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Getting the Most Out of Gold in Wire Bonding in Semiconductor Packaging
Keywords: wire bonding, gold wire, cost reduction
The semiconductor industry finds itself caught in a dilemma. The industry has traditionally reduced costs year-on-year over the range of products it offers. Part of this reduction comes from packaging where manufacturing efficiencies allow reductions in the cost per I/O. As the leaded package families are expected to increase in volume, while die sizes shrink over the same period, the cost reduction targets may be difficult to meet in the future based on current practices and raw material prices. Wire bonding is still the dominant interconnection technique in semiconductor packaging. Gold wire is the easiest and fastest wire to use in the bonding process and it remains the material of choice for the majority of wire-bonded devices produced today. However, the need to reduce material costs and remain competitive in the current market environment has compelled integrated device manufacturers and subcontractors to look at alternative material types, most notably copper wire. A recent survey of the industry has revealed that whilst many manufacturers are considering using copper wire, there remain very widespread concerns on migrating away from the use of gold. Given the industry's clear preference for using gold wire in the majority of packages, it is important that the cost of using it is minimized without compromising on product reliability and quality. We present a critical review of the wire bonding process with a focus on the practices, procedures, and material choices. The aim is to allow users to examine their own design and production activities against best practice and potentially to allow a significant improvement in the cost effectiveness of using gold in the wire bonding process, without compromising on product quality. For example, a 30% reduction of the FAB ratio in a 32 I/O QFN with 38 wires would save 1 km per 1,100 strips.
Charles J. Vath, III, Principal Consultant/Director
ComSol Consulting Pte. Ltd.
Singapore, N/A

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