IBM and 3M have announced their intention today to join forces in order to develop “the first adhesives that can be used to package semi-conductors into densely stacked silicon ‘towers’”.
This could mean that processors could run up to 1000 times faster than today’s chips and enable smartphones, tablets and gaming devices to become incredibly powerful.
Potentially, the work could overtake current attempts at chip stacking, known as “3D packaging” as it “tackles some of the thorniest technical issues underlying the industry’s move to true 3D chip forms”.
It is thought that new adhesives will conduct heat more efficiently, so that chips which are densely packed together can use them in order to direct heat away from sensitive components.
The two companies are intending to create a new class of materials which may make it possible to stack microprocessors in “layers of up to 100 separate chips.”
“Today’s chips, including those containing ‘3D’ transistors, are in fact 2D chips that are still very flat structures,” said Bernard Meyerson, VP of Research, IBM.
“Our scientists are aiming to develop materials that will allow us to package tremendous amounts of computing power into a new form factor – a silicon ‘skyscraper.’”
“We believe we can advance the state-of-art in packaging, and create a new class of semiconductors that offer more speed and capabilities while they keep power usage low - key requirements for many manufacturers, especially for makers of tablets and smartphones.”
Researchers say that many types of semiconductors can only use bonds that can be applied to individual chips. 3M and IBM plan to develop a glue that can be applied to silicon wafers.
It is expected that IBM will concentrate on creating and packaging processors, whilst 3M will provide the knowledge that they possess on the development and manufacture of adhesives.
“Capitalizing on our joint know-how and industry experience, 3M looks forward to working alongside IBM – a leader in developing pioneering packaging for next-generation semiconductors,” said Herve Gindre, division vice president at 3M Electronics Markets Materials Division.
“3M has worked with IBM for many years and this brings our relationship to a new level. We are very excited to be an integral part of the movement to build such revolutionary 3D packaging.”
3M develop adhesives for a number of industries including electronic devices and aerospace programmes.
It’s exciting news for the technology industry, and if the two companies prove to be successful in their endeavours, devices could be undergoing a true revolution in speed within a few years.