I know where many of the optimistic people in the semiconductor industry were today; giving presentations at the Global Business Council of IMAPS in Scottsdale AZ. The official theme of the day: Supply Chain Development for 3D Packaging, but I picked up on a subtheme, which was how to leverage the current economic condition for 3D packaging growth.

The experts agree. Companies that use the downturn to their advantage are positioning themselves for growth when the economy rebounds. Collaborative efforts are more encouraged than ever to bring these technologies to market quickly, and quarter by quarter, the semiconductor will begin to experience rebound.

There was no gloomy economic forecasting (scratch that – I wrote that sentence before Jim Walker stated that there would be no growth in the semiconductor industry this year) However, to his credit, he did redeem himself by the end of his talk saying that packaging technologies add more value to system s as time-to-market compresses and silicon becomes commoditized. He predicts that packaging, assembly and test will contribute to 20% of the total semiconductor revenue by 2013.

Bill McLean , IC Insights, regaled the group over lunch to position themselves for a rebound. “It’s going up from here. I’m not predicting a boom, but it’s going to be better than it is right now,” he said.

He and Jan Vardaman of TechSearch International both pointed out the general population’s reliance on electronic devices. “All phases of future life will be increasingly dependent upon electronics,” noted McLean. Vardaman pointed out that at some point, everyone has to buy new cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices. The message: the industry will bounce back – demand will call for it.

In the mean time, Vardaman encouraged continued investment in R&D for 3D integration technologies, saying that the companies who do so will be the ones who survive. Walker pointed out that historically, extreme industry downturns accelerate adoption of packaging technologies. When times are good, he noted, everyone’s busy getting product out the door. Production lulls, in a sense, allow for the time needed to invest in developing new processes. Bill Bottoms of Nanonexus declared, “The future of industry growth depends on the success of 3D Integration”.

And everybody agreed that joint development agreements, consortium activities – any means of collaboration really – are the keys to rapid, cost-effective technology development.

That’s really just the tip of the iceberg of what’s being talked about here at the Global Business Council and IMAPS Device Packaging Symposium. Stay tuned this week for much more on both. – F.v.T

Francoise von Trapp

They call me the “Queen of 3D” because I have been following the course of…

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