PCIM 2015: Is ‘Marketing […] sometimes going faster than R&D’?:

Semikron power module skin technology

I remember a story told recently by a famous French writer. He was visiting North Korea as the next plot of his novel is happening there. As it’s not a very free country, a guide was with him all along. He asked him: “ Can we visit this building over there”. The guide replied: “Yes, we can do that tomorrow”.

The next day he asks the guide: “So what about the building we will visit”.

And the guide replying all naturally and logically: “I already told you yesterday that we will visit it tomorrow…”

So, I’m not implying that power electronics is like North Korea, not at all. But the story is all related to a very specific logic (or non logic) that looks a bit like marketing: I asked about products availability during the show. I’ve been told that “It will be available next year”. Really?

A wise man told me during these three days that “Marketing is sometimes going faster than R&D”. And I think that this is the best quote I heard during the PCIM exhibition this year.

PCIM, the power electronics place-to-be:

I have been following PCIM conferences for a few years, and I can tell you that they are always a place to be.

Great announcements are made, and daily product release is a standard. We had our set of product releases and announcements for this issue as well:

  • ExaGaN paving their way to GaN FET production with X-Fab
  • Infineon talking about stack monitoring with MIPAQ
  • Infineon also announcing their OptiMOS® production on 12” wafers, at the same time as their new CoolMOS®. (Personally, I see a full strategy towards smaller AC/DC consumer adapters!)
  • And many more…

So we have had the entertainment and technology advancements that we were expecting, as usual.

The venue was great, with more and more companies, bigger booth and very nice set-up: Did you see Hitachi’s Cherry-blossom edition IGBT module?

But besides the positive mind that we all have; I thought about what was going on in the past, and should be here today.

Semikron Skin and Infineon .XT technology: They are arriving… one day

I missed the 2014 edition of PCIM.

With this gap, you have a different point of view, and this is the point of view I want to share in this article.

Four years ago, Semikron released their SKiN technology: A thin foil of polyimide together with foils of copper replaced the wirebonding, and was sintered on the top of the dies. Double sided sintering; this seemed like a “revolution” (as some old friend of mine named Steeve would say!), and we expected a lot from this technology. It came with a heavy marketing campaign, which included at the time, sexy booth girls in tight suit handing out flyers (I could not find pictures… Sorry.)

At the same time every body was talking about Silver sintering, about Copper wires or diffusion soldering (especially Infineon) and about other great packaging technologies that could change the face of the world (or at least the face of the power electronics world).

I, personally, was expecting some fancy stuff again this year.

We had no heavy marketing campaigns, no astonishing announcements, but we had no real news from previous technologies either. And that’s a bit surprising.

I have to say that I was a bit disappointed: No word about Skin at Semikron booth. I have been told that it is not ready yet. No picture, no presentation, no nothing. .XT technology should be ready “next year”, which was already the case in 2013. Most press releases I could read were unclear about products availability.

Semikron roadmap showing Skin technology in 2011

Semikron roadmap 2005-2011 showing SKiN technology date at 2011. Courtesy of Semikron.

And nothing else than wire bonding, some material suppliers (like Alpha alent) showing Silver paste under many forms, a bit of copper here or there, and a lot of people selling power modules for automotive (Are there so many hybrid cars on our roads?).

I was already a bit suspicious about product announcements and technology press release, promising another revolution.

With time, It seems very true to me that “Marketing is sometimes going faster than R&D”. What about innovations to be available next year?

2 replies
  1. Louis Burgyan says:

    Good points! Yes, marketing sometimes overpromises, particularly in our “googleized” world; however, the real question is: are those Ag sintered Semicron products delivered to the customers or not? As far as I know they are.

  2. Alex AVRON says:

    Hi Louis,

    Ag sintering process is well established and available from Semikron, but also Danfoss and some other power module packaging players. On the other side, double sided Ag Sintering like Semikron’s marketing presented it 2011 does not seem to be delivered yet: A lot of noise for something we’re still waiting…


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