The new rules for packaging strategies

by Bob Haavind, Editorial Director, Solid State Technology

A ConFab panel titled “Think Outside the Fab” chaired by James Doyle, VP, packaging and supply chain at IBM, explored the dramatic shifts that are reshaping packaging strategies at all chipmakers.

Doyle explained why the traditional approaches to chip packaging won’t work anymore, and detailed how future directions will replace the historical orthodoxy. Here are some examples:

– “Don’t get in the way” is moving toward packaging becoming an integral part of the design phase of IC development.

– “Make up for any delays earlier in the supply chain” is changing to greater capital investment and emphasis on bonding, assembly and test (BAT) steps.

– “Do it as inexpensively as possible” has shifted to greater recognition of how improved packaging solutions can add to customer value.

What are some of the drivers forcing these shifts in packaging strategy? Doyle identified a wide assortment of new requirements and changes forcing a higher profile for packaging factors. Legislation is forcing lead-free bonding, and there is a transition from ceramic to organic substrates. More products require flip-chip, and bump pitches are being reduced. Hotter chips are boosting thermal problems and testing requirements are being expanded. Intellectual property from multiple sources now goes onto the same silicon, and there are multiple sources for each portion of the supply chain (fab, wafer finishing, test, and assembly).

Collaboration across the entire supply chain, from fabs to customers, is the key to dealing with these increasing challenges, according to Doyle. This means that packaging, assembly, and test must increasingly work together and with fabs, and there must also be better integration with the end-customer. Cross-training of professionals at every level, for upstream and downstream partners, is needed to streamline customer solutions, he added. He also feels there must be a shift toward a horizontal (product/customer specific) model as opposed to the traditional vertical (process/function specific) operational structure. — B.H.


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