The Growing Role Of Extended Supply Chain Collaboration

Failure to ramp yield can have disastrous consequences.

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At the executive keynote panel held at Semicon West 2015, one of the key industry challenges discussed was the growing need for closer collaboration between supply chain partners in order to support the fast time to market and shortened product lifecycles of today’s consumer electronics. Traditionally, the yield ramp phase has been a critical time to resolve manufacturing issues, enable high volume production, capture market share, and accelerate product profitability.

With the rapid pace of new technological developments, product lifecycles are getting shorter and shorter. Product releases of new Apple iPhones, for example, have been on a 12-month drumbeat. As new products get introduced faster and faster, the pressure to accelerate the speed of yield ramp grows.

Failure to properly ramp yield can have disastrous consequences, such as missing a market window, defaulting on customer commitments, or incurring unexpected manufacturing costs. Discovery of yield issues after pilot production bears significant risk. One of the critical steps is identifying the source. Is it the design? Is it the fabrication? Is it the packaging? Is it something else?

Closer collaboration between the three vertices of the supply chain partnership triangle—design, front end manufacturing and back-end manufacturing—could have significant value in accelerating product time to market and minimizing yield ramp risk.

One example of the benefits of closer collaboration is in minimizing Chip Package Interaction (CPI) issues. The relationship between the package and the IC chip is an important one. Some of the materials used in packaging, for example, have different coefficients of thermal expansion than the silicon die. The mismatch of thermal expansion between the die and the packaging can cause stress induced failures. This interaction plays an important role in product reliability.

When back-end manufacturing providers are given access to early silicon or test vehicles from front-end manufacturing supply partners, they can help identify and resolve potential CPI issues earlier in the product schedule.

Early engagement from the design provider also can yield efficiencies in CPI management. When the designer can provide application specific stress conditions for the product, it enables early development of CPI solutions.

Further collaboration can be leveraged during the analysis of test data, when designers can work closely with back end manufacturing to evaluate the results. Faster data analysis can enable designers to make design changes sooner, and shorten the cycles of learning. Cooperation between design, front end manufacturing and back end manufacturing can enable more intelligent learning cycles, accelerating time to market.

Increased cooperation, however, also introduces challenges. As designers, foundries and OSATs share more information with each other, the management of customer information confidentiality becomes more complex.

The rapid pace of new technology development demands that semiconductor supply chain supports faster product introduction cycles. To do this, supply chain partners will need to work closely together, share information and engage with each other earlier in the design cycle. They will need to anticipate unexpected issues, and then collaborate to identify new solutions.

As an industry association, SEMI serves an important role in helping to facilitate industry collaboration. Moving forward, connecting and collaborating will be one of our key themes. At Semicon West 2016, for example, we’ll be introducing several new programs aimed at extending the audience to include new segments that reach much deeper into the supply chain. We will also be exploring the topic of extended supply chain cooperation at our industry forum and conferences.

Industry collaboration will be one of the themes of the 2016 Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS), which will be held Jan. 100 – 13 in Half Moon Bay, California. After Sessions 1 – 3, which will cover economic trends, market perspectives and new technology, Session 4 will focus on Collaboration Towards Success. The executive panel at the close of the session will examine today’s challenges in making the transition from research to manufacturing.

Now in its 39th year, the ISS presents visionary perspectives covering market, technology, and manufacturing, with significant impact on the momentum of our business and the future of our dynamic industry. We hope that you can join us in January as we preview a new era of collaboration between semiconductor supply chain partners.