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Antenna-in-Package (AiP) Technology

Key Takeaways

  • Antenna-in-Package (AiP) technology streamlines wireless device design which reduces the need for external antennas and saves valuable space in compact devices like wearables and smartphones.

  • AiP's integration of antennas within semiconductor packages enhances wireless performance and signal quality while also offering customization for diverse applications.

  • The use of AiP, especially in millimeter-wave frequencies, improves signal strength and simplifies device design, leading to more compact and robust wireless devices.

Diagram of AiP configuration based on Flip-Chip Ball Grid Array (FCBGA) entails the attachment of an RF chip on the lower surface of a ball grid array (BGA) substrate, complemented by the formation of an antenna array on the upper side of this substrate.

The AiP configuration based on Flip-Chip Ball Grid Array (FCBGA) entails the attachment of an RF chip on the lower surface of a ball grid array (BGA) substrate, complemented by the formation of an antenna array on the upper side of this substrate.

In today's technological landscape, wireless connectivity is more essential than ever.  Whether it's our smartphones, smart homes, or the Internet of Things (IoT) devices, seamless and efficient wireless communication has become an integral part of our daily lives. One key component driving this connectivity revolution is the Antenna-in-Package (AiP) technology. AiP is poised to revolutionize wireless communication. 

Important AiP Aspects and Related Advantages

AiP Aspect


Space Efficiency

Eliminates the need for external antennas, saving valuable space in compact devices.

Enhanced Wireless Performance

Integrates antennas within semiconductor packages, improving wireless performance and signal quality. 

Cost Reduction

Reduces manufacturing costs by eliminating the need for separate antenna components and simplifying PCB complexity.


AiP can be tailored to suit the unique requirements of different devices and form factors.

Integration Techniques

Utilizes System-in-Package (SiP) technologies with various integration techniques such as double-side molding, selective molding, passive component integration, and electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding.

Leadless Package Advantage

AiP primarily uses leadless packages, which significantly outperform leaded counterparts in terms of size and performance as leadless packages mitigate parasitic effects.

mmWave Spectrum Suitability

AiP technology suits the millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum, which ranges from 10 millimeters (30 GHz) to 1 millimeter (300 GHz).

The Evolution of Antennas

Antennas have come a long way since their inception. From large and and cumbersome, all the way to chip antennas, engineers have been constantly working on miniaturization. However, even these chip antennas have limitations in terms of performance and placement within electronic systems. For this reason, Antenna in Package (AiP) and Antenna on Package (AoP) technologies have become the predominant methods for packaging antennas in various millimeter-wave (mmWave) applications.

Most mobile devices house multiple communication modules responsible for data exchange. In typical 4G devices and sub-6GHz applications, antennas are usually produced as separate components. They are either printed onto the PCB in a specific shape or assembled as individual components near the RF front end chip (transceiver), along with a matching circuit.  Antenna in Package facilitates the integration of RF components and base-band circuitry into a self-contained module. This, in turn, simplifies the tasks of system integrators who are no longer burdened with the intricate design of RF circuits at the application PCB level. The net result is a reduction in the overall size of the application.

How the mmWave Spectrum Suits AiP

With the advent of significantly smaller antennas operating in the mmWave frequencies, it is now feasible to directly integrate the antenna into the mmWave package. The industry is actively working on new IC packages for 5G mmWave, which involves combining the transceiver and the antenna within the same package. This positioning allows the transceiver to be closer to the antenna, enhancing signal strength. Due to physical wavelength constraints, the most suitable, though not exclusive, range for these technologies falls within the millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum. This spectrum encompasses wavelengths ranging from 10 millimeters (30 GHz) to 1 millimeter (300 GHz) and is also referred to as the extremely high frequency (EHF) band by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Concerning signal propagation in the millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum, several factors come into play:

  1. High mmWave frequencies are associated with increased path loss and signal attenuation, resulting in limited signal propagation range.

  2. mmWave signals are prone to being obstructed or blocked by physical objects.

  3. Due to these challenges, mmWave technology often necessitates an array of antenna elements to mitigate these issues, which in turn can occupy a larger footprint within the device.

That said, there is also significant AiP development activity occurring within the 1 to 30 GHz range as well. 

Advantages of the Antenna-in-Package Solution

Antenna-in-Package (AiP) technology is the next step in the evolution of antennas. AiP integrates the antenna into the semiconductor package, eliminating the need for external antennas or additional PCB (Printed Circuit Board) space. This groundbreaking approach offers numerous advantages:

  • AiP technology allows for smaller, more compact devices without sacrificing wireless connectivity. This is particularly valuable in the development of wearables, IoT devices, and increasingly compact smartphones.

  • AiP designs are optimized for the specific device and application, improving wireless performance and signal quality.

  • By eliminating the need for separate antenna components and minimizing the complexity of the PCB, AiP can reduce manufacturing costs.

  • AiP can be customized to suit the unique requirements of different devices and form factors, making it a versatile solution for various applications.

  • The integration of antennas within the semiconductor package can improve the durability and robustness of the device, reducing the risk of antenna damage.

  • Enhanced flexibility in product development diversifies the design options and expedites time-to-market for the product.

AiP Structure and Integration Techniques 

AiP technology allows for one or more antennas to be integrated within an IC package designed to accommodate a bare RF chip or transceiver. This AiP configuration can be expanded by incorporating front-end components such as power amplifiers (PA), low-noise amplifiers (LNA), switches, filters, and even power management integrated circuits (PMIC) to create a comprehensive antenna module. This integration is achieved through System-in-Package (SiP) technologies, employing various techniques such as double-side molding, selective molding, the integration of passive components, and the implementation of electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding.

There must be a seamless connection between the RF System-in-Package (SiP) and the designated antenna within the application. This connection necessitates low insertion loss and impeccable impedance matching to maintain optimal performance. Furthermore, meticulous control of antenna placement becomes crucial to achieve the best possible radiation performance.

Leaded and Leadless AiPs

Within the context of "Antenna-in-Package" (AiP) technology, there are two packaging variations: leaded and leadless. Leaded packages, distinguished by their physical leads, exhibit notable parasitic effects, which can constrain their utility in AiP applications. Conversely, leadless packages, marked by their absence of leads, present a notable advantage in terms of size and performance. Moreover, leadless packages improve performance by mitigating the impact of parasitic effects. Consequently, it is the leadless package that forms the essential foundation for AiP technology.

AiP Packaging and Architecture

A standard AiP configuration, often in the form of a Flip-Chip Ball Grid Array (FCBGA), consists of an RF chip or transceiver securely attached to a package substrate with solder balls for seamless connection to the main PCB. In a Flip-Chip Ball Grid Array (FCBGA) AiP, the RF chip is affixed to the package substrate using solder balls for connection to the main PCB, as illustrated in the figure above. An antenna, or possibly an array of antennas, is positioned on the upper section of the package substrate, facilitating wireless communication and signal reception. 

Ready to harness the power of Antenna-in-Package (AiP) for your wireless projects? Explore the possibilities with Cadence AWR software and take your designs to the next level. Learn more and start optimizing your wireless solutions today.

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