In the News


Amkor Acquires Unitive

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CHANDLER, ARIZ. — Amkor Technology Inc. recently signed a deal to acquire Unitive Inc., a Research Triangle Park, N.C-based provider of wafer-level technology and services for flip chip and wafer-level packaging applications. The acquisition comes at a time when industry analysts expect the market for flip chip assembly to more than double from $3.5 billion in 2003 to nearly $8 billion in 2007.

"Unitive has long been recognized as one of the most advanced and innovative developers of advanced electroplating technologies in support of flip chip and wafer-level packaging solutions," says Bruce Freyman, Amkor's president and CEO. "We are very excited to add the strength and talent of the Unitive team to the Amkor team and believe this combination will prove attractive to customers."

Amkor also will obtain a 60% interest in Taiwan-based Unitive Semiconductor Taiwan Corp., a joint venture between Unitive and Taiwanese investors. Unitive's management teams in North Carolina and Taiwan will remain in place, and Amkor plans to continue offering wafer-level processing services through Unitive's facilities. The facilities in North Carolina will continue to focus on the development of advanced wafer-level packaging technologies and provide commercial-scale processing of early stage applications, in addition to domestic wafer-level packaging.

SEMI Book-to-bill Slips to 1.08 in June

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — North American-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $1.61 billion in orders in June 2004 and a book-to-bill ratio of 1.08, according to the June 2004 Express Report published by SEMI.

"Despite the premature negative commentary by some Wall Street analysts, the semiconductor equipment industry continues to maintain growth at high levels," says Stanley T. Myers, president and CEO of SEMI. "Total bookings remained strong throughout the second quarter and are at levels more than double that of one year ago."

The three-month average of worldwide bookings in June 2004 was $1.61 billion. This bookings figure is 3% above the revised May 2004 level of $1.56 and 123% above $722.3 million in orders posted in June 2003.

The three-month average of worldwide billings in June 2004 was $1.48 billion. This billings figure is 91% above the June 2003 billings level of $776.5 million.

NEMI Issues Recommendations for Lead-Free Part ID

HERNDON, VA. — The National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative's (NEMI) Component and Board Marking Project recently made recommendations for the identification of electronic components and board assemblies that have been modified for use in lead-free assembly processes. The team also identified standard vocabulary terms to help create common terminology related to lead-free processing.

The conversion to lead-free products poses challenges as companies deal with the logistics of handling both leaded and lead-free products for manufacturing, rework and field returns. Lead-free processing requires higher temperatures and tighter process windows, which necessitates segregation of leaded and lead-free parts. For the immediate future, manufacturing facilities will be running both leaded and lead-free processes, and rework facilities will be running both processes for an even longer time. It's important for manufacturers to identify lead-free parts and keep them segregated to ensure compliance.

"To prevent manufacturing errors and defects, the assembly shop floor and recyclers need to identify the materials contained in the solders used in the bill of materials (BOM) and the board assembly process," says Vivek Gupta, program manager of Lead-Halogen Free Development at Intel Corp. and chair of NEMI's Component and Board Marking Project.

The NEMI team provided input and supported the development of JEDEC Standard JESD97: Marking, Symbols, and Labels for Identification of Lead Free Assemblies, Components, and Devices, which was released earlier this year. NEMI considers the identification model in this standard comprehensive enough to meet the needs of manufacturing. In addition to the guidelines outlined in the JEDEC standard, NEMI is recommending the use of unique part numbers for lead-free materials, components and boards to distinguish them from tin-lead (SnPb) versions.

"Manufacturers' part numbers are critical data elements used to keep track of bill of materials and products during manufacturing, inventory and order fulfillment," says Alan Ater, supply chain manager for Sanmina-SCI Corporation, and co-chair of the Component and Board Marking Project. "Unique part numbers for lead-free BOMs will help minimize the chances of mixing tin-lead and lead-free parts."

The Component and Board Marking Project's recommendations are available on NEMI's website: ese/Component_BoardMarking.html.

Chip Sales Continue to Rise, SIA Says

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — Worldwide sales of semiconductors rose to $17.32 billion in May, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). This is a sequential increase of 2.1% from the $16.97 billion reported in April, and a 36.9% increase from May 2003. SIA reports that the boost is normal for May, which traditionally is one of the stronger months for semiconductor sales.

"Worldwide sales of microchips followed historic patterns in May, normally a strong month for the industry," explains SIA President George Scalise. "At 17.32 billion, global semiconductor sales reached their highest level since 2000 — reflecting continued healthy economic growth, especially in the U.S. and China. The industry fundamentals continue to look good, leading us to expect strong growth through the remainder of 2004. Customers appear to be managing their inventories prudently, even in the face of supply-demand constraints."

Overall factory utilization continued to increase, says SIA, rising from 92% in the fourth quarter of 2003 to 94% in the first quarter of 2004. For leading-edge manufacturers (defined as facilities capable of producing geometries of 0.16 µm and smaller, capacity utilization rates currently are at 99%.

While most product segments continued to reflect seasonal strength, demand for microchips used in wireless communications — digital signal processors, optoelectronics devices and ASSPs — was especially strong, reflecting robust sales of cell phones with enhanced display, imaging and data capabilities.

Semiconductor sales rose in all regions, except Europe. The strongest growth came from the Asia-Pacific region, which grew 4.5% sequentially.

SEMI to Host NanoForum in November

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AUSTIN, TEXAS — SEMI is expanding its reach by holding NanoForum 2004, its first international conference for business leaders and technical experts in nanotechnology and the semiconductor equipment, materials and services industry. The conference will be held November 14-17 at the Austin Hilton Hotel. The focus will be on bringing applications to market, featuring speakers from more than 30 companies, from well-known semiconductor manufacturers and suppliers to nanotechnology start-ups.

Emphasizing the theme that nanotechnology is no longer restricted to the laboratory and many commercially viable products and materials exist, just about every conceivable market will be covered, including defense, information technology, biotechnology, medical, automotive, telecom and consumer.

Four keynote speakers have been selected, representing an impressive range of experience: George Atkinson, science and technology advisor to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell; Dr. Mark Pinto, senior VP of Applied Materials' New Business and New Products Group; Larry Bock, co-founder and executive chairman of Nanosys Inc.; and Dr. Robert Doering, senior fellow and technology strategy manager at Texas Instruments.

The conference features some nanotechnology companies with a practical approach, focusing on manufacturability and technology that can be used today. Nanosys, Inc. produces nanodots, nanorods and nanowires made from transition-metal oxide materials that can be manufactured with precisely controlled and repeatable chemical, physical and mechanical properties. The nanostructures are designed to be compatible with conventional semiconductor processing currently used in the microprocessor industry. In an effort to improve product quality and consistency, Zyvex recently announced a Supply Chain Certification Program for carbon nanotube suppliers and is in the process of certifying vendors, the first of which is SouthWest NanoTechnologies Inc.

For attendees from the semiconductor industry who may be new to nanotechnology, the conference will start with a full-day tutorial on the fundamentals of nanotechnology presented by professors from the University of Texas and including information on both materials and processes.

NanoForum 2004 looks like a great opportunity for semiconductor and nanotechnology professionals to meet and discover how their industries can work together. A workshop to be held after the formal technical sessions is designed to provide an open forum to discuss the information presented during the conference and how to move forward with new applications.

'Banner Year' Predicted for MEMS in 2004

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — While the first half of last year wasn't terribly promising for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) suppliers, high-tech market research firm In-Stat MDR reports that business improved in Q4 2003, remains strong in 2004 and is on target for a banner year.

"Venture capital funding in the first half of 2004 alone already has exceeded that provided in all of 2003," says Marlene Bourne, In-stat/MDR senior analyst. "Customer activity has increased significantly, existing MEMS devices continue to find new applications and new MEMS devices continue to make strong inroads into the market. Even better, increased publicity about the sector and its customers continue to generate increased awareness of the products and their solutions."

Among the key findings of In-Stat/MDR's report, Step by Step to Success: 2004 MEMS Industry Overview and Forecast:

  • Year-over-year unit shipments rose 8.2% from 2002 to 2003, with revenues increasing 35.7%.
  • Microfluidic devices accounted for nearly 50% of total unit shipments and 1/3 of total revenues.
  • The top 20 suppliers of MEMS devices accounted for 86.7% of revenues.
  • Newcomers to this space outpaced start-up closures at a ratio of more than 12:1.

NIST Standards to Improve Measurements of Microdevices

GAITHERSBURG, MD. — Researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), along with their colleagues at several companies, are completing experiments that validate new standards aimed at improving emerging microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices. NIST scientists presented their findings at the semiconductor industry's recent SEMICON West trade show.

Working with ASTM International, NIST has developed three new standards intended to help researchers measure more accurately several characteristics of materials used to construct MEMS devices. With more accurate measurements of microsystem materials, designers and manufacturers hope to improve the design and performance of these devices. Laboratories measuring the properties of similar device materials currently produce widely varying results.

Each new standard is a set of procedures for measuring dimensions or a particular materials property. One standard advances the "in-plane length" measurement of a microsystem, or its length in one dimension, typically from 25 to 1,000 µm. A second standard improves measurement of "residual strain," or the strain the parts of a microsystem undergo before they relax after the removal of the stiff oxides that surround them during manufacturing. The final standard aims to improve measurement of the "strain gradient," which determines the maximum distance that a MEMS component can be suspended in air before it begins to bend or curl.

Six companies have been collaborating with NIST on a "round robin" experiment to validate the MEMS standards. The standards are expected to significantly reduce variations in measurements between laboratories.

SMTA to Host Emerging Technologies Summit

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — The 2004 SMTA International Conference will feature an emerging technologies summit on September 27 at the Donald Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. Consisting of three paper sessions and a concluding panel discussion, this summit will address the latest trends in electronics manufacturing and assembly.

The first session, "MEMS Technology Trends and Reliability," will feature papers on qualification and reliability for MEMS and IC packages, hybrid RF MEMS circuit packaging and methodology for prognosis of electronics and MEMS packaging.

The second session, "Emerging IC and 3-D Packaging," will include papers on camera module packaging technology, sub-100-nm silicon and development of 3-D redistribution and balling technologies.

The last session, "New Materials and Processes," will share papers on injection-molded packages, joining technology with low melting solders, jet dispensing underfills for stacked die applications and low-cost air cavity LCP packaging.

For further details, please visit www.

ASAT Opens Japan Office

PLEASANTON, CALIF. — ASAT Holdings Ltd. has opened a new sales office in Tokyo, Japan to increase support for its existing Japanese customers and to pursue new business.

"The increased interest by Japanese semiconductor manufacturers in our China facility more than justifies ASAT's expansion our of Japan selling effort," explains Jay Nunez, ASAT's senior vice president of worldwide sales. "Providing greater support to ASAT's expanding customer base in Japan is critical to our strategic objectives in the region."

Satoru Kobayaski, ASAT's general manager of Japan, will run the new office.

Tessera Raises Guidance

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — Tessera Technologies Inc. has raised its financial guidance for the full year 2004. The company is expecting total revenues of up to $65 million and a net income of up to $27.5 million.

"The increased guidance is due to a payment of $6 million that we received from Samsung Electronics for royalties relating to past production of some of the package types involved in an ongoing dispute between our companies," explains Tessera's CFO Doug Norby.

The payment will be reflected in Tessera's third quarter revenue and net income, after applicable taxes.

ASE Celebrates 20th Year

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. — Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE) recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary in the packaging and testing industry.

"ASE has grown exponentially over the past 20 years, from our first manufacturing facility located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, to more than 10 strategic manufacturing locations and numerous sales support offices worldwide," says Jason Chang, chairman of the ASE Group. "We are proud to celebrate our achievements and we attribute our success to the loyalty of our customers and the dedication of our employees."

This year, the company expanded its manufacturing capacity to include state-of-the-art facilities in Japan, China and Taiwan. The company also continues to ramp up its substrate manufacturing capabilities.

"We will continue to provide customers with value-added products and services, as well as maintain a high standard in our manufacturing locations over the next 20 years," says Tien Wu, president of ASE Americas, Europe and Japan."


In the June issue of Advanced Packaging, the "Next-generation of Packaging Materials" article by Rao Tummala, P. Markondeya and Venky Sundaram contains an error on p. 27. Please note that in Figure 3 the two vertical dimensions marked as "5 m" and "10 m" should read 5 µm and 10 µm, respectively.