Oh, how I missed those hallway conversations! And last week’s IMAPS International Symposium 2021 did not disappoint. It was so energizing to reconnect face-to-face with those industry colleagues who were able to make the trip.

While the keynotes and sessions provided great insight on technology trends impacting the microelectronics industry, it was the opportunity to discuss in real-time what we were hearing that set this in-person event apart from the previous year’s virtual version. The added benefit of this event being hybrid is that those who could not attend in person can still register to access on-demand content here.

Including exhibitors, speakers and attendees both online and in-person, IMAPS reports 514 registered participants. Approximately 275 gathered in person to listen to both live-streamed and in-person keynotes and technical sessions from industry experts including Hamid Azimi, Ph.D., Intel; Suresh Ramalingam, Xilinx; KT Moore, Cadence; Peter O’Brien, Tyndall University; SW Yoon, Samsung; Jean Christophe Eloy, Yole Développement; and Roman Ostholt, LPKF Laser & Electronics AG.

Rich Rice kicked things off by thanking everyone in attendance – both live and virtual, for their continued support through the past 18 months. All but 6 months of his two-year term as IMAPS President took place during the pandemic. That could not have been easy, but he led the team brilliantly through the transition from in-person, to virtual, and now to hybrid. He handed off his presidential baton to Beth Keser, of Intel, and Erica Folk of Northrup Grumman stepped into the role of President-Elect.

As outgoing President, Rice also presented President’s Awards – selected at his discretion, to outgoing executive council members Ron Huemoeller, who completes his term as Past President; and Adrienne Gerard, who is completing her tenure as VP of Marketing. He recognized both for exemplary service in these volunteer roles.

As Past President, Huemoeller presented IMAPS Society Awards to the following members:

Fellow of the SocietySusan Trulli
William D. Ashman – John A. Wagnon Technical Achievement AwardKuan-Neng Chen
Sidney J Stein International AwardTanja Braun
IMAPS Foundation’s Steve Adamson Student Recognition AwardSuraj Ravimanalan
Outstanding Educator AwardSubu Iyer
Lifetime Achievement AwardManford Williamson
Daniel C. Hughes, Jr. Memorial Award SE Steve Bezuk
Leadership AwardAmy Lujan

Additionally, Amkor Technology, a 3D InCites Community Member, received the Corporate Recognition Award. Curtis Zwenger accepted the award on behalf of the company.  Among the recipients, Subu Iyer, Steve Besuk, and Ron Huemoeller were present to accept the awards in person.

For the live-stream talks, it wasn’t quite the same as an in-person keynote. It was more like watching a webinar as a group. I’m sure it was difficult for the speakers to gauge the audience, as they couldn’t hear laughter or read body language. Azimi even enjoyed a cup of coffee while he was presenting.

Jan Vardaman hosted a panel discussion, in which the panelists participated in person and virtually. Talk about a hybrid event! I can see going forward the added benefits of continuing this format.

Key topics of discussion through the week from the keynotes and panel included optical interconnects vs. electrical interconnects, the limitations of copper, the need for co-packages optics to support more advanced technologies like AI and 5G, and much more.

“It’s amazing how far packaging technology has come in the past few years! The days of wrapping plastic around silicon are gone. It’s a good time to be a packaging engineer,” noted Azimi, as he presented an overview of Intel’s advanced packaging portfolio that was unveiled at this year’s Architecture Day and Intel Accelerated.

My serendipitous moment happened when I shared a ride to the airport with Dick Otte, CEO of QP Technologies, and its parent company, Promex.  QP is a 3D InCites community member, and Dick recently participated in our podcast episode about reshoring advanced packaging in the United States. I was eager to hear his feedback on some of the talks.

We talked about highlights of the panel discussion, such as the importance of developing interconnect standards for chiplets to make third-party assembly possible. It’s the same story as with any emerging technology in this space: Who owns the design and the IP? Will companies be willing to provide open file platforms that enable chiplet-to-chiplet communication from multiple foundries? After all, the interconnect is the secret sauce, and Intel, AMD, and TSMC all have their own approach to this.

I’m also wondering what role the OSATS play in this. It reminds me of the early days of 2.5D interposers and 3DIC. Otte said it reminded him of the early days of packaging when we were dealing with lead frames with different pin-outs, different packaging materials, ceramics, polymers, etc. and the push for standards; how once a package is qualified, it’s here to stay, and how QFNs were a good example of packaging standards. We also talked about how after all these years, polyimide dielectrics are still lacking and it would be great if someone came up with one that performed well.

I spent most of my time reconnecting with old friends, visiting community member exhibits, and introducing 3D InCites to companies I hadn’t yet met. Because we all miss those conversations, I captured some of them to share with you – stay tuned for some special 3D InCites Podcast episodes over the next few weeks. Phil Garrou, who attended virtually, will be weighing in with his technical expert opinion of the sessions in his blog, IFTLE.

I’m already looking forward to IMAPS DPC in March, here in Arizona. Hopefully, even more people will be able to attend in person, and we’ll be holding our 3D InCites Awards ceremony again. As I said, it’s great to be back! ~ FvT

UPDATED:

Check out the Podcast Episodes here:

Francoise von Trapp

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

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