Intel to reveal chip-packing breakthrough

Chip packaging is arcane, often overlooked and absolutely crucial to the future of the semiconductor industry.

Intel will tomorrow unveil an entirely new design for the silicon and metal vehicles that connect the microprocessor to the rest of the computer.

The company says the breakthrough will play an essential role in allowing processing power to grow. Five years from now, microprocessors will run at 20GHz; they'll need to issue and receive a vast amount of signals and will require a high infusion of electricity.

Bumpless Build-Up Layer (BBUL) packaging will essentially channel all that traffic through an extremely thin web of interconnections--tiny wires that link chip circuits--surrounding the chip. BBUL, set to go to work in five to six years, allows a far more ornate web than can be produced through current packaging technology.

"Your package interconnect density has to be extremely complex," said Koushik Banerjee, the technical adviser for the Assembly Technology Development department at Intel. "The part that is going to kill performance in the future is the interconnect length."

How the chip fits into the package will also change. Currently, chips sit on top of the package. With BBUL, the chip will be embedded entirely in the package because the package will be grown around the chip through the same lithographic principles used to build the chips in the first place.

Packaging has never been one of the glamorous jobs in the chip industry. "It's been the ignored child in the semiconductor family," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight 64. The main function performed by a package is to create electrical connections between the chip and the motherboard.

News source: ZDnet Australia

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