Catching Up with Moore’s Law: Are Industry Consortia the Key?


Greetings from the Constitution State. For my first contribution to this publication - since developments in new packaging technology have failed to keep pace with Moore’s Law - I chose to consider industry consortia’s role in accelerating the rate of advancement in device packaging. A consortium is an association of two or more individuals, companies, organizations, or governments (or any combination of these entities) participating in a common activity or pooling their resources to achieve a common goal.

As a part of a materials company, and therefore a so-called supply chain company, I am amazed by the proliferation of opportunities to spend our development budgets through membership in, and support of, industry consortia. The cost of membership is fairly clear. There is a fee to become part of the center or working group (after plowing through pages of agreements on IP rights and other issues), and then there is time spent preparing for and traveling to/from meetings, and participating in sessions - but what about the return?

Experience teaches us that we only get out of things what we put into them, and it seems that industry consortia are no different. Sure, a breakthrough by one of the university faculty members and students being supported might happen, and hopefully the IP rights are such that your company will be able to leverage the development into at least a temporary marketplace advantage. However, unless someone from your company is engaged who understands how new developments can be used or otherwise capitalized upon, such a breakthrough may go by without you extracting its rewards.

The return from participation in industry consortia comes from the deeper insight you and your company gain so technologies can be advanced to the next level in a way that is economically and commercially useful. Deep insight doesn’t come from occasional engagement at an update meeting, but rather from making the consortium a part of your business and technology development strategy. This level of engagement increases costs further, but is necessary to participate in a meaningful way.

The ultimate value of industry consortia comes from integration of all member companies’ strategies so that true concurrent development can be achieved. Ideally, the activities of the consortium will provide for the overlaying of various companies’ roadmaps in the supply chain, shortening total development time over sequential methods, and allowing larger-scale breakthroughs to happen. Due to the importance of interactions between design, fabrication methods, material capabilities, and performance
eliability requirements, it seems that the type of collaboration available through industry consortia may be the only way for packaging technologies to play catch-up with Moore’s Law of advancement in semiconductors.

So, do you want to be part of a consortium now? There are certainly many from which to choose. There are almost as many consortium options as there are ways to build a package. The website for the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center at Binghamton University lists a directory of 65 universities active in electronics packaging. Thirty-seven of these have listed at least one formalized industry consortium effort, and there appear to be new ones forming all the time. I will carefully refrain from making any recommendations for, or against, any of the available choices. I do suggest you not try to join too many. Not only will it drain your budget and staff, but it is also highly unlikely that you will be able to engage the consortium at the level required to gain real returns.

The decision for choosing a consortium that is right for you is best made by examining which has themes that are consistent with your company’s business strategy, contain other engaged member companies whose strategies are important to the execution of yours, and allow you to truly develop new technologies and business opportunities in an interactive, concurrent development environment.

I wish you all the best in making the industry consortia decisions that will most contribute to the advancement of packaging technology. Most likely I will see some of you at an upcoming consortium meeting where we can trade thoughts on our experiences. Otherwise, drop me a line if you have something you would like to share on this topic, or other subjects in the world of advanced packaging.

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DIRK M. BAARS, director, advanced materials group, may be contacted at Rogers Corporation, 1 Technology Dr., Rogers CT; 860/779-4772; E-mail: