While it seems that the semiconductor industry has suddenly embraced heterogeneous integration as the next revolutionary innovation to further the quest for higher performance and lower-power, lower-cost devices, it has actually been developing over the past four or more years. We at Dow Electronic Materials, along with many others in the industry, have been and continue to be active participants in this evolution. As such, we were excited to see the recent establishment of the Heterogeneous Integration Technology Roadmap and believe that 2017 will see advanced packaging driving this initiative. With our strong interest in advanced packaging, Dow has also joined and is actively supporting the activities of HITRS, through participation at face-to-face meetings and workshops around the world, in addition to giving our insights into process integration and material needs to address industry challenges, projecting trends and roadmapping.
Looking back at the life span of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), it’s clear that this industry has been roadmap-driven for quite some time. Why? Because roadmaps inspire collaboration and healthy competition as everyone strives to reach the same end goal for the industry as a whole. What is less productive, however, is a roadmap driven by one, or a select few, companies, as that results in an unbalanced agenda. The more companies that participate, the more consensus-building we will have.
At Dow, we have always been involved in roadmap activities because they provide more focused innovation and allow us to target our research funds to develop the right material sets, rather than funding many programs that may lead to dead-end technology paths. Additionally, these activities provide a vehicle for manufacturers, equipment and materials suppliers in the market to build a consensus, which contributes to healthy technology development with optimal return on investment. As a result, costs go down, volume goes up and everyone wins.
The ITRS Roadmap was laser-focused on CMOS scaling because it was driven by the consumer and end-customer quest for ever-faster computers with more capacity. This is no longer the case. Rather, the Heterogeneous Integration Roadmap is driven by the trend toward connecting the world through the internet of things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, smart homes, smart cities and more. Now it’s all about increased functionality, apps, and services. Hardware is pushed further back, and complexity is about more than the size of the transistor and more storage.
We still have a long way to go on integration before we run out of steam from the raw capability of the front end, as evidenced by manufacturers committed to rolling out 10nm, 7nm, and even 5nm processes. Additionally, there are still many materials capabilities needed for front-end processes. Dow stands ready to serve all of these areas with material sets, as we can draw not only from our advanced packaging portfolio but our adjacent business units that serve related industries such as display, LED and CMOS image sensor manufacturing.
However, as the IoT goes through its first phase of adoption, advanced packaging will play a major role, as the technology calls for the integration of MEMS, sensors, RF devices, analog, etc. Ultimately, we believe the Heterogeneous Integration Roadmap initiative will do what the ITRS and Moore’s law did for the semiconductor industry. It’s going to be an exciting future, with packaging at the center of it. ~ Robert Kavanagh, Global Business Director, Advanced Packaging Technologies, Dow Electronic Materials