John Cowles, Senor Director of Technology and Jon Bentley, EMEA Marketing Director, Aerospace & Defense
As we get past the major disruptions to daily life and business supply chains caused by the Covid pandemic, we face a macro-economic down-turn and multiple regional conflicts. The national importance of semiconductor technology and its impact on key infrastructure and military capabilities continue to drive the trends for 2023.
Advanced Packaging and Hetero-integration: Much of the activity and discussion in 2022 was around semiconductor manufacturing. For 2023, we expect advanced packaging to get increased focus, complementing the onshoring of semis. For many high-performance applications, the System-on-Chip (SoC) approach may require too many technical compromises while the development times and costs might not be justified in most cases where volumes are lower. The ability to co-package multiple die performing different functions, possibly in different technologies, as Systems-in-Package (SiPs) represents a fundamental shift away from the monolithic integration paradigm of the past decades. Achieving this level will require packaging capabilities that can pack these so-called “chiplets” laterally and vertically using redistribution layers and interposers on the scale of semiconductors that provide near monolithic interconnections. While most of the traditional high-volume packaging is well served in Asia, advanced hetero-integration for medium volumes and prototyping will blossom on-shore to address key applications of national importance.
Many applications not only in Aerospace and Defense will become more and more Size and Power constrained and being able to integrate multiple die, providing a high performance signal chain solution in a single package, is an attractive option to designers. As mentioned above the possibility of mixing multiple technologies on a single substrate enabling the best process to be used for each stage of the signal chain offers the ability to integrate functionalities that would otherwise not be possible with a SOC monolithic solution. In addition, using innovative iPassives technology minimizes the use of external passive components and optimizes system level characteristics such as gain and offset drift of the signal chain. Integrated Power micro modules (µModules) are another example of a SiP solution. A uModule integration simplifies the implementation, verification and manufacturing of power circuits by integrating these functions into a single package and with advanced packaging technology thermal challenges are managed and high performance can be maintained over temperature. All in all, the use of SiP or uModule technologies will continue to grow and expand into new applications driven by increasing needs for reducing design time and hence time to market, optimizing performance and board real estate and cost of ownership.
The Growth of the Intelligent Edge: The unprecedented growth of cloud computing is finally hitting a wall. The data traffic has been increasing exponentially with the proliferation of remote nodes, challenging the throughput capacity to the cloud. Furthermore, many critical applications cannot tolerate the latency associated with cloud access and processing. Finally, security is a growing concern that discourages outside command and control. The response will be to empower the remote nodes to be more autonomous and make the most pressing decisions locally using AI and machine learning techniques. Bringing intelligence back to the edge will require more computational capability with different levels of flexibility and parallelism, depending on the needs. Full solutions will need to not only include the sensor, analog processing and digitization; they will require heavier digital processing with a thoughtful mix of microcontrollers, FPGAs, hardware accelerators and hardened DSP, complex software stacks and near complete autonomy.
There are significant advantages to analyzing data and developing solutions at the node or site where the data is generated. Reduced latency, device processing, optimizing bandwidth, cost and security mitigation all contribute to maximizing a systems effectiveness and efficiency with analysis of the data collected being performed faster and decisions on the data taken more quickly. 5G infrastructure expansion will drive demand for edge computing as Infrastructure vendors and Cloud Service providers combine edge computing capabilities with 5G network resources to enable new use cases. Outside of IT, Telecoms and Cloud Services where edge computing is being leveraged today, we predict that the Intelligent edge will start to gain presence in applications associated with Security, Avionics, Defense and Space in the coming years.
Expansion of Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles: Both the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have highlighted the impact that UAVs can have. Drones and robots that warehouse and deliver packages and cargo are facilitating e-commerce while military drones are upsetting conventional military supremacy in the battlefield. As an example with the goal of reducing the human element in the battlefield and being able to take more accurate decisions based on data collected from surveillance drones have contributed to the growth in UAVs for Military use and this will continue. In the future drones for Military use will integrate extended capabilities and integrate A.I enabling more autonomy. The greatest promise is the possibility that electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft will efficiently transport cargo and passengers over short distances. As regulatory hurdles are cleared, technologies that ensure safe navigation, monitor the electric propulsion systems and maintain contact with ground stations through multiple links are all maturing. We expect that technology developed for the electrification of cars will play a disproportionate role in connecting and powering the various sys-systems, from battery management to collision avoidance radars, to high data rate distribution on a common bus. Much like automobiles, these UAV’s will become more like mobile data centers with plug-in sensors and accessories than classic aircraft. The battery and battery management system (BMS) are a key technology for eVTOL. Improvements in both are leading to further developments in electric aircraft technology with Lithium-ion batteries able to offer improved energy storage and delivery. With advancements in BMS technology and with investments in both continuing we expect these ongoing developments to gather speed in the next year.