Chip Express

Aug. 1, 2004
Cutting the cost and time in moving chip designs from prototype to production

A fast turnaround of prototypes at minimal cost is often a limiting step in the tight schedule for launching new electronic products. In the validation phase of new chip designs, a rapid evaluation of the performance of chips is often needed to check the functionality of the device as a packaged component. However, for the small numbers of devices to be evaluated, the costs, effort and lead times to tool up for production of a new package are often prohibitive. MCE-Tewkesbury is offering its flexible packaging capability for device prototyping, together with access to its manufacturing and test equipment.

The company has a set of tooled package designs based on ceramic packages, suitable for evaluation of lead free soldering, which can be made available for customers to carry out device prototyping.

The devices are assembled using established die attach, wire bonding and package sealing processes. MCE-Tewkesbury also offers fast turnaround routes to prototype plastic packaged parts. If access to specific electronic manufacturing and test capabilities is required without the inconvenience of minimum order quantities, the company has wafer sawing, prototype assembly and MIL 883 Class B assembly and screening services. It also provides the following: high-density aluminium wire wedge/wedge bonding; solder, adhesive and glass package sealing; electrical component test for packaged parts and wafers; and dies of all sizes. MCE supplies high reliability electronics for aerospace, industrial, telecommunications, computer and medical applications.

MCE can also provide designers with an opportunity to upgrade obsolete ASICs or FPGAs by adding a second IC chip attached to the replicated old component. The system is likely to be of particular use in applications where additional functionality needs to be added to an existing 'long lifetime' system during an up-rating or refurbishment exercise.

This is common in military and industrial hardware that needs to be retained in service with enhanced electronics. Typically in such situations, MCE is called upon to produce new ASICs or FPGAs to match existing components where replacement originals cannot be obtained because the manufacturer no longer produces them.

MCE can replicate chips working from original design and production data or can reverse-engineer chips to match the original specifications. Now the company can take the service one stage further by adding a second chip with additional functionality (eg memory) which can be fitted within the original package cavity of the device. The additional chip can be mounted on top of the replacement ASIC or FPGA and wire bond interconnections can be made to the underlying chip or to leadthroughs on the package substrate. This approach offers an option to improve system performance even where it is not possible to add enhanced functionality to the replicated ASIC or FPGA design. It can sometimes be used as an economic alternative to redesigning the chip where the equipment manufacturer holds a stock of wafers with bare chips of the original design.

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