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IBM Journal of Research and Development  
Volume 32, Number 5, Page 636 (1988)
Electronic Packaging
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Physical limits to the useful packaging density of electronic systems

by R. F. Pease, O.-K. Kwon
Increasing the density of electronic circuits and systems has been a major thrust for many years; the benefits are increased speed, reduced power-delay product, and reduced cost. Most of this effort has been directed toward the chip, but during the last decade system performance has been increasingly limited by packaging, and so emphasis has been shifting in that direction. Initially it was believed that heat dissipation was a serious fundamental limit, but advances in heat-sink technology have effectively eliminated that concern. One of the most serious problems is signal distribution. Although we can fabricate submicron metal lines, such lines are not normally practical as chip-to-chip interconnections because their resistance leads to undue signal delay and distortion; increasing their aspect ratio will increase cross talk. It is not clear what constitutes an optimal configuration, but for metals at room temperature a signal-line pitch of 30 to 40 μm appears practical. For low temperatures, and especially for superconducting lines, the pitch could be made very much finer, leading to greatly improved system density.
Related Subjects: Cooling; Packaging; Semiconductor technology