The Impact of Miniaturization on Hardware Design

The Impact of Miniaturization on Hardware Design

Written by Alison Lurie, In Technology, Published On
April 11, 2024

In the always-changing world of technology, the push to make things smaller has dramatically affected how hardware is made. In this drive, it’s just as essential to make things smaller as they are to make them more functional, efficient, and easy to connect. Every business, from medical devices and aeroplane parts to wearable electronics and cellphones, has seen successes and failures because of the constant push to cut costs.

Miniaturization: A new way of looking at design

The holy grail of miniaturization in hardware design is giving things more functions while taking up less room. Designers and builders must change their gear to fit this new world. Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), better semiconductor materials, and three-dimensional (3D) stacking help the field get smaller and circumvent physical limits.

Points To Consider About Miniaturization on Hardware Design

When things get smaller, they usually have problems controlling heat, ensuring signals work right, bringing power to them, and making sure they are made accurately.

  • Dissipation of Heat: When parts are too close to each other, they can overheat, which can hurt performance and dependability. To fix this issue, we need new ways to handle heat, like micro-fluidic cooling and better materials for heat sinks.
  • Ensure the signal’s integrity: Interference between signals is easier to see at more minor scales. Designers must be careful with layout and use shielding to keep messages intact.
  • Power supply: We need new ways to handle power to make the power supply work well in very close circuits. This includes using technology that collects energy and making gadgets that use less power.
  • Accuracy in Manufacturing: Cutting-edge lithography and fabrication methods are needed to make tiny parts with the required level of accuracy. These methods push the edges of possible feature size and tolerance.
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BGA Comes Out

For many of us, creating and routing the BGA by hand might take a long time and lead to mistakes. Our plans need to be efficient, or we’ll add layers that aren’t required. This increases costs, and we all know that our budget isn’t growing. For many current BGAs, the via capture pads are usually placed diagonally. You must have seen this before from a dog bone fanout. However, it is becoming more apparent that dog bone fanout isn’t always a good choice. Why is this? Because of the pins’ small pitch, there isn’t always enough room to add those vias. To break out these BGAs, we need a via-in-pad method. This makes signal routing possible on a higher level and happens when the via is directly linked to the pad.

Use HDI to make the material denser.

How can you make a smaller PCB with more parts, lines, and complexity without adding more layers? Before your ideas get too small, think about this. Using high-density interconnect (HDI) printed circuit boards is one way to solve this problem. These printed circuit boards have more tracks and pads than a “normal” PCB. They are called HDI boards. Micro vias, blind vias, and hidden vias are common types. Every part on these circuit boards is tiny, including the lines, spacing, capture pads, etc. One benefit of HDI boards is that they make devices smaller and lighter. They can also improve their electricity performance. But there are some terrible things about them that you should know about. This can be seen in fewer parts and less room between them.

Take on the Problems with the Layout

Cutting down on technology, whether printed circuit boards, integrated circuits, or transistors, is not easy. We shouldn’t avoid problems, though. Instead, we should welcome them with open arms because new problems always allow us to think of new ways to solve them. This white paper explains the issues with present PCB plans and how to fix them.

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Benefits Of Miniaturization on Hardware Design

There are some problems with miniaturization but also many significant benefits.

  • Miniaturization has made it possible to combine many functions into a single device, creating multifunctional devices and systems that are more useful and convenient than ever before.
  • Smaller, lighter gadgets have made it easier to move around and wear them, which has helped in health, exercise, and remote monitoring, among other areas.
  • Most smaller gadgets use less power, meaning their batteries last longer and use less energy overall. This efficiency level is significant for making technology solutions that will last.
  • As miniaturization technologies improve, the cost of highly integrated devices decreases. This means that more people may be able to buy advanced technology.

Challenges of Miniaturization

  • Two of the biggest problems in miniaturization are controlling heat and making ball grid arrays (BGAs) that work well for parts with many pins. Additionally, adding more parts, pins, and links gets harder as boards get smaller.
  • Printed circuit boards (PCBs) have kept their general size the same over the past ten years to keep things small, but the number of leads per square inch has tripled. The average number of board parts has also grown four times in the same fifteen years.
  • Miniaturization depends on adding more transistor nodes to smaller integrated circuits (ICs) and using modern electronic assembly methods to connect these ICs in systems that can do the work that needs to be done.

Tricks and Solutions

  • High-Density Interconnect (HDI) printed circuit boards are needed for miniaturization. These boards have more tracks and pads than regular printed circuit boards. Micro vias and these vias, which can be hidden or buried, make it possible for smaller, lighter parts to work better electrically.
  • Ball Grid Arrays (BGAs) are used to make integrated circuit packages that allow many links between the IC and the PCB. This makes chips more reliable, prevents them from overheating, and increases the system’s working power.
  • A wafer makes small integrated circuits (ICs) cut into more minor chips. These are known as wafer-level chip scale packages (WLCSPs). Using these is a common way to miniaturize and lets things get smaller without losing function.
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The Future of Miniaturization

As materials science, nanotechnology, and quantum computing continue to improve, the way is being cleared for even smaller and more powerful gadgets. This is a good sign for the future of hardware design. Researchers are looking into 2D materials to see if they can be used to make atomic-scale devices. This could have a significant impact on the electronics business. Graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are two examples of these materials. The movement toward downsizing, which is happening simultaneously with technological advances, has brought up questions about sustainability and the impact of electronic waste on the environment. The business is putting more and more effort into making products that are smaller, more efficient, and easier to recycle.

To sum up

Miniaturization is dramatically changing the way hardware is made, leading to new ideas in all technology areas. As we push the limits of what is physically possible, the difficulties of downsizing push us to develop new ways to make gadgets more efficient, useful, and easy to integrate. We want to break through physical limits and need smaller and smaller gadgets. This is reflected in the never-ending march toward miniaturization, opening up exciting new hardware design options.

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