EE Times reports chip-packaging firms are turning to copper wirebonding technology. Currently, about 90 percent of today's chips use gold wiring, but the increasing value of gold has prompted chip makers to ramp up copper wirebonding technology, as this type of bonding is up to 30 percent less expensive than gold in the overall IC-assembly process. According to estimates, about 70 percent of all devices packaged via wirebonding will use copper instead of gold by 2013 or so.
Compared to gold-based bonding, copper-enabled wirebonding could reduce overall IC packaging costs by a whopping 20-to-30 percent, said Christian Rheault, senior vice president of marketing at wirebonding equipment giant Kulicke & Soffa Industries Inc. (K&S).
This, in turn, translates into a ''5 percent step reduction’’ in terms of the average price drop for a single chip, Rheault said.
The shift to copper bonding could also enable cheaper end-user products like cell phones, PCs and others, but it also has some chilling ramifications. The cheaper copper bonding process could take a bite out of margins and sales for the IC industry, meaning that the chip landscape is possibly due for another ''structural change,’’ he added.