Electronic coupling is the transfer of energy from one circuit or medium to another. Sometimes it is intentional and sometimes not (crosstalk). I hope that this column, by mixing technology and general observations, is thought provoking and “couples” with your thinking. Most of the time I will stick to technology but occasional crosstalk diversions may deliver a message closer to home.
Moore has Left the Building!
Unlike Elvis, Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, is still with us. Although the debate continues among very smart people as to whether Moore’s Law is “truly dead”, this argument is now purely academic. As the electronics industry has moved to the “Post Personal Computer (PC) Era”, Moore’s Law which accurately predicted price over time for complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuits, is no longer relevant.
Don’t pop the champagne just yet! Although plenty of good news was shared at the 2014 SEMIIndustry Strategy Symposium (ISS) there was the sobering outlook of possible limited long-term growth due to technology issues as well as economic projections. Noticeable was the lack of news and updates on key industry developments.
This is the yearly “data rich” or “data overload” (take your pick) conference of semiconductor supply chain executives. The majority of the attendees and presenters are from the SEMI member companies that develop the equipment, materials, processes, and technology used to build, test, and package semiconductors. Keeping the pressure on for advanced technology were the “end customer” attendees and presenters – semi-conductor manufacturers.
Cost! Cost! Cost! are the three most important words for 3D semiconductors.
Just like the real estate mantra “location, location, location”, if you don’t have a solution to the cost issues nothing else matters for 2.5/3D integrated circuit (IC) integration and packaging. It is true that, Xilinx is shipping “production” quantities of 2.5D parts and others have sampled 3D parts. However, there are plenty of technical challenges yet to be solved to make 2.5/3D practical in volume production at reasonable cost and yield.
As the Burn-in & Test Strategies (BiTS) Workshop 2013 fades into the sunset (queue the music), here is a round-up of the highlights. There were gun fights in the corral as well as technical questions for the presenters. The saloon girls and gunfighters took an edge off of the “geek” factor. This year over three hundred fifty people come to the “Circle BiTS Ranch” (aka the Hilton in Mesa, Arizona) for the premier conference focused on what is new and next for semiconductor test tooling and strategy. Oh, did I mention that the theme this year was Western?
The “Post Personal Computer” (Post PC) era became the hot topic when Tim Cook introduced the latest iPad last week. Yes, calling it a “revolution” is definitely hype that is part of Apple‘s Post PC marketing campaign. Hype aside, it is clear that there has been a marked shift in digital hardware for the consumption of content and communication. The PC – be it a Windows, Mac, or Linux based system – is no longer “the device”. It is now one of many devices including portable music players (dominated by iPods), smart phones (lead by iPhones and Android based systems), and tablets (dominated by iPads). The shift is large and the impact is huge. To understand how big, watch the first three minutes of Mr. Cook’s presentation. Then you will understand why Apple had the largest market capitalization of any US company in February – the numbers are staggering.
No this isn’t a soliloquy to an Apple iPad that is no longer, but a brief tour of the incredible memory, packaging, and system technology that can be found under the hoods of the original iPad and the iPad 2 along with some of the manufacturing and test implications. These devices clearly demonstrate the new paradigm of “More Than Moore“ where scaling of systems and packaging will propel the next wave of growth in electronics beyond the traditional doubling of performance every two years predicted by Moore’s Law. For many in semiconductor packaging and test engineering communities the issues related to More than Moore have been an academic discussion up to now, but clearly the success of the iPad product line shows the current reality for advanced devices and where the future is headed. Apple and their suppliers took huge risks in developing these new technologies in exchange for substantial returns.