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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Packaging Innovation At West

Scott Kulicke, chairman and CEO of Kulicke and Soffa, gave a provocative keynote at the recent SEMICON show in Singapore. He pointed out that that the semiconductor industry has undergone pervasive dis-integration to achieve today’s cost efficiencies through supply chain specialization. Through outsourcing of manufacturing, through outsourcing of design and process technology, and through outsourcing of assembly, packaging and test, the industry has achieved great efficiencies, but not without hidden costs. Today, every supplier intensively competes exclusively with companies at the same level in the supply chain, preventing the kind of innovations through vertical integration that are vital in this era of consumer-driven electronics.

Kulicke was lamenting the fact that the current industry structure prevents packaging equipment companies from working directly with the end customer. Without this interaction, he questioned whether meaningful innovation—the kind you can make a lot of money on—can be achieved.

It is exactly this kind of need that we are trying to address at SEMICON West. Silicon Valley is no longer the center of the most advanced, most productive fabs in the world—they have mostly moved to Asia. Yet, the region is by far the leading center in fabless chip design, venture funding, and home to some of the leading consumer electronics companies in the world, such as Apple and HP. It is also remains an R&D center to Intel, AMD and others and home to leading EDA companies. All these audiences immerse themselves in SEMICON West-related events, programs and meetings. In this multi-chip, package-on-package world, no other region can hope to bring the full supply chain--from design to production and test—including the leading fabless chip companies, the leading venture backers, and the leading OEMs together to explore, learn and take part in the collaborative creative process necessary to compete in the digital world.

At this year’s SEMICON West we have tried to organize events and programs precisely to foster this full supply chain interaction that Kulicke was referring to. On Monday, July 15 we have a organized a Packaging Summit that will bring together design, fabless, equipment, materials, OSATs and IDMs together to talk about Through Silicon Via or TSV technology. TSV may force intensive design-manufacturing-test integration at levels unprecedented in the history of the industry.

On Wednesday, we have tried to organize the entire day’s events around Mobile Electronics with keynotes and TechXPOTs programs devoted to the special needs of mobile electronics in wafer processing, packaging, test and design. These programs—together with exhibitors like Advantest, Synopsys, Cadence, K&S, ASM, and others—we have to overcome the kind of disintegrated, specialized supply chain we see today.

All the ingredients are in place—hopefully with a heat and a little stirring, sparks will fly.

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