Insights From Leading Edge

Monthly Archives: June 2018

IFTLE 388 2018 ECTC Part 3 TSMC & Samsung – Flexing their Muscle at ECTC

By Dr. Phil Garrou, Contributing Editor

General Observation

Sometimes, not always but sometimes, you can see a trend coming. When it comes to Adv Pkging, between 1995 and 2005 you could see the baton pass from the OEMS to the Assembly Houses (OSATS) as the papers we were all waiting for from IBM, NEC, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Toshiba, TI, Motorola, AT&T  started coming from Amkor, ASE, SPIL and StatsChipPac. IFTLE thinks we are in process of another baton pass from the assembly houses to the foundries and then maybe to the “newcomers”.

This ECTC saw TSMC and Samsung, usually minimal contributions or totally quiet participants, flexing their technical muscle and saying “see what we can do”. We also saw lots more attendance from the rich newcomers like Apple, Google and Amazon who are lurking and listening but not saying much of anything yet. IFTLE thinks this is not a one time occurrence, but rather the first signs of a broad baton pass where the front end players, who have seen that there are tech advances and monies to be made in the latest packaging solutions,  begin to take over the leading edge.

TSMC’s InFO has been a hot item for awhile now since it was incorporated into the Apple phone. The key breakthrough was the ability to planarize the surface and achieve 2um L/S (TSMC’s Doug Yu tells IFTLE this is grinding not CMP cause CMP would cost too much). At ECTC they told audiences they have broken the 1um barrier. Further, rumors were circulating that TSMC had been showing modules with high density interconnect approaching 0.5um L/S.

Another rumor making the rounds was that AMD was working with TSMC to directly bond SRAM stacks to CPUs…that’s right not 2.5D but full 3D mode. No substantiation on this one yet, but it sure is exciting to anticipate!

Let’s take a look at a few of the key papers by what I think will be the next generation giants in packaging. This week, we will look at several papers from TSMC. Next week, we will look at Samsung.


In the TSMC presentation High Performance, High Density RDL for Adv Packaging, the authors discussed how silicon interposer technology is limited to high-end applications due to its high fabrication cost and how fan-out wafer level packages with multi-layers high density RDL routings are emerging as a lower cost alternative to the 2.5D/3D silicon interposer in networking applications. They showed Table I to compare fine pitch, high density, advanced RDL technologies, namely BEOL, embedded Cu trace, and semi-additive process (SAP).

SAP has long been a main stream technology to form copper trace of packages in IC packaging applications. However, issues of degrading adhesion strength between copper line and dielectrics film and copper trace  undercut due to seed metal etching lead to reliability concerns as the L/S scales down to 3μm/3μm . Recently embedded Cu trace technology using UV laser to form fine pitch Cu traces was applied to organic substrates for lower cost considerations. Comparing with SAP technology, the embedded Cu trace technology not only provides a better adhesion between Cu trace and dielectrics material but also eliminates undercut and sidewall etching issues, which may worsen the transmission line loss at a high frequency.

They fabricated two layer Cu dual damascene RDLs as shown in the process below:

To validate the reliability integrity of two-layers embedded Cu dual damascene RDLs, they conducted the following tests: Thermal cycles (-65C ~ 150 C) 500 cycles, and unbiased HAST (130 C / 85% RH @33.5 PSI) 96 hours.

They successfully demonstrated a fine pitch, two-layers embedded Cu dual damascene RDLs with stacked vias on a 300 mm wafer using a single lithography dielectrics film. Each RDL layer composes of a sub-5 μm microvias and a 2μm/1μm line/ space escape routing using a Cu dual damascene process. The key aspects of the embedded Cu dual damascene RDLs such as structure, fabrication process steps, integration challenges, TV design and fabrication comparisons, reliability, R, C, and electrical transmission loss at high frequency were examined. We believe the Cu dual damascene RDL has the high potential to enable high density, high performance advanced packaging in future HPC and edge computing applications.

In their paper A Novel Submicron Polymer Re-distribution Layer Technology for Advanced InFO Packaging, TSMC addressed sub micron interconnect on their InFO packaging called InFO UHD (Ultra-High-Density).

TSMC offered that for multi-chip design architectures the key feature is to develop a high density route-ability technology across dies, which becomes an almost essential characteristic to serve this purpose. To achieve this, we need dimensional scalability of line-width and corresponding via size for  die-to-die interconnects to be deployed for more communications between chips. The fig below shows assessments as some examples of die-to die route-ability versus inter-chip RDL line-width (L) and RDL spacing (S). It is evident that miniaturization of these two RDL parameters do provide opportunities for more die-to-die communication paths on one interconnect layer if packaging products require, but it also implies less interconnect layers, which directly mean more cost competitiveness.

Another important factor is the area of the chip occupied by I/O pads The fig below shows the smaller and tighter pitch the better.

Some comments on the new technology include:

– It is preferable to manufacture with packaging-industry available tool sets instead of Cu/low-k in BEOL tools, to ensure competitiveness in cost to other techniques in current commercial market. Accordingly, for this technology, Cu RDL and Cu via are deployed by PVD barrier/seed with following electro-plating process, plus sufficient process support from etching, ash, and lithography to realize the designed fine line dimensional

architecture consisted of two RDL layers at least. All tool sets have been selected from current commercially available processing and metrological tools.

They demonstrated this technology with two-layer RDL of 0.8/0.8um L/S , and 1.5um vias.


When looking ahead to even finer dimensions for inter-chip packaging interconnect TSMC sees possible materials changes in areas such as RDL dielectric materials, molding materials, and lithographic photoresist materials. Low processing temp dielectric are suggested. Testing and metrology tools would also have to be upgraded to measure parameters with more accuracy.


In their paper Board level Reliability Investigation of FO-WLP Package TSMCexamines the effect of underfill on board level reliability.


A 15×15 mm2 package size InFO_PoP (fig below) was used as the test vehicle which consists of daisy chain test chip processed by 16nm wafer fabrication technology and three Cu RDL layers.

FO-WLP such as InFO has been rapidly adopted due to its excellent electrical performance due to its very short package level interconnection and its low cost. Since it exists as a very thin package without a package substrate to act as a stress buffer between the IC chip and system board, board level reliability performance of FO-WLP becomes challenge as products moving to large die size.

Thus board level underfill (UF) has been implemented in their Surface Mount assembly process (SMT) to prevent mechanical stress induced solder ball and redistribution layer (RDL) damage.  In general, the UF will help to reduce the mechanical stress to impact solder joint reliability. However, due to less sophistication of SMT UF process compared with FC UF process, special attention and optimization must be performed on such board level devices. Conditions are proposed to minimize reliability risk.

For all the latest on Advanced Packaging, stay inked to IFTLE…

IFTLE 387 Broadcom Looks to Advanced Packaging; Rumors from ECTC San Diego

By Dr. Phil Garrou, Contributing Editor

Boon Chye Ooi , Sr VP of Operations for Broadcom spoke at the IEEE ECTC luncheon addressing “Packaging advancements to enable artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous cars and wearables in the near future: cost and implications to supply chains.”

Broadcom’s Sam Karikalan, ECTC General Chair introduces Boon Chye Ooi , Sr VP of Operations for Broadcom

Ooi leads the global operations organization which is responsible for worldwide manufacturing including foundry and package engineering, outsourcing, procurement and logistics, planning and quality programs. Ooi indicated that he saw packaging as having played a vital role in enabling semiconductors to penetrate new application frontiers such as artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous cars and wearables, but for their ubiquitous deployment, the packaging community must make these technologies cost competitive and multi sourced.

He had 3 questions for the supply chain:

  1. Is the OSAT/Foundry willing to invest fab like yield tools?
  2. Will there be sufficient capacity and reliability of supply?
  3. How will cost excursions and miss-processing be handled by the infrastructure?

His call to action for the supply chain of 2022 included the following points:

  • Upgrade assembly yield management to Fab level
  • Develop u-bump probe and test technologies for improved yield
  • Develop substrates for low loss mm wave channels on large packages
  • Develop low cost thermal solutions to reduce system cost
  • Develop multiple suppliers for silicon content, packaging raw material, substrate and assembly

Specific technical challenges included the following:

  Desired Goal Issues
Data rate 112 Gbps · channel insertion loss and return loss

· crosstalk

· power integrity

Package Body size > 90 x 90mm · package warpage

· board level reliability

· socket cost and performance penalty

2.5D Integration More and larger dies · interposer reticle size

· assembly challenges

· more memory bandwidth

u-bump pitch < 30um · assembly challenges

· routing challenges


Power dissipation >500W · thermal interface materials

· heatsink solutions


Rumors from San Diego

With 1750 attendees present there were sure to be numerous rumors making the rounds at ECTC. In time some will clearly turn out to be true and some will not, but all of them are certainly interesting enough to consider.

One rumor I can confirm is that Rao Tummala, unquestioned “Father of Microelectronics Packaging”  will be retiring imminently. Tummala, now in his mid 70’s, has informed Ga Tech and his PRC that a successor should be located. He will be helping his replacement for a few years to ensure a smooth transition but he is looking forward to relaxing, spending more family time and playing more golf. It certainly will be interesting to see who Ga Tech finds to fill his shoes.

As I have detailed several times in IFTLE, BT (before Tummala) packaging was an after thought carried out by failed front end engineers. In 1989 Tummala, while still at IBM, joined Gene Rymaszewski editing the first Microelectronic Packaging Handbook categorizing this technology for the first time. In 1993 Tummala left IBM to set up an NSF PRC (packaging research enter) at Georgia Tech to explore and develop packaging concepts and, just as importantly, educate highly-interdisciplinary students in this concept. This NSF funding was supplemented by more than 50 U.S. companies and the State of Georgia. 20 new faculty were recruited with expertise in every electronics area. The 1st of a kind cleanroom pilot line for package, assembly and reliability was built at a cost of $47M. In the intervening years more than 400 PhD, 470 MS and 340 BS engineers all specializing in packaging have graduated from this program and populated the electronics companies around the world. In 1997 the Packaging handbook was rewritten in 3 volumes and more than 2000 pages. The chapter author list is a who’s who in the field of packaging. I am proud to have been part of that endeavor. Below is a photo we took in Slovenia together 21 years ago in 1997.

In 2001, Rao produced what I consider the first undergrad / grad packaging text “Fundamentals of Microsystem Packaging,” which has been used to teach electronics packaging in many of our universities. He and I co-wrote the chapter on wafer level packaging, a new concept at that time. My point in reciting all this is to simply backup my statement that these will be very large shoes to fill. It will be interesting to see who will fill them.

For all the latest in Advanced Packaging, stay linked to IFTLE…


IFTLE 386 IEEE EPS Awards at 2018 ECTC

By Dr. Phil Garrou, Contributing Editor

Memorial Day in the US means the start of the IEEE ECTC meeting, which is run by the IEEE EPS society (Electronic Packaging Society). This years 68th meeting was in San Diego and broke all records with an attendance of > 1750. There were 369 presentations in 36 oral sessions (6 in parallel) with authors from 28 countries.

The exhibition has been at capacity for several years with 106 exhibitors and reportedly 40+ on a wait list. IFTLE concludes that eventually this meeting must move to convention centers because it is becoming too large for hotel spaces available.

In this first blog on 2018 ECTC we will look at the EPS 2018 award winners.

The IEEE EPS Field Award

As we have discussed in the past the major packaging award in the world is the EPS “Field Award” meaning the top award in the “field.” This year’s winner is Bill Chen from ASE. The photo below shows IEEE President Jose Moura giving the award to Bill.

Dr. Bill Chen accepts EPS Field Award

Bill received his engineering education at University of London (B.Sc), Brown University (M.Sc) and Cornell University (PhD).  He joined IBM Corporation at Endicott New York in 1963. At  IBM  he  worked  in  a  broad  range  of  IBM microelectronic packaging products. He received IBM Division President Award for his leadership and innovation in Predictive Modelling on IBM products.    He was elected to the IBM Academy of Technology for his contributions to IBM Products and Packaging Technologies. He retired from IBM in 1997.  He joined the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) in Singapore, as Director of the Institute till 2001 when he joined ASE Group, where he holds the position of ASE Fellow and Senior Technical Advisor with responsibilities for guidance to technology strategic directions for ASE Group.

He is Senior Past President of the IEEE/CPMT Society. He is the Co-Chair of the ITRS Assembly and Packaging Roadmap Technical Working Group. He is a Fellow of IEEE and Fellow of ASME.  He has served as an Associate Editor  of ASME Journal of Electronic Packaging, and IEEE/CPMT Transactions.

EPS Electronics Manufacturing Technology Award

The 2018 IEEE EPS Electronics Manufacturing Technology Award was given to Douglas Yu of TSMC for “contributions to the development and high volume manufacturing of interposers and wafer level fan out packaging”. Dr. Yu received his B.S. degree in Physics and M.S. degree in Materials Science and Engineering both from National Tsing Hua University, and his Ph.D. in Materials Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Yu was appointed TSMC’s Vice President in November 2016. Dr. Yu joined TSMC in 1994. He was previously Senior Director of the Integrated Interconnect & Packaging Division, where he led the development of interconnect technology for integrated circuits. Below we see Dr. Yu (L) accepting his award from EPS President Avi Bar Cohen.

Doug Yu receives Electronic Manuf Award

The IEEE EPS Outstanding Sustained Technical Achievement Award went to Professor Pradeep Lall of Auburn for “outstanding sustained contributions to the design reliability and prognostics for harsh environment electronic systems”.

The IEEE EPS Exception Technical Achievement Award went to three practitioners in the 2.5/3D technical space: Prof Mohannad Bakir of Georgia Tech; Prof Kuan-Neng Chen of National Chiao Tung Univ in Taiwan and Dr Katsuyuki Sukama of IBM.

All the awards were for “contributions to 2.5 and 3D IC heterogeneous integration, with focus on interconnect technologies.”

The IEEE EPS David Feldman Outstanding Contribution award went to EPS past president Jean Trewhella for “20 years of leadership consistently driving change collaboration and engagement in EPS and ECTC, including driving our society name change, sponsoring the heterogenous Integration roadmap and establishing the ECTC student reception.”

Newly elected Fellows included:

Kuan-Neng Chen – National Chiao Tung Univ , Taiwan
Klaus-Dieter Lang – Fraunhoffer IZM, Germany
Jinmin Qu – Northwestern Univ
Guo-Quan Lu – VPI
Saibal Mukhopadhyay – Georgia Tech
Stefan Grivet-Talocia – Politecnico de Turino, Italy

…and while we are talking awards.

Corning Presents First Annual ‘Corning Leadership in Glass Award’ at ECTC 2018

At the ECTC, Corning presented the first annual “Corning Leadership in Glass Award” to Proff Rao Tummala and his group at Ga Tech. The award recognized the technical paper “Design and Demonstration of Highly Miniaturized, Low Cost Panel-Level Glass Package for MEMS Sensors,” submitted by Georgia Tech at ECTC 2017 that best demonstrated the viability of glass for semiconductor packaging applications.

“We’re pleased to accept this very special award from Corning,” said Tummala. “We have long believed that the properties and fabrication of ultra-thin glass make it the best next generation material of choice for semiconductor and system package integration manufacturing processes after metal-based packaging since 1970s, ceramics since 1980s, organic laminates since 1990s and silicon since 2010. We’re proud that the research we’ve done in glass panel packaging in both chip-first and chip-last architectures, is gaining more and more acceptance.” Because of this special and unique nature of glass packaging, we converted our whole Center to glass packaging for high-bandwidth computing, 5G communications, power, mems and sensors and others.”

Dr. Venky Sundaram, Chintan Buch (student), and Prof. Rao Tummala (left to right) accept the inaugural ‘Corning Leadership in Glass Award’ at ECTC 2018.

For all the latest on advanced packaging, stay linked to IFTLE…

IFTLE 385 Samsung’s Semiconductor Focused Activities

By Dr. Phil Garrou, Contributing Editor

Let’s take a look at Samsung’s System LSI activities per their recent Investor program. ICs and applications that were highlighted are shown below.

Chronological advances in the Exnos microprocessor which are now being manufactured at 10nm are shown below.

Samsung has maintained a position as supplier of mobile processors, image sensors and display driver ICs. Looking into the future Samsung sees the main application drivers as:

Samsung System LSI is a provider of integrated total solution for mobile. They feel that innovations in semiconductor technologies will be the key driver in various new applications that adopts AI/Deep Learning, 5G networking, and smart mobility. Samsung LSI is now on the path to be a key player for 5G and autonomous mobility, and is investing for future device intelligence.

This will require a lot of advanced packaging!

For all the latest in advanced packaging, stay linked to IFTLE…