ENCQOR 5G: IBM technology driving 5G component Innovation

Étienne Lemieux, Business Unit Manager

As one of the five anchor partners of the ENCQOR 5G program, IBM Canada provides the packaging technology solutions required to support the next generation of 5G components.   IBMs success in this application space is driven by its long history of microelectronics assembly knowhow intermixed with new innovative photonics packaging technologies.  The emergence of the 5G infrastructure puts pressure on the component vendors to provide high bandwidth data communications solutions that are energy efficient, have a competitive price point and are scalable in both volumes and bandwidth performance.

Over the past couple of decades, the microelectronics industry has made extensive use of assembly automation and design for manufacturability to provide low cost, high volume products and it is this knowhow that IBM is leveraging to develop their photonics assembly technologies.  To meet the high bandwidth metric, silicon photonics, with its use of single mode optical signals and the ability to do wave division multiplex make it the perfect choice.  Energy efficiency will be achieved by packaging the optical functionality with the electronic functionality within the same module.  This is now being referred to as co-packaged optics by the industry.

IBM photonics assembly portfolio starts with two innovative packaging processes for the direct connection of optical signals to the photonics IC.  These two processes are 1) edge coupling using fiber arrays in v-grooves and 2) adiabatic coupling using a polymer ribbon.  Both processes are complementary and provide options pending on the type of package and the photonics IC fabrication source.  Both processes are developed with passive self alignment schemes and make use of automated high throughput assembly tools.  Some of the ongoing work activities are to improve manufacturability of the processes and demonstrate the necessary reliability results.  Significant focus is also on integrating these processes with the rest of the microelectronics assembly needed to be able to build a full functional module.  The synergy between the photonics and microelectronics processes are of great importance for module assembly of the components required by the 5G infrastructure.

For more information on IBM’s participation in the ENCQOR 5G program, please contact Étienne Lemieux (elemieux@ca.ibm.com).