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January 17, 2014

Rao R Tummala, Pettit Chair Professor and Director, Georgia Tech

Rao R Tummala, Pettit Chair Professor and Director, Georgia Tech
Rao R Tummala, Pettit Chair Professor and Director, Georgia Tech
We started packaging because of the need to have to test the chips and to connect with other components on the system board to form electronic systems. So transistor scaling, following Moore's Law, was the basis of packaging and  all electronics, making  electronics the largest single, $1.5T global industry, serving a variety of individual industries that span computing, communications, consumer, automotive and others.

The basis for this industry is a result of singular focus in transistor scaling, leading to a 5B transistor chip, involving dozens of semiconductor companies around the globe.These chips were packaged mostly as  single chips, in which case the value of packaging has been minimal.

Packaging became highly valuable, more valuable than ICs when on-chip transistor integration was inadequate to meet the system needs. This led to multichip packaging in 1980s, a concept very similar to wafer scale integration in which the original wafer is diced into individual chips, tested and yielded but then reconstituted back into multichip wafer, interconnecting all the chips onto  a non-silicon substrate with highest wiring density.This was called 2D then and 2.5D now. The birth of cellphone industry in 1980s made these into 3D stack of memory chips , initially with peripheral wirebonds, outside the chips  and now with so-called TSVs within the stack.

But the electronics landscape is changing, driven by a new industry that integrates all these individual industries into so-called "Smart Mobile Systems" that promise to perform every imaginable function, in smallest size and lowest cost that every global person could afford. They perform not only computing, communications, entertainment but also banking, replacing credit cards and healthcare by monitoring with ultra-small camera within body and communicating to smartphones, predicting heart attacks and other ailments, long before they happen.Cognitive computing announced by IBM can add a variety of functions such as recognizing people and objects, and detecting quality of foods and environment.

Such a new frontier, however, requires revolutionary technologies that I call System Scaling, to add to transistor scaling that started 60 years ago. Packaging is no longer simply for semiconductors, following  Transistor Scaling. It is for smart systems following System Scaling. Smart mobile systems are expected to drive unparalleled electronics technology paradigms in system miniaturization, functionality, and cost. The system scaling technologies are many that cut across electrical, mechanical, thermal, materials, bio and  chemical process sciences and engineering.

This is a new industry that  can be expected to be as big, if not bigger than the entire current  $1.5T electronics and IT industry.

Rao R Tummala, Pettit Chair Professor and Director
Georgia Tech