eWLB hits the big time

Sometimes I get so caught up in following the progress of 3D IC with TSV that I lose sight of what else is going on in the 3D space.That is until something like STATS ChipPAC’s announcement that they are ramping to volume production with first-generation eWLB technology hits my inbox.

To bring you all up to speed on the history behind this announcement, in August of 2008 STATS ChipPAC entered into a manufacturing agreement with Infineon for Infineon’s embedded Wafer-Level Ball Grid Array (eWLB); a fan-out wafer level package (WLP) technology that combines traditional front- and back-end techniques to build a package that has higher I/O and increased thermal and electrical performance in a reduced footprint at lower cost. The intention of this agreement was to increase the throughput of packages using the eWLB technology by developing a manufacturing process that leverages STATS Chip PAC’s infrastructure.

Around the same time that they entered into the manufacturing agreement, the two companies also entered into joint development agreement that included ST Microelectronics, to develop the next-generation eWLB, a 3D WLP that builds on the first-generation technology by using both sides of a reconstituted wafer; adding in multiple routing layers, multiple die, and expansion to larger package size and ball count. The intention is to introduce product offerings in 2010.

Today’s big news is that STATS ChipPAC automated manufacturing process, which includes wafer reconstitution, wafer level molding, redistribution using thin film technology, solder ball mount, package singulation and testing, is ready to roll. As the company’s CTO and executive V.P. Dr. Han Bjung Joon states, “We successfully demonstrated the reliability of first generation eWLB technology, ramped to volume production and are positioned to double our production unit volume by the end of 2009.”

This certainly marks a major milestone for both STATS and Infineon, and paves the way nicely for the next-generation of eWLB as well. – F.v.T.

PS – For a deeper understanding of this next-generation 3D eWLB, I recommend an article written by Yann Guillou, of ST Ericsson, 3D Integration for wireless products: An industrial perspective that appeared in the June 2009 issue of i-Micronews.