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REAL TIME WITH... IPC APEX EXPO 2023 SHOW & TELL MAGAZINE I I-CONNECT007 117 Taiwan; China is well positioned to support multiple substrate technologies, but North America has minimal capability for flip-chip ball grid array substrates and none for wire- bond integrated circuit substrates. "We have a lot of work to do," Kelly said. His call to action stressed that while North America and Europe are talking about these issues, Asia is actually doing something about them, further widening the gap between Asia and the West. Focusing only on silicon, he said, will extend the supply chain rather than shorten it. Substrates and packaging assem- bly are critical, and the U.S. lacks both build- up substrate capability and package assembly capacity. Overcoming these business and technology issues will require a significant change of mindset. Kelly highlighted IPC's commitment to both help build an advanced packaging ecosystem and adopt a "silicon to systems" approach that preserves the importance of the solder joint on the advanced assembly. Kelly then handed the mic over to Vardaman, who explored the future needs of the IC sub- strate ecosystem: "Semiconductor fabs are a necessary but not sufficient solution," she told the group. "A package acts as the inter- face or intermediary between the chip and the board. You can make all the silicon chips you want, but if you can't package them, they don't do you much good. If you don't invest in the packaging infrastructure in North Amer- ica, what's the point of making the chips here if you just send them overseas for assem- bly?" Echoing Kelly's earlier message, Varda- man reminded us that such a short-sighted approach will create more problems than it solves: "You have not solved the problem— you've lengthened the supply chain instead of shortening it." Vardaman reviewed many of the different packaging options available, all of which use build-up substrates, and outlined a typical manufacturing sequence using Ajinomoto build-up film. She described silicon interpos- ers, fan-out substrates, embedded bridges, redistribution layer interposers, and 3D stacking. Historically, U.S. PCB manufactur- ers have declined to make major investments in IC package substrate production, causing the U.S. to now have little to no capability for advanced high-density build-up substrates. Most equipment and material suppliers are in Asia, mainly Japan. Although flip-chip BGA substrates were in short supply in 2020 and 2021, substrate manufacturers have been reluctant to increase capacity. Currently, they experi- ence relatively low gross margins and are being treated as commodity suppliers. New production lines are expensive and there are long lead times on some equipment. How- ever, the industry is now showing some signs of improvement. How can a substrate and packaging industry become established in the U.S.? Short pre- sentations from Neely, Fuller, and Salama provoked such lively interactive discussions on this topic that if felt like they could easily have carried on for the rest of the day. The session concluded by calling on the U.S. government to take appropriate steps to boost the U.S. semiconductor industry under the CHIPS Act by actively encourag- ing the expansion of the advanced packaging ecosystem, supply-chain partnerships, and industry-backed workforce programs. IPC sent a similar message to the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the emerging CHIPS Incentive Program. It will be interesting to see whether such initiatives will have an impact on the U.S. substrate and packaging industries. S&T

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