When we started planning this issue, I found an interesting tidbit of information: Electronics packaging predates the printed circuit board. Most electronics history buffs seem to agree that the Braun Tube of 1897, the forerunner of the cathode ray tube, was the first true electronics package.
Aren’t you glad you don’t have to place a glass package on your next board? (But glass may be making a comeback, this time as an interposer in packaging. More on that later.)
Over the past 60 years, packages have continued to shrink. The transistor outline “metal cans” of the 1950s would look out of place today. Some packages are no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence, complete with their own “inhalation warning.”
Now, more types of packages than ever before that can be mounted on today’s PCBs. It can be hard to keep this alphabet soup of packages straight: QFN, QFP, SOT, TSSOP, PDIP, WLCSP, BGA, FPBGA, SOIC, PoP, COF, WLP, FOWLP, and a few dozen more, I’m sure.
Designers wind up having to deal with these packages, and each package has its own pros and cons. For instance, the BGA is known for its densely packed array of pins, with large BGAs often boasting 3,000 pins, or more. But routing a 3,000-pin BGA can be a mind-numbing task for a PCB designer.
Luckily for designers, most of today’s EDA tools feature some package design capabilities, with package design integrated into the usual PCB layout tool. But the package landscape continues to shift, and packages are likely to keep getting smaller and denser as technologies such as IoT and 5G take hold.
For this issue of Design007 Magazine, we asked a variety of package experts to share their opinions about the component package trends of today and tomorrow, as well as some of the drivers behind this evolution. In our first feature interview, Chuck Bauer of TechLead Corporation explains some of the trends he’s seeing in packages, such as fan-out wafer-level and 3D packaging, and the need for new packaging technologies to be scalable and cost-effective. Next, Tom Hausherr provides one of the most exhaustive collections of standard PCB components that I’ve seen, complete with package size codes and dimensions.
To read this entire column, which appeared in the August 2018 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.