3M and IBM want to build silicon towers

3M and IBM have kicked off a joint effort to develop the first adhesives capable of packaging semiconductors into densely stacked silicon “towers.”

The two industry heavyweights hope to create a new class of materials, which will make it possible to build commercial microprocessors composed of layers of up to 100 separate chips.

Processors could then be tightly packed with memory and networking into a “brick” of silicon that would create a computer chip 1,000 times faster than today’s speediest microprocessor. 

“Today’s chips, including those containing ‘3D’ transistors, are in fact 2D chips that are still very flat structures. 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,’” explained IBM exec Bernard Meyerson.

“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.”

Meyerson added that the glue would eventually be capable conducting heat away from the silicon package and will be used to coat hundreds or even thousands of chips at a single time.