News from Germany

12 January 2016


Facing incredible times where the only constant is change

From the smallest personal items to the largest continents, everything everywhere will be digitally connected, and responsive to people’s wants and likes. The digital world as we know it today will seem simple and rudimentary in 10 years.

The one constant in electronics manufacturing is change. Moore’s Law which successfully predicted a rate of change at which transistor counts doubled on Integrated Circuits (IC’s) at lower cost for decades has started to slow down.  Rising costs for chip design from one node to the next are expected due to increased process complexity and number of lithography steps.  This presents opportunities for advanced 2.5D System in Package (SiP) integration where multiple chips of different functionalities can be integrated on an interposer.

Increasing demand for miniaturization in high performance electronic devices and strong penetration into the major market of the hand held consumer electronics sector will drive the SiP market.  Faster time-to-market, lower development costs, smaller form factors and heterogeneous integration are very attractive to the major packaging companies too.

This is both a challenge and an opportunity for manufacturers who are dealing with the demands of the packaging market for the near term, which is mainly driven by smart phones, tablets, wireless networks and wearables.  Automotive electronics is increasing significantly particularly in the use of Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) sensors for vehicle infotainment systems, safety and security, from electronic stability control to collision avoidance.

Integration of 2.5D SiP systems requires manufacturers to push the boundaries of their technologies way beyond industry roadmaps.  In order to avoid significant investments in completely new technologies manufacturers are pushing way past the current boundaries of the Semi Additive Process (SAP) which is the current “State of the Art” in IC Substrate manufacturing.  Line and Space (L/S) reduction and smaller microvias are required to meet the very challenging wiring densities required for chip to chip connections.  Smoother dielectrics, higher modulus materials with low warpage and new processes are required to meet these targets where sub 5µm L/S is essential to meet the wiring density for the packaging needs.

There will be a significant increase in the rate of change in the electronics industry as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a reality.

In this paper we will examine the effect of the these market trends on the electronics industry, what options manufacturers are exploring to allow them to compete in this brave new world and look at the way the world may change, hopefully for the better.

The driving forces for the market continue to change, with the key success parameters differing greatly depending on the application.  Mature markets such as servers and mainframe high performance computers focus on performance, with less focus on cost, whilst the rest of the market is firmly focused on cost.  Mobile devices continue to drive the market where cost, performance, battery life and form factor dominate the consumer’s needs.

This has led to an evolution of the semiconductor packages in the market.  The growing and diversifying system requirements have continued to drive the development of new package styles and configurations.

Major requirements are:

  • Small form factor and lightweight
  • Low profile
  • High I/O
  • High speed
  • Lower cost

Cost is the major driver, panel based architectures in semiconductor manufacture could significantly decrease costs, however at the moment these infrastructures do not exist.  New materials such as glass due to its high modulus, flatness and coplanarity offer the potential to increase yields in IC Substrate manufacture and are being investigated by a number of companies.  Long term growth rates will be dominated by mobile, medical, wearable and the IoT.  Figure 1 shows one market assessment by IC Insights on semiconductor sales growth by product type.

Figure 1: Market Growth Assessment 2012-2017 Source: IC Insights


The split die movement, where large devices are broken down into multiple chips of different functionalities then integrated by high density wiring on a substrate or on an interposer is driving feature size reductions far beyond the L/S requirements predicted, much sooner than industry roadmaps assumed.

Driven by consumer demand mobile devices have seen, with every new generation, a continual reduction in thickness and weight, while power hungry displays have increased in size. This has driven the need for improved battery technology. Although significant amounts of R&D dollars have been pumped into display and power supply industries, neither technology has been able to provide the necessary thickness reduction or power density increases required. It has therefore been left to the package substrate and mother board to accommodate the thickness reduction demanded.

Driven by these mobile requirements 2.5D SiP integration is seen as a low cost option to enable chips manufactured at different nodes to be placed side by side on an interposer, connected chip to chip by surface traces.

This new trend brings the need for innovations in both substrate and interconnections technologies. On the substrate side, the move to low-Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE) substrates with high dimensional stability, such as silicon, low-CTE laminates or glass, particularly in mobile device packaging, has been initiated to increase reliability at chip-level at finer pitches and to provide warpage reduction with increasing package sizes.

The L/S requirements are driven down to as low as 2/2 and 1/1µm L/S to enable the I/O densities required.  This can be seen in Figure 2 below.  Whilst this is seen as offering a good cost proposition the infrastructure to do this is not yet in place, at least not in the IC Substrate manufacturers.  Many challenges need to be overcome to do this.

Figure 2: L/S Requirements to Support New Mobile Architectures Source: ITRS / Atotech


This reduced L/S requirement also requires the microvias to shrink to 10µm diameter or less, to enable this wiring density.  This is a huge challenge for traditional build up films in IC Substrate manufacture, both in terms of laser drilling capabilities and filler size.  Advances in dielectrics, Excimer and Solid State lasers offer the substrate manufacturer alternative pathways to create these small vias.  Dielectrics without fillers offer an alternative route to creating these small features.

Embedded Trace Substrates (ETS) also show significant promise to meet the new market needs where microvias and embedded traces can be created simultaneously in a dielectric.  This offers superior yields and electrical properties to surface traces and have been demonstrated down to 5µm L/S in small volume production.

Photoimageable dielectrics (PID) seem capable to meet these microvia size demands and can also create embedded traces simultaneously, but suffer, at the moment, in terms of their dielectric properties and ability to use traditional processes like electroless copper with good adhesion to the dielectrics.  Suppliers are optimizing their processes accordingly to meet these challenges.
To enable thinner packages the Overmold or Molded Underfill compounds (MUF) are often thinned to die level, this induces more warpage as can be seen in Figure 3 below.  These issues require molding compound to have lower shrinkage and higher modulus to minimize warpage.

Figure 3: Effect of Thinning Overmold Compounds on Warpage Source: Qualcomm


The fine pitch requirements drive us to copper pillar connections on the die and in many cases also on the substrate, either as copper pillars or posts for die attach.  This leads to more reliance on Thermocompression bonding (TCB) techniques moving away from mass reflow systems and requires new surface finishes.  Standard Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold (ENIG) and Electroless Nickel Electroless Palladium Immersion Gold (ENEPIG) need to be replaced on high density packages due to increased risks of Ni bridging with sub-5µm line and space.  High frequency applications will also require nickel free surface finishes.

The growth of Wafer Level Packaging (WLP) continues in double digit Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGR).  Fan-In WLP already dominates the Flip Chip CSP markets in mobile devices whilst Fan-Out WLP threatens the existence of the IC Substrate itself as no substrate is required anymore.  Major growth in WLP is predicted by all going forward as can be seen in Figure 4 below.

Figure 4: Growth of Wafer Level Packaging 2014 to 2019 IC Only Source: Techsearch International Inc. and IC Insights


Copper pillar production has spread from the foundries to the Integrated Device Manufacturers (IDM’s) and the Outsourced Assembly and Test (OSAT’s) companies are all ramping up their capabilities.  CAGR is expected to be close to 30% per annum until 2019 as can be seen in Figure 5 below.

Figure 5: CAGR for Copper Pillar 2014-2019 Source: Techsearch International


In 2025 we’ll see an acceleration in the rate of change as we move closer to a world of true abundance. Here are some areas where we will see extraordinary transformation in the next decade.

$1,000 Human Brain - In 2025, $1,000 should buy you a computer able to calculate at 10^16 cycles per second (10,000 trillion cycles per second), the equivalent processing speed of the human brain.

Trillion-Sensor Economy - The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the networked connections between devices, people, processes and data. By 2025, the IoT will exceed 100 billion connected devices, each with a dozen or more sensors collecting data. This will lead to a trillion-sensor economy driving a data revolution beyond our imagination. Cisco’s recent report estimates the IoE will generate $19 trillion of newly created value.

Perfect Knowledge - We’re heading towards a world of perfect knowledge. With a trillion sensors gathering data everywhere (autonomous cars, satellite systems, drones, wearables, cameras), you’ll be able to know anything you want, anytime, anywhere, and query that data for answers and insights.

8 Billion Hyper-Connected People - Global internet giants are planning to provide worldwide connectivity to every human on Earth at speeds exceeding one megabit per second. We will grow from three to eight billion connected humans, adding five billion new consumers into the global economy. They represent tens of trillions of new dollars flowing into the global economy.

Disruption of Healthcare - Existing healthcare institutions will be crushed as new business models with better and more efficient care emerge. Thousands of startups, as well as today’s data giants will all enter this lucrative $3.8 trillion healthcare industry with new business models that dematerialize, demonetize and democratize today’s bureaucratic and inefficient system. Biometric sensing (wearables) and AI systems will make each of us the CEOs of our own health. Large-scale genomic sequencing and machine learning will allow us to understand the root cause of cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative disease and what to do about it. Robotic surgeons can carry out an autonomous surgical procedure perfectly (every time) for pennies on the dollar.

Augmented and Virtual Reality - A new generation of displays and user interfaces will be developed and the screen as we know it — on your phone, your computer and your TV — will disappear. The result will be a massive disruption in a number of industries including B2B, consumer retail, real estate, education, travel, entertainment, and the fundamental ways we operate as humans.

JARVIS (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System) - Artificial Intelligence (AI) research will make strides in the next decade. If you think Siri is useful now, the next decade’s generation of Siri will be much more like JARVIS from Iron Man, with expanded capabilities to understand and answer. In a decade, it will be normal for you to give your AI access to listen to all of your conversations, read your emails and scan your biometric data because the upside and convenience will be so immense.

Blockchain - You might have heard of bitcoin, which is the decentralized (global), democratized, highly secure cryptocurrency based on the blockchain. But the real innovation is the blockchain itself, a protocol that allows for secure, direct (without a middleman), digital transfers of value and assets (think money, contracts, stocks, IP). Many investors have poured tens of millions into the development and believe this is as important an opportunity as the creation of the Internet itself.

A closer look at two examples of these areas.

The Internet of Things (IoT)
What is this ‘Internet of Things’? Basically, it’s the combination of low-cost, low-power processors with ‘real-world’ electronic sensors and wireless network connectivity increasingly being added to a wide range of electrical devices.
These sensors can measure everything from temperature and humidity to pressure, proximity, sound, light, gravity, movement, feedback and through on-board software, devices can record and action those measurements over the internet.

The IoT will therefore cause an explosion in sensor technology to take place.  The IoT will connect devices for applications such as smart cars, smart grids, smart cities, wearables, homes, healthcare and almost everything will be capable of being connected to form a global integrated network.  Key applications for semiconductors will include, sensors, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), microprocessors, wireless connection both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and a myriad of other applications.  In order that this can take place the key drivers are, cost, miniaturization, ultra-low power consumption, energy harvesting, security, privacy and for wearables low heat dissipation. Figure 6 shows a typical IoT wireless sensor module.

Figure 6: Map of an IoT Wireless Sensor. Source: Yole


Predictions vary on the number interconnected devices there will be in the market but it is commonly thought that there will be up to 100 billion connected devices by the end of 2025. The growth in the market place is also expected to be significant – Figure 7.  Most of these sensors will be simple sensors with limited security computing capabilities, how to ensure that the data is protected is a major concern for manufacturers.

Figure 7: Predicted growth of IoT. Source: New Jersey Institute of Technology


IoT is an enabling technology, whereas the internet and current communication networks connect People to People (P2P), it will connect Machine to Machine (M2M).Examples of applications include: wearables, building and home automation, smart cities, smart manufacturing, health care and automotive.

One of the fastest growing applications today is Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) which are already incorporated in many cars today. Features like active parking assist, and adaptive cruise control are common in high-end vehicles and can be found in many mid-range vehicles too.  ADAS requires a multitude of sensors using radar, camera, light detection and range (LIDAR) and ultrasound based systems to maintain passenger safety as can be seen in Figure 8 below.

Figure 8: Advanced Driver Assistance Overview (ADAS) Schematic Source: Texas Instruments


Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing
Recent advances in human neural science suggest the neocortex uses a distributed hierarchy of memory to learn. The hierarchy stores common sequences at each node and can make spatial predictions based on them.

In August 2011 IBM researchers unveiled a new generation of experimental computer chips designed to emulate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition. Called cognitive computers, systems built with these chips won’t be programmed the same way traditional computers are today. Rather, cognitive computers are expected to learn through experiences, find correlations, create hypotheses, and remember (and learn from) the outcomes, mimicking the brain’s structural and synaptic plasticity.  The goal of the SyNAPSE project (Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics) is to create a system that not only analyzes complex information from multiple sensory modalities at once, but also dynamically rewires itself as it interacts with its environment – all while rivaling the brain’s compact size and low power usage.

In August 2015 IBM announced a one million neuron brain-inspired processor. The chip consumes merely 70 milliwatts, and is capable of 46 billion synaptic operations per second, per watt–literally a synaptic supercomputer in your palm.

Unlike the prevailing von Neumann architecture—but like the brain—TrueNorth has a parallel, distributed, modular, scalable, fault-tolerant, flexible architecture that integrates computation, communication, and memory and has no clock.  It is fair to say that TrueNorth completely redefines what is now possible in the field of brain-inspired computers, in terms of size, architecture, efficiency, scalability, and chip design techniques.

Figure 9: TrueNorth Chip Core Array. Source: IBM


Traditional computers separate memory from computation, requiring bits to continually shuffle between memory and the CPU via a bus. This means power must increase as the communication rate (clock frequency) increases. In contrast, the brain operates a low “clock” frequency and with low power density. In IBM’s new TrueNorth chip, computation, memory, and communication are intimately integrated, which leads to low power operation. Figure 9.
In the words of Dharmendra S. Modha, IBM Fellow…“I was not there when ENIAC was unveiled in February 1946, but I have a palpable sense that we are at a similar turning point in the history of computing. The technological and practical possibilities are immense and could touch every sphere of science, technology, business, government, and society.”


From the smallest personal items to the largest continents, everything, everywhere will be digitally connected, and responsive to our wants and likes. The digital world as we know it today will seem simple and rudimentary in 2025. If you think we’re electronically dependent now, you haven’t seen anything yet. Thanks to the prevalence of improved semiconductors, graphene-carbon nanotube capacitors, cell-free networks of service antenna and 5G technology, wireless communications will dominate everything, everywhere.

From cars and homes that respond to your every wish and want, to appliances that think for themselves, to interconnected geographies – from the most remote farmlands to bustling cities – we will all be digitally directed. Imagine the day when the entire continent of Africa is completely, digitally connected. That day will come by 2025.

Carbon nanostructures and carbon-based nanocomposites in particular, are part of the driving force behind this transformation, and are poised to take center stage in high-energy density and power-density applications. Carbon nanocomposites can be used as supercapacitive electrodes, either in two-or-three-dimensional structures, with high surface area. And, these supercapacitors will be able to store infinitely more energy for later release.
We are moving toward incredible times where the only constant is change, and the rate of change is increasing.

Bottom Line: We Live in the Most Exciting Times Ever!



Related Stories

EIPC Events view all events

Publications view all publications

  • WECC Report 2017


    WECC Global PCB Production Report For 2017 FREE of charge EIPC membership service A Product of the Partnership among the WECC Member Associations on Behalf of their Members in the Electronic Circuits Industry Worldwide

  • Proceedings EIPC 50th Anniversary Conference Dusseldorf


    Proceedings 50th Anniversary conference 2018

Industry Directory view directory

  • Cicor Group

    Cicor is a globally active group of leading companies in the electronics industry. The group’s companies provide complete outsourcing services and a broad range of technologies for the manufacture of highly complex PCBs, 3D-MID solutions, hybrids circuits, electronic modules, plastic injection molding and box-building.

  • Isola Group

    Corporate Responsibility. The responsible stewardship of the environment and sustainable business practices is important to long-term success. Committed to operating our business in a manner that creates better social, economic and environmental outcomes for all those involved in the electronics industry.


Please provide some more details


Please login or register


EIPC membership has many advantages, both financially and in services. Such as:


You must be a member to view this content


EIPC membership has many advantages, both financially and in services. Such as:


Please Login / Register


Please provide some more details

Please provide some more details

Thank you!

An EIPC staff member will contact you soon to arrange payment.

Please fill in the form

EIPC will send an invoice to you through email and discuss your yearly fees.