In one of my all-time favorite movies, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, family patriarch, Kosta Portukalo is obsessed with his own culture, “Give me a word, any word, and I will show you how the root of that word is Greek.” I’m starting to feel that way about 3D technologies. Give me a new technology, any technology, and I will show you how it qualifies as a 3D configuration, either at the chip, package or system level.
For example, Yesterday, I interviewed the team at Texas Instruments (Roland Pang, Larry Nye and Matt Stovall) responsible for launching the company’s PicoStar ultra-thin chip package. While this initial device — an ESD/EMI filter that involves a single die, and achieves a low profile by interconnecting to the board via Cu-Ni-Pd pillar bump — is an achievement in and of itself as an ultra-thin package, it doesn’t really make the cut as a 3D configuration. However, the minute I heard “embedded in the PCB to reclaim board space” my 3D antennae perked up. While the first roll-out of package is intended to be board mounted using standard pick-and-place assembly processes, the second generation will be an embedded device with copper pillar bump interconnects, and is assembled a build-up process currently being developed with board manufacturers-who-could-not-be-named. (Imbera or Ibiden perhaps? Just a guess on my part – but I’ll be keeping my ears open). Embedding the device uses the Z-direction to free up board space (reportedly 90% over the standard ESD/EMI leadframe package) for either more functionality or overall reduction in end product.
Then, when Pang and Nye explained how it could be mounted on a “daughter” package to create a more robust ESD/EMI solution than the daughter package alone, I thought, hmmm…. so it can be assembled in a PoP configuration, once again using the Z-direction to reduce form-factor, thereby qualifying it, by my definition anyhow, as a 3D solution at both the package and board levels – so, there you go! – F.v.T