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Millimeter-Wave Subsystem Packaging for Low Cost and High Volume
Keywords: Millimeter-wave, Module, Consumer
The evolutionary development of millimeter-wave (MMW) subsystem integration and packaging technology has led to a new approach for producing low-cost modules for the mass market. The scope of MMW manufacturing has progressed from the original defense market, for which tuning and hermetic packaging are the norm, to the commercial market, for which no-tweak chip-on-board technology is the leader. Now comes the consumer market, which requires a further reduction in price by one to two orders of magnitude and a corresponding increase in manufacturing capacity. Examination of the electronics industry’s most successful high-volume manufacturing methods reveals the role of massive parallelism in driving down product cost. The premier example is the manufacturing of thousands of integrated circuit chips on a semiconductor wafer. The wafer becomes the manufacturing unit for most of the process, and its processing costs are spread over the thousands of chips. Unfortunately, semiconductor real estate is yet too expensive to allow the integration of practical antennas or waveguide launches on a chip. The antenna must be addressed at the module level, and parallel processing of hundreds of modules on a panel is the key. This thinking has led to an approach in which modules are processed in parallel on large printed circuit board panels, the panel being the unit of manufacture through the most expensive steps. Lamination enables 3-D construction and small module sizes, so that hundreds of modules can fit on a standard 18-inch by 24-inch panel. Transmitter and receiver modules with integrated antennas and connectors, bias conditioning, and electrical overstress and environmental protection can be priced below $5 each (not including the RF chip costs) and can be manufactured in volumes exceeding 100 million modules per year. The process will be described, and examples will be shown.
Edward B. Stoneham, Engineering Fellow
Endwave Corporation
San Jose, CA

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