It’s About Time


What do you do when work doesn’t leave a moment to spare? You take a break to gain a new perspective. So in early June, my daughter and I ventured to Cancun for the sole purpose of finding a bit of escape. Perhaps the sunshine, snorkeling, hiking, and history of this part of Mexico would offer the perfect place to refuel. Little did we know that the hurricane season had begun.

After a four-hour bus ride, we arrived at Chichen Itza to see the ancient pyramids in the jungle rain. It was amazing. When you see the carvings in stone and masks of Mayans, the serious eyes, slope from high forehead to nose without much of an indentation, and then look at those selling hand-carved masks along the pathways, it’s often the same face. The pyramid itself is a calendar piece with mathematical proportions of 365 steps, arranged for the sun to shine at angles as a sundial in shadows. There were 50,000 Mayans living in the Yucatan at one time. Their organization and knowledge for their time period is remarkable.

What’s happening in our industry can be disconcerting. SEMI has predicted that world fabs are forecasted to hit bottom in 2008, the return to strong profitability and growth in 2009. In many companies a downsizing trend has begun. Many of the SATS providers and OEMs have begun to rethink strategies for pursuing market-share expansion while concentrating more on competitive positioning and financial performance.

Some positive results are in evidence too. Rather than lose a competitive edge or miss out on the positive benefits of new technology, many packaging companies are forming consortia. For the first time in history, the overall capacity of volume fabs producing 300-mm wafers has surpassed those producing 200-mm wafers. That should result in lower cost flip chips and packages. Professors at U.S. colleges talk about the cooperative industry/university projects that continue to spark innovative ideas.

There’s no doubt that all things change over time. From a pyramid-size clock, we’re down to a wrist watch or Blackberry. And in business, time is money; a factor in measuring productivity, delivery time, and new product introduction time. In 3D packaging, the fourth dimension ??? time ??? is important as well. By densifying interconnection, we’re simply shortening the time taken to deliver the required function. You can stack it using wires and flip chips; you can deliver in lead frames or chip scale packages; or you can stack wafers and interconnect them with through silicon vias (TSVs). With 3D packaging, you can cut the time the signal takes to deliver the end function.

As we drove through the jungle in Chichen Itza, we noticed a crumbling home complete with a pig in the yard and a new car in a garage without walls. My first thought was, “That car is packed with the latest in embedded electronics with microprocessors, MEMS, sensors, and LEDs. Soon it will carry 3D packaging .” Knowledge passes down through time. After three days of jungle rain, the sunshine took over and enlightened everything.

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Gail Flower