Growth Markets for Advanced Packages


Summertime offers lots of opportunities to look at new markets, refocus on those in the past, and regroup in general. Four main areas are in the forefront for advanced packaging: automotive, medical, communications, and entertainment.

The automotive semiconductor market should grow at a healthy clip through 2009, according to Business Communication Company’s latest predictions. Car manufacturers use electronic systems for driver information and communication, in-car entertainment electronics, power train and body control electronics, as well as automotive safety and conveniences. By the end of this year, a total of one quarter of the value of an average car will comprise its electrical and electronics systems.

While traveling to visit subscribers and authors in the Southwest, I rented a car and thought about how many electronics systems we take for granted. The car came equipped with GPS, which provided logical modulated voice commands, visual maps with large print, and exact distance calculated between routes. Air bags armed with MEMS devices protected the driver and passengers from head-on or side injuries. Emission controls protect the environment. More systems than ever are moving from conventional mechanical systems to microcomputer controls. Entertainment systems for passengers use electronics for display, storage, and sound. Overall, the market represents more than $16 billion, rising at 9% through 2009.

The medical market has proven healthy for packaging. Using scopes as minimally invasive tools for optics, lasers, and surgeries has cut the cost as well as the risk of infection. In April, AMI Semiconductor (AMIS) agreed to deliver mixed-signal semiconductors for next-generation implantable defibrillators and pacemakers - a growth area for advanced packages. AMIS provides custom, low-power, mixed-signal ASICs to be used in Interventional Rhythm Management Inc.’s design for cardiac electrophysiology devices such as implantable defibrillators and pacemakers.

A bustling area for the packaging market is in communications and entertainment. While traveling by train in Europe, young students all seemed to have a microphone, as small as a hearing aid, hooked into one ear, listening to a MP3 player while reading a book and talking to their friends. Masters of multitasking, they represent the future. When we arrived at the conference, businessmen talked on cell phones, checked stock prices and the weather, and took pictures with the same small device. Lines between phone, PC, and entertainment devices have become fuzzy - with the one connecting factor being more usage of advanced miniature packages, flexible substrates, and embedded features.

Numbers relating to stock market prices or individual company earnings only give a small measure of growth, and these change from day to day. A better assessment can be gleaned from a diverse collection of sources.

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Gail Flower