nuturing applied innovation in a fertile environment - a rich mix of technical and social opportunities
Distinguished Engineer, IEEE Fellow
The Cases Group, LLC
P.O. Box 163502, Austin, TX 78716-3502
Following the footsteps of the “Magnificent Seven,” who founded the EPEP topical meeting, I started to get involved with EPEP in 1994 at the meeting held in Monterey, CA. Besides the beauty of the location, I was immediately impressed with the high level of open collaboration among the attendees from academia, industry and government. Although the discussions were always very heated, they always concluded in a positive and productive way. Most of the time, these discussions led to very interesting follow-up research, the generation of innovative ideas and the presentation of new concepts and techniques on subsequent meetings. I vividly recall some of my intense discussions with the late Prof. John Prince regarding the need for tools and methodology for power distribution design and analysis. He always came back with the same remark to me, “Everything that needed to be done for power distribution we have done already” and I always responded with the same remark: “But, I still cannot do a complete simulation and optimization of a practical power distribution system due to its complexity and lack of practical CAD tools.” Conversations like this one have generated new research and development by academia and industry in areas such as packaging structures, modeling concepts, and design techniques. But, in the long run, what the industry needed most were practical and efficient design tools and methodologies. The design engineers were under a lot of pressure, and they still are, to produce one-pass designs that were on-time and at the right cost in order to be competitive in the fast moving marketplace. I was glad to see that these discussions also led to the publication of several books on the topic by well-known researchers and practitioners [1-2] and to the development of specific tools by the suppliers of CAD tool.
On another note, I also nostalgically recall some of the social events where besides having fun and drinking some wine, we were still able to continue or start new discussions. Some unforgettable events that come to my mind are the EPEP 1996 in Napa Valley, CA where we had a venue in a winery with Viennese music (this relaxed atmosphere was very conducive to more open discussions), the EPEP 1999 in San Diego, CA where we had a luau banquet and a boat ride with George Katopis (I almost got knocked off the boat by the sail), and EPEP 1998 in West Point, NY where we had the beautiful boat ride on the Hudson River (a very beautiful fall foliage and a very relaxing setting after a whole day of heated discussions). Following Tawfik Arabi’s tradition that he started during EPEP 2004 in Portland, OR, we also had a dinner gathering at my home during the EPEP 2005 in Austin, TX. It is worthwhile to mention that at this topical meeting we had a pleasantly high number of attendees (225), only surpassed by EPEP 2000 in Scottsdale, AZ (250).
It is interesting to note that since its beginning, the purpose of the conference was to provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of the latest advances in the electrical design, analysis and characterization of on chip and off chip package interconnections and structures covering a wide range of frequencies and applications, namely digital, RF, microwave, optoelectronic, and mm-wave. It brought together researchers and practicing engineers from industry, universities and governments around the world to discuss current and future issues related to the electrical performance of electronic packaging and systems. EPEP was and still is ahead of its time in promoting the development of advanced applied research in packaging structures, modeling techniques, and new design methods and tools. It has been a fertile environment conducive to open, innovative, and constructive collaboration among colleagues from all sectors. Another reason for such a strong opportunity for fruitful technical exchanges among attendees is that the meetings are organized as one-track workshops. This structure coupled with ample break times and social events allows for meaningful group discussions and active participation on the oral and poster presentations.
It is also worthwhile to mention another significant milestone in 1998 that promoted our spirit of competition. We instituted a series of best student paper awards sponsored by industry and later on, an overall conference best paper award was added to the program. These awards were carefully and fairly selected by a committee co-chaired by Tawfik Arabi and myself. It was very rewarding to see the quality and innovation of the students’ papers, as well as the quality of the oral and poster presentations given by the competing students. Another special event that was started in 2001 was the graduate student reception sponsored by industry with the goal to develop and nurture strong synergy between students and industry experts. It was very exciting to see the high energy created at these receptions and the questions raised by the students. It provided an opportunity to meet with seasoned engineers in a relaxed atmosphere where the students had an opportunity to interact with engineers without the pressures associated with a formal job interview.
It is imperative that EPEPS continues to stay ahead of its time in the area of electronic packages and systems providing fertile ground for new and innovative ideas relevant to future needs. These ideas are planted as seeds for prosperous growth and expansion in terms of technical contributions to our society and community as a whole. True innovation comes from open, global and multidisciplinary collaboration. That will be the hallmark of innovation as we move forward. This innovation model enables a bundle of growth opportunities. Success requires open and cross-disciplinary collaboration among academia, government and industry and fusing technical competency with industry-specific knowledge and business-process expertise. Advances in technology related to the computational field have accelerated exponentially driving the cost steadily downward. The price of a computation/second has gone down 15 orders of magnitude in the last century [3-4]. It is interesting to note that every 20 years or so, a new technology emerges to continue this amazing trend. It is a pretty safe bet that the trajectory will continue. As the vacuum tube emerged in the 1950s, the discrete transistor emerged in the 1970s and the integrated circuit emerged in the 1980s, nanotechnology is fast emerging in the 2000s. In the field of electronic packaging, this means technologies such as coplanar waveguides, 3D stacked ICs, embedded optical waveguides and Carbon nanotubes are fast emerging and getting a lot of attention from the industry and the government. But, these technologies need to get to high-volume low-cost production on time to have a positive accelerating impact in the marketplace.
In addition, we should not forget about our tactical needs. Today, ultra high-speed signaling demands new design elements such as signal processing theory, coding techniques, and statistical design (as opposed to worst-case corner design) as system performance enablers. A new high-speed ecosystem is needed that can provide significant speed and bandwidth improvements in the development of electronic devices at wafer, die, package, and system levels at a reasonable cost and time-to-market. For example, the cost of effectively using low-loss dielectric materials, back-drilled vias, and maintaining tight manufacturing tolerances for interconnect structures is still very high. Today’s challenge is to manage the cost effectively without considerably impacting performance and increasing manufacturing process complexity. Henceforth, there are still some improvements in the use of today’s technologies that we can harvest at a reasonable cost and time-to-market.
- M. Swaminathan and A. E. Engin, “Power Integrity Modeling and Design for Semiconductor and Systems”, Prentice Hall Modern Semiconductor Design Series, Prentice Hall Signal Integrity Library, Prentice Hall, 2007
- I. Novak and J. R. Miller, “Frequency-Domain Characterization of Power Distribution Networks”, Artech House Microwave Library, Artech House, 2007
- Raymond Kurzweil, “The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence,” Viking Adult, 1999
- Hans Moravec, “When will computer hardware match the human brain?” Journal of Evolution and Technology, Volume 1, Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, 1998
Bio: Moises Cases has over 39 years of progressive experience in very-large scale integration (VLSI) chip and package designs, in system level electrical and package designs, and in complex project and people management. He retired as a Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor from the IBM Corporation, System and Technology Group in 2009. Mr. Cases was the team leader for system electrical design and integration of modular and blade servers, responsible for signal and power distribution integrity, and system level timings for complex multiple board system designs. Presently, Mr. Cases is the President and CEO of The Cases Group, LLC; a Texas Limited Liability Company dedicated to design and consulting services for electronic systems. He obtained his Master of Science in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University, NY in 1979, Master of Science in Electronic Engineering from New York University, NY in 1973, and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from City College of New York, NY in 1969. Mr. Cases has 78 patents filed, 54 publications in IBM technical disclosure bulletins and 95 refereed publications in various professional manuscripts and conferences. He is a Fellow member of IEEE society and a member of Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu honor societies.
He was the general co-chairman (representing the industry) of the IEEE Electrical Performance of Electronic Packaging (EPEP) workshop for 2005 through 2006, and he was the general chairman of the 1999 IEEE Systems Packaging Workshop. Moises is also an Associate Editor for IEEE CPMT Transactions on Advanced Packaging since 2002. He chaired the electromechanical working group (EWG) for the Infiniband Trade Association (IBTA) from 2003 to 2008. He was also an active member of EWG for PCI SIG from 1993-1998. Mr. Cases has received the Hispanic in Technology Corporate Award from the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) in 2006, the Business/Community Representative of the Year Award from Austin Independent School District (AISD) in 2007, the Albert V. Baez Award from HENAAC in 2007, the Teacher-Engineer Partnership Award from IEEE in 2008, and the Outstanding Sustained Technical Contribution Award from IEEE and CPMT societies in 2009. He was elected to the IBM Academy of Technology in 2008.