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Developing the Backbone of the Internet of Things

Companies face hardware challenges in making the millions of sensors and gateways that enable the growing connected ecosystem.
By William Chen

What Are the Options?
As we continue to push forward, companies looking to build devices for the Internet of Things have a few options available to them. As mentioned above, SoC has been around for a while and is used in a variety of different applications—specifically with more-advanced, higher-priced wearables. But at the same time, it can be cost-prohibitive. While large wearable companies can invest more than $150 million into the development of an SoC, many companies making smaller devices won't have the ROI to justify such an investment.

Instead, more companies are starting to look at options such as system-in-a-package (SiP). This can be defined as a package or module that contains a functional electronic system or subsystem that is integrated and miniaturized through IC assembly technologies. Essentially, the subsystems are made up of individual dies that are manufactured separately, each using the most cost-effective node. With it, companies can achieve necessary functionalities in a miniaturized package for the system end user in an effective way.

Not only is SiP a cost-effective alternative to SoC, but many companies are finding that its benefits run much deeper. Some specific benefits that will directly impact the IoT include the ability to develop smaller and simplified system boards, improved signal integrity, reduced power consumption and decreased component size and thickness.

In the end, we cannot accurately predict how the Internet of Things will evolve during the coming years, but we can know that things will continue to become more connected. Whether it's the potential for connected cities, or the variety of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMs) and sensors already being installed in vehicles, the push toward the IoT is coming. We believe that push will ride on the backs of technologies such as SiP.

William (Bill) Chen currently holds the position of ASE Fellow and senior technical advisor at ASE Group. Bill also chairs SEMI's Advanced Packaging Committee and the newly formed Heterogeneous Integration Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, an initiative addressing technologies for the IoT, IoE and cloud-computing era, jointly sponsored by IEEE CPMT, SEMI and EDS.

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