Winning, Losing, and Staying in the Game


There are few things that mark a person's character more than the way they accept defeat; unless, of course, it's the way they persist through each day and each challenge. Winning graciously reveals character too, but that's much easier.

In the electronics industry there are all sorts of contests — flip chip vs. wire bonding, SiP vs. SoP, clean vs. no-clean, photons vs. electrons, and SnAgCu vs. SnAgCuIn lead-free solder alloy replacements — just to look at some of the basic controversies. What approach a company takes often is determined by the elements of cost, time-to-market considerations, and perhaps by who is pushing what. It's difficult to be removed and dispassionate, always making a logical choice, or wisely sitting on the fence until someone else invests in a technology that fails and we can learn from their costly mistakes. The willingness to bet on one approach and be the first in an arena may result in the greatest profits.

F. Scott Fitzgerald is often quoted as saying, "The test of a first-class mind is the ability to hold opposing views at the same time and still retain the ability to function." However, in this industry, status quo isn't the place to be. Action makes the difference. Here are some new investments in technology that demonstrate what's on the forefront of innovation:

  • IBM's next-generation, lead-free semiconductor packaging technology known as C4NP (Controlled Collapse Chip Connection New Process), a flip chip process.
  • NEXX Systems' electro-deposition for under bump metallization in flip chips.
  • AIT's family of etched leadless packages (ELP) with increased density and reduced footprint, including the ELPF (etched leadless package flip chip) and ELGA (etched leadless grid array).
  • Kulicke & Soffa's licensed interconnect device.

The list of innovations keeps on growing. One of the best ways to predict which way the wind is blowing is to ask what the greatest challenges are, and then set your sail to take advantage of the expressed industry need. In next month's issue of Advanced Packaging, we'll publish your opinions about the greatest challenges facing the industry in 2005. Pay attention to this. Common themes are lower cost, higher pin counts, higher frequency applications, and increased densities leading to stacked die.

Tiger Woods considered floating away into retirement with his new bride aboard his yacht 'Privacy.' Why is he back on the golf course? "I miss competing; that's what I love to do," he said. As related to packaging, Joe Fjelstad, of SiliconPipe Inc., says, "Overcoming the inertia of the status quo requires substantial effort, because change of any sort is nearly always the bane of manufacturing."

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What change is happening at your company? Where are you winning, losing, or just fighting a good battle?

Gail Flower