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SoC vs. SiP: Highlighting the changing mobile, IoT space

Posted: 13 Oct 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SoC  SiP  IoT  wearable  big data 

For quite some time, smartphones have been the impetus for innovation in both the IC and electronic industries. However, as the smartphone market slowly matures, other connected devices and systems are making bigger waves, which largely result in global transformation within the eras of the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and data analytics, to the cloud.

Also advancing quickly are wearables, connected vehicles, advanced robotics, intelligent factories, digital medical care and health care, smart homes and smart cities. Going forward, what will be the technology requirements in these areas? And how will our industry come together to respond in meeting these requirements?

On the 50th anniversary of Gordon Moore's paper introducing Moore's Law, these disruptive changes in the fast-moving, consumer-driven market landscape call for a refocusing and broadening of the semiconductor industry's technical direction. This includes the reinterpretation of the promise of integration, from homogeneous integration (scaling) and SoC to heterogeneous integration and System-in-Package (SiP).

SoC technology is well-established and has consistently played a major role, particularly in the mobile market, by delivering powerful single silicon device solutions, often brandishing smaller form factors and lower power consumption. Traditionally, SoC solutions have been driven by IC design houses or system companies seeking to incorporate complete system features including processors, memory, peripherals and input/outputs (I/Os) built upon a single silicon substrate. Moore's Law scaling that incorporates billions of transistors onto a single chip has been particularly advantageous for SoCs with regard to delivering lower cost and higher density silicon integration.

SiP module packaging provides an alternative and complementary solution to SoC for system integration, miniaturisation and optimisation while reducing development time, design cost, time to market and total cost of ownership. The sophistication of consumer products emerging today demands more diverse functionality, logic, memory, MEMs, sensors, mixed signal, RF, power and passives, integrated into a single package with a smaller and lighter form factor. Besides the traditional SoC solutions, SiP is increasingly being explored and implemented by design houses and system companies to meet new requirements for their product development.

SoC vs. SiP

Today's reality leverages complementary and parallel integration paths for both SoC and SiP technologies. Moore's Law continues into advanced nodes benefiting SoC performance and density. However, with an industry broadly acknowledging that Moore's Law economics is slowing, SiP module-based heterogeneous integration of separately manufactured devices with rich functionalities provides a strong value proposition for miniaturised, rapid NPI, cost-sensitive applications and product differentiation. The broad-based application market is fast-evolving, and future growth points to ultra-small devices being developed for applications within the IoT, wearable and mobile markets. Further, rapid growth of big data, data analytics, and cloud computing is driving the need for an alternative integration path, SiP heterogeneous integration, where bandwidth, latency and power challenges are prominent.

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