Tuesday, April 17th 2012

Abu Dhabi and Saxony to Host Twin Semiconductor Research Labs

The Advanced Technology Investment Company and the state of Saxony, Germany, today announced the establishment of two research labs working in tandem on areas of interest to the semiconductor industry. The 'Twin Labs' project will be backed by the Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC) and Saxony, which have each pledged US$2.4 million towards the plan over two years. Masdar Institute of Science and Technology will host the Abu Dhabi research center, while Technische Universität Dresden will oversee development of the Saxony lab.

Both sites will be of similar size, initially staffed with 10-12 graduate/Ph.D. students. Additional faculty members will be engaged at a later stage after the centers have established initial successes. Research will focus primarily on three-dimensional chip stacking, a potentially faster and more energy efficient semiconductor technology that follows ATIC's broader emphasis on minimum electronic energy systems, or MEES.

"Dresden, Saxony has become the largest microelectronics hub in Europe, and we are pleased to strengthen our collaboration in driving the semiconductor industry forward," said Ibrahim Ajami, CEO of ATIC. "This working partnership is particularly significant as we work to establish Abu Dhabi as a global R&D hub. The areas of research Twin Labs will be addressing are promising and timely to the industry, and I am confident the intellectual property generated will be of great value to ATIC, GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Abu Dhabi."

Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, President of Masdar Institute, said: "The Twin Labs project will provide substantial benefits to Abu Dhabi in terms of human and intellectual capital development. The cooperation between Masdar Institute and TU-Dresden will produce highly educated manpower ready to directly contribute the Abu Dhabi's growing Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) workforce. The cooperation will also provide a strategic connection between Saxony and Abu Dhabi –both regions that have aligned their interests to achieve regional competitive advantage through establishment of robust semiconductor industries."

The landmark agreement comes on the heels of a 2010 memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between Abu Dhabi and Saxony to facilitate a strong working partnership. The Twin Labs concept was conceived by the R&D working group established under the MOU, jointly chaired by Sami Issa, Executive Director leading the Abu Dhabi Technology Ecosystem Unit at ATIC and Prof. Gerhard Fettweis, Professor and Vodafone Chair at TU-Dresden.

Gerhard Fettweis of TU Dresden said: "Microelectronics is the driving force behind a myriad of innovations pushing the economy and society, with 3D integration of chip stacks expected to be the next fundamental innovation push for microelectronics. So, Twin Labs has the chance to heavily impact the local industry and support its sustainable technology leadership in microelectronics."

On the Abu Dhabi side, the group "Three-Dimensional Integrated Microelectronics for Minimum Energy Design" will be led by Dr. Abe Elfadel, Professor of Microsystems Engineering at Masdar Institute. It will explore and illustrate the minimum-energy/low-power features of 3D-integrated microelectronics in a variety of computing, communication, storage and sensing design contexts.

On the Saxon side, the Twin Labs group led by Professor Gerhard Fettweis will be known as "ESF Young Investigators Group 3D Chip Stack Intra-connects," nicely complementing the research work being conducted at Masdar Institute. The research will focus on the interconnect aspects of 3D integration, especially the crucial role of TSV in the back-end-of-the-line structure of 3D-stacked chips. The goal is to develop modules (design blocks) for high-rate interfaces between multiple chips in a semiconductor chip-stack.
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