Looking Forward


In the month of December, as one year nears its close, I begin to think about where the world of advanced packaging has been and will go. First, there’s the big picture. The Book-to-Bill finally gained ground to over 1.0 and stayed high. Semico’s Inflection Point Indicator (IPI), a forecast indicator for semiconductor sales designed to make predictions 8 to 9 months in advance, points to robust growth in the February to March 2006 time frame. Our natural optimism in electronics has returned.

Tradeshows flourished this year, considering Productronica in Munich, NEPCON Shanghai, SEMICON West in San Francisco, CA, and IMAPS International in Philadelphia, PA. Anaheim, CA-based APEX should follow the same path, if all goes as planned in February. Advanced Packaging has been asked to prepare a packaging panel for SEMICON Europa, to be held April 4-6, 2006, in Munich, so if you plan on attending and would like to participate, please give us a call.

Recovery and growth are evident everywhere. ASE’s Chungli, Taiwan factory caught fire in May 2005, yet the company recovered and reported a 10 to 15% increase in sales. The Office of Electronics Miniaturization, University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), is setting up a high-technology R&D pilot production and commercialization plant. Tessera Inc. is licensing and transferring chip scale technology there and partnering with UAF on advanced electronics packaging. Soon, this Alaskan university will be able to fabricate Tessera’s microBGA chip scale packaging. Honeywell’s Electronic Materials business will expand the Asia/Pacific capabilities to include 300-mm physical vapor deposition sputtering targets. SiliconPipe and Nano Cluster Devices Inc. have agreed to develop novel conducting structures for use in high-speed semiconductor packaging and metallic-based interconnects. Kulicke & Soffa Industries Inc. must be pleased with their recent order for 580 new wire bonders from SPIL, a SATS provider. Companies supplying materials to our industry - Honeywell, 3M, and DuPont - have solutions and innovations that serve future growth and expansion.

Constant innovation in the IC industry, coupled with a growing demand for high-performance electronic devices, is driving the uptake of novel design platforms such as structured application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). In addition, the inability of existing technologies, such as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and standard ASICs to meet the requirements of mid-volume (more than 10,000 units) applications, is further bolstering demand for structured ASICs.

Advanced Packaging gives monthly, web-based seminars - recently, we moderated Methodologies and Techniques for Modeling Today’s Complex High-speed IC Package Designs, sponsored by Optimal and Cadence to an actively participating audience. As innovative packages are designed, the need for services in the design arena increases. The “alphabet soup” of new packaging points toward growth in this area.

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All in all, I am thankful for the exciting opportunities that await us.

Gail Flower