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Wafer-Level Packaging and the Mobile Revolution

Wed, Jul 06, 2016 @ 01:52 PM

Back in September and this past March, Apple held its biannual Special Events. These events are meant to introduce new products and features, and they happen quite regularly. These two recent events, however, seemed to leave something out: computers.

September’s presentation was over two hours long and didn’t once mention the flagship devices that put Apple on the map in the first place. Instead, it introduced a host of incredible improvements and additions to the iPhone and iPad.

Why?

Mobile is changing the world and, in kind, the world is changing mobile. “Mobile is about more than a device or platform. The combination of immediacy, personalization, scale and global reach mobile provides has democratized content, commerce and culture,” according to Laura Desmond at the Mobile World Congress.

Both consumers and the companies that serve them are constantly innovating and finding new ways to push boundaries and connect each other on deeper, more meaningful levels. But within this constant game of “What’s next?” there’s even more pressure for the semiconductor industry to develop the technologies that actually facilitate this massive shift. As we reach the limits of Moore’s Law (the principle that’s been driving the conversation this far), where can WE go next? Fan-out wafer-level packaging is one of the industry’s most promising answers.

A game-changer

Fan-out wafer-level packaging (FOWLP) is a process that has been around for several years, and it’s no coincidence that mobile tech has exploded in that same time. FOWLP is a process by which we can manufacture chip-size or chip-scale packages (CSPs) that have lots of input/output (I/O) connections. While conventional packaging techniques require more space and more complicated manufacturing processes to make room for these extra I/O connections, FOWLP bridges the gap between the chip and the outside world (your mobile phone or tablet) much more efficiently.

Game changer, right?

Because of FOWLP, devices are thinner, more efficient and much more powerful.

Jack of all trades

Another huge benefit FOWLP provides is its versatility. As the semiconductor industry makes a seismic transition from 2D to 2.5D to full 3D integration, FOWLP provides a stable, versatile way to connect different types of chip packages for different purposes. They can apply across different markets, devices and consumers.

These sorts of applications and capabilities are what we see as the biggest opportunity for the industry. Though not a brand-new concept, “It intrigues everybody because it can play a significant part in a lot of product road maps,” according to Ramakanth Alapati.

This is the kind of advancement that’s allowing technology manufacturers to rewrite the playbook, so to speak. With educated consumers and innovators like Apple at the helm, the future looks pretty exciting.

Topics: Integrated Circuits, wafer-level packaging, FOWLP, 2d, 3d

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