICs much easier for customers. We created 3Dblox™ alongside our EDA partners such as Ansys, Cadence, Siemens, and Synopsys to unify the design ecosystem with qualified EDA tools and flows for TSMC 3DFabric technology.
Before 3Dblox™, each EDA vendor used its own preferred language. In fact, each vendor used different languages for physical design tools and electrical analysis tools. The end customers needed to find a way to translate between many different languages for each EDA vendor they used, a complication they could not afford in the already complex 3D IC design process. The modularized TSMC 3Dblox™ standard is designed to model, in one format, the key physical stacking and the logical connectivity information in 3D IC designs. It can be used for every aspect of 3D IC design, including physical implementation, timing verification, physical verification, electro-migration IR drop (EMIR) analysis, thermal analysis, and more. Overall, 3Dblox can greatly simplify 3D IC design entry with a full context view of both physical and logical connectivity and significantly improve the cross-tool interoperability.
TSMC Continues to Lead the Semiconductor Industry in 3D IC Design
Ultimately, the extensive ecosystem collaboration of OIP will help technology companies fully realize the benefits of 3D IC design and deploy system-level innovation that will change the way we live. From HPC applications to smartphones that require much higher performance but less power consumption, 3D IC products will make our lives faster, easier, and more interesting.
By simplifying the complex design process required by 3D IC technology along with streamlining the IP, substrate, testing, and memory components, TSMC is opening the door for a wide variety of customers to innovate in this burgeoning new space in the semiconductor industry. There’s no telling what innovations we’ll see from the higher bandwidth, lower power consumption, and flexibility from heterogeneous integration that 3DFabric technology has to offer.
To learn more about the 3DFabric Alliance, please visit