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All About IC Packaging

Key Takeaways

  • Packaging is the final stage of semiconductor fabrication, protecting and connecting devices with electrical, mechanical, and economic considerations.

  • Different IC package types exist, including through-hole and surface mount technology, each with its own characteristics and mounting styles.

  • Designing IC packaging requires optimizing signal transmission, heat dissipation, and protection while considering materials, cost, and interconnection with PCBs.

Quad Flat package image

Quad Flat package, one of the many IC packaging types discussed below

Integrated circuit (IC) packaging is the final phase of semiconductor device fabrication. During this stage, a protective case encloses the semiconductor material, shielding it against physical harm and corrosion. This case, commonly known as a "package," is a foundation for the electrical contacts that establish connections between the device and a circuit board. This process is frequently denoted as packaging within the integrated circuit industry, while alternative terms such as semiconductor device assembly, assembly, encapsulation, or sealing are also used.

Through Hole IC Package Types

Surface Mount Technology IC Package Types

  • Dual inline
  • Single inline
  • Pin grid
  • Flat package
  • SOIC
  • Chip Scale
  • BGA
  • Multi-chip Package
  • Area array packages

IC Packaging Crash Course

There are two primary categories for distinguishing IC package types based on their mounting style: Through-hole and Surface Mount Technology (SMT). 

The most common through-hole IC packaging technology are single-inline and dual-inline packages. The dual inline package features two rows of electrical pins positioned along the horizontal edges of a rectangular IC component. This package type can be mounted to a circuit board using a through-hole method or a socket.

Surface Mount IC Packaging Types

Surface-mount technology involves the direct placement or mounting of electronic components onto the surface of a printed circuit board. Surface mount components are typically smaller than through-hole components due to their smaller leads or lack of leads altogether. 

  • Pin grid array (PGA) packages are designed for socketing and feature pins arranged in a square or rectangular grid, forming rows and columns on the underside of the package in a matrix format. These packages utilize tiny pins to establish connections and come in various variants distinguished by the array arrangement and the number of connections. Examples include Ceramic Pin Grid Array (CPGA), Plastic Pin Grid Array (PPGA), Staggered Pin Grid Array (SPGA), Flip Chip Pin Grid Arrays (FCPGA), and Organic Pin Grid Array.

  • Flat packages, on the other hand, have two or four rows of terminals positioned along the edges of the integrated circuit. These packages commonly employ a surface-mount mounting style, with leads exhibiting L-shapes, J-shapes, or being entirely absent, in which case they are known as leadless terminals. 

Effects of Vortex Shedding on Marine Structures

  • QFP (Quad Flat Package),
  • TQFP (Thin Quad Flat Package)
  • STQFP (Small Thin Quad Plastic Flat Package),
  • QFJ (Quad Flat J-leaded Package),
  • FQFP (Fine-pitch Quad Flat Package)
  • LPQFP (Low Profile Quad Flat Package)
  • VQFP (Very Small Quad Flat Package)
  • ETQFP (Exposed Thin Quad Flat Package)
  • PQFN (Power Quad Flat Pack)
  • PQFP (Plastic Quad Flat Package),
  • QFN (Quad Flat Non-leaded Package).
  • Small Outline Integrated Circuits (SOICs) are characterized by a thin rectangular shape with small pins positioned along the horizontal edges. These packages, commonly found in RAM and flash memory ICs, are surface-mount and have gull-wing leads or ceramic molding. The pins extend in an L shape from both sides of the body, with the leads protruding from the longer edge of the package. Variants include SOJ (Small Outline J-Leaded Package), TSOP (Thin Small Outline Package), SSOP (Shrink Small Outline Package), TSSOP (Thin Shrink Small Outline Package), QSOP (Quarter-size Small Outline Package), and VSOP (Very Small Outline Package).

  • Chip-scale packages (CSPs) are single-die packages that can be directly surface mounted and have an area smaller than 1.2 times the die's area. Variants of CSPs include Customized Leadframe-based CSP (LFCSP), Flexible substrate-based CSP, Flip-chip CSP (FCCSP), Rigid substrate-based CSP, and Wafer-level redistribution CSP (WL-CSP).

  • Ball grid array (BGA) packages, commonly found in computer equipment, allow the entire bottom surface to mount since the ball connections cover the entire surface. BGAs offer high speeds due to the shorter ball connections. Examples of BGA variants include MAPBGA (Moulded Array Process Ball Grid Array), PBGA (Plastic Ball Grid Array), TEPBGA (Thermally Enhanced Plastic Ball Grid Array), TBGA (Tape Ball Grid Array), PoP (Package on Package), and MicroBGA.

  • Multi-chip packages integrate multiple ICs, discrete components, and semiconductor dies onto a substrate.

Ball Grid Array package

Ball Grid Array package

IC Packaging Design Considerations

Electrical considerations play a crucial role in the design of integrated circuit packaging. The traces that carry electrical current from the die through the package and into the printed circuit board (PCB) exhibit different properties than on-chip signals. These traces require special design techniques and consume more power than signals confined within the chip. Therefore, it is essential for the materials used as electrical contacts to possess characteristics such as low resistance, low capacitance, and low inductance. The package's structure and materials must prioritize efficient signal transmission while minimizing any parasitic elements that could negatively impact the signal.

In addition to electrical considerations, mechanical and thermal factors are vital in integrated circuit packaging. The package must be resilient enough to resist physical breakage, prevent moisture ingress, and facilitate effective heat dissipation from the chip. The package often needs to provide electromagnetic interference shielding for RF applications to preserve circuit performance and prevent adverse effects on neighboring circuits. Furthermore, the package must enable the interconnection of the chip with a PCB. Package materials can be plastic (thermoset or thermoplastic), metal (commonly Kovar), or ceramic. 

Economic considerations also factor into the selection of integrated circuit packaging. The cost plays a significant role, with inexpensive plastic packages typically dissipating heat up to 2W, which is suitable for many simpler applications. In contrast, ceramic packages can dissipate up to 50W in the same scenario. As chips become smaller and faster, they generate more heat, making efficient heat dissipation a critical consideration.

Are you looking for the ideal package designer for your integrated circuit (IC) packaging needs? Look no further than Allegro X Advanced Package Designer. With its comprehensive features and capabilities, Advanced Package Designer is the perfect tool to assist you in designing and optimizing your IC packages. Whether you are working with through-hole or surface mount technology, Allegro X Advanced Package Designer provides the necessary tools to ensure optimal electrical performance.

Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. To learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts.