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Celebrating our 11th consecutive year!
   

The 11th annual Fleck Connection Congress was held September 27-30, 1999, at the Marriott Camelback Inn resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. The event was sponsored by Fleck Research and Global Connections, divisions of Global Connector Research Group.

The conference—which included the Fleck Materials Seminar and five interconnect industry workshops—was attended by over 200 of the industry’s senior executives.

This issue of the Fleck Report summarizes seventeen of the pertinent issues and topics addressed by the senior executives who were speakers at FCC.


1999 FCC Speakers (Listed in Presentation sequence)

This year’s distinguished group of industry executives was composed of the following speakers, listed in order of presentation:

Summary of Seventeen Pertinent Issues and Topics

Only brief summaries of the seventeen pertinent issues and topics presented by the industry executives at FCC’99 are presented below. Speakers provided significant insight related to business, market, product, manufacturing processes and technology. Remarks made during respective speeches were in many cases “off the record”. As a result, only attendees at FCC and FMS were exposed to this expanded data.

The seventeen pertinent issues and topics are summarized below in the same sequence as the speakers on the program.



Avnet Prominent in Globalization Efforts

Avnet's Steve Church—who is responsible for the sales, marketing and financial performance of Avnet's components business worldwide—noted that his distribution company operates in 59 countries. "Suppliers recognized the value of offshore markets and customers followed suit," he stated. "Distributors went global to service multinational customers."

Church declared that technology brings down the barriers of international commerce and singled out the Internet as the principal factor. "The Internet is not just another enabling technology," he said. "It is a quantum leap."

Globalization comes with a price, he noted, citing the increased competition that accompanies significant new market opportunities. "Companies must leverage international partnerships," he said. "There is an enormous financial and technical demand on distributors."

Church cited his company's recent acquisition of Marshall Industries as "the largest merger in the history of electronics distribution." He noted that Avnet now is the largest distributor in the Americas and boasts global sales of $8.1 billion. The company, doing business as Avnet EMEA, is number two in Europe.

With consolidation, Church declared, the "fewer, stronger" trend continues. Fewer, stronger distributors are competing for the larger global market, supplying more services at lower margins. He pointed out that the top 10 distributors made up 80.7% of total North American sales of $27.2 billion in 1998, with Avnet and Arrow Electronics combining for over 45% of that market with the next three distributors—VEBA, Pioneer-Standard and Future—holding a combined market share of 25%.

Avnet IMS is riding the wave of collaboration, Church said, with industry-leading sales of $1.6 billion and a 45.46% CAGR growth over five years. The rule of play in the distribution industry, he declared, is "collaborate to dominate."



FCI and the Communications Market

Philippe Anglaret, who has headed FCI for the past two years, spent most of his professional life with Alcatel, most recently as managing director of the Project and Services Group and the Industrial Equipment Group within Cegelec, an Alcatal subsidiary.

His present company is divided into two core business, energy and interconnect, each supplying 50% of the firm’s revenues, which totaled US$ 3.7 billion in 1998. FCI ranks second only to AMP among the world’s top 10 connector manufacturers.

“FCI has grown by acquisitions,” Anglaret stated, pointing to the company’s takeovers of Berg Electronics in 1998 and several European companies over the past 10 years. The company now maintains a presence in 58 countries, with manufacturing units in 23.

In communications, FCI is most active in the I/O connector and PCB connector markets, deriving 45% and 30%, respectively of its revenue from those areas. Some 40% of the company’s worldwide sales are in the Americas and communications occupies 36% of FCI sales by market segment.

“Telecom companies are buying their way into datacom,” Anglaret said, noting that Nortel Networks, Lucent Technologies, Alcatel, Ericsson, Siemens, Marconi and Nokia all have acquired datacom operations in recent years. Meanwhile, datacom companies—such as Cisco, 3Com, Ascend and Cabletron—are completing their product portfolios through acquisitions.

Among the packaging trends in the interconnection market, Anglaret stated, are higher packaging density, excellent signal integrity, lower applied cost and lower costs of ownership. Demands by OEMs from the interconnect suppliers are increasing, and include world-class quality and reliability, a global presence, full product portfolio and value-added capability.

FCI is the largest telecom provider with a global presence and a leading integrated solution provider, he said, noting that the trend to outsourcing will modify relationships between interconnect suppliers and OEMs and that consolidation and convergence in the industry will put emphasis on cost and time to market.

“New emphasis on supply chain management requires alliances and partnerships among OEMs, interconnect suppliers and contract manufacturers,” Anglaret declared, noting that value-added business will be a major demand in the coming years, involving the different players of the industry



Technological Changes at Tyco Electronics (AMP)

Gregory Johnson from Tyco (AMP) spoke on the interconnect industry’s response to technology drivers, noting that his company has been active in anticipating the needs of the future and delivering expertise, technology and hardware to make tomorrow’s advances work.

While acknowledging that “headlines in the interconnection world seem to revolve around business developments (Tyco’s recent acquisitions of AMP, Raychem, Elcon and Siemens), the enduring stories of excitement and reward in our business continue to be the way the engineering community provides innovative answers to the challenges facing our customers.

“Our compatriots in the rest of the electronics industry have recognized the importance of connection technology,” Johnson stated. “More than ever before, we are devoting our attention to providing connections that are precisely tuned for electrical performance within narrow limits. We also are seeing optics move farther into the heart of systems for signal transport in emerging optical and terabit networking systems.”

Johnson pointed out that speed and bandwidth continue to be the performance drivers for these developments, with a constant eye on the cost per gigabit of data transmitted. “Our customers’ need for greater speed and volume of data transmission drives requirements for electrical performance more than ever, throughout the electronic system,” he declared.

“As interconnect experts, the value we provide is in helping customers weigh and select the best medium or combination of media to provide a cost-effective solution for each application,” he concluded.



Opportunities in China Increasing

Amphenol’s Mark Twaalfhoven, who is responsible for the nine Asian operations of Amphenol and has led an aggressive expansion of the company’s Asian operations, discussed the opportunities created by changing policies and attitudes in mainland China.

“The economic reforms started by Premier Deng Xiaoping in 1978 paved the way for localization in China,” Twaalfhoven stated. He noted that, since then, 14 Special Economic Zones have been created to assist in the development of local industries.

China—a nation of 1.2 billion people with land size identical to the United States—has strong foreign reserves of US $150 billion, he declared. This makes the Communist country one of the fastest-growing markets in the world.

“The wireless market,” Twaalfhoven said, “is the next target for localization.” He noted that China invests US $4 billion a year in wireless technology and there are no domestic suppliers. China ranks as the number-three cellular market, after the United States and Japan, with 40 million subscribers.

“China is using its market share for the exchange of technology,” the Amphenol executive pointed out, noting that joint ventures in China are needed to capture technology for the next generation. Joint ventures are possible in four options—with a Chinese company from the industry, with a Chinese silent partner, with a foreign partner or as a wholly foreign-owned enterprise.



Fleck Forecasts Growth by Industry Leaders

Fleck Research, in their annual presentation on technology trends and business issues, highlighted the Tyco acquisition of AMP as the major development of the past year, along with Tyco’s just-announced takeover of Siemens. He projected a growth in market share by the combined companies to 14%, with estimated revenues of $4.5 billion in 1999 and up to $8.3 billion by 2004, a share of 19%.

Among the top 10 manufactures, Fleck forecast AMP easily maintaining its leadership, followed by FCI and Molex. The next four American companies should decrease to two due to acquisitions, he noted, while the next two Japanese companies may increase to four.

In the distribution segment, Fleck said, the giants in the industry—Avnet and Arrow—will become even larger, accounting for 24.1% and 15.8%, respectively, of the market by 2004. The next eight companies will be reduced to four as a result of acquisitions, he predicted.

Fleck forecast contract electronics manufacturers’ shipments increasing from $16 billion in the current year to $20.4 billion by 2004, with their percentage of the total market soaring from the current 16.9% to 38.9%. CEMs will experience the highest growth, 29.1%, over the next five years, while distribution will advance by 8.1% and OEM totals will be down 2.9%.

The total world output of connectors, cable assemblies, backplanes and interconnect devices is seen growing from $36.5 billion in 1999 to $46.6 billion in 2004. China, which accounts for 17% of world production, should boost this total to 31.5% in five years.

Meanwhile, China, which accounts for $6.3 billion in 1999, or 17% of world production, will accelerate as a result of several factors. First, the Taiwanese companies manufacturing within China, who currently account for $1.8 billion will accelerate to $3.9 billion. Secondly, the U.S., European and Japanese companies manufacturing in China are already producing at a surprising $0.8 billion and are expected to reach $2.2 billion in 2004. The balance is state-owned Chinese companies.

The year 1999 was a busy one for mergers and acquisitions, Fleck declared, citing 35 major deals announced in the first nine months. Public connector companies are doing well, he noted, with Amphenol (up 80 points), AMP (up 68), JPM (up 58), Thomas & Betts (up 36), Molex (up 32) and Robinson-Nugent (up 28) posting significant gains.

Turning to the international scene, Fleck announced that the upturn finally has begun in Japan, with a 23.6% growth reported in 1999. The Pacific Rim—paced by rebounds in South Korea and Malaysia—showed a 14.8% advance, while North America’s outlook was mixed with a growth of 3.9%.

“The Internet is changing how business is done,” Fleck said, noting that IBM projects that the growing demand for electronic commerce applications will add $266 billion to global expenditures for information technology. “Unless your customers can conduct business (orders, price quotes, technical parameters) on the Web, they will go elsewhere,” he concluded.



Change in the Electronics Supply Chain

Providing a glimpse of the overall picture in the electronics industry as guest speaker for the first day’s luncheon session was Matthew Sheerin, editor in chief of Electronic Buyers’ News.

Following three tough years, from 1996 to 1998—marked by bloated OEM inventories, supply outstripping demand, severe price erosion and lower component sales and earnings across all sectors—the current economic picture illustrates a solid foundation for growth, Sheerin declared.

“There is strong demand in all sectors—PC and server markets, wireless communications, networking communications and industrial/instrumentation,” he observed. “Component orders and shipments have been on the rise, with the chip businesses leading the charge.”

Regarding the overall economic picture, supplies are beginning to tighten, Sheerin noted. “Suppliers are cautious in adding capacity, prices are firming or stable in most component sectors and there is an allocation or parts shortage in key areas.”

Sheerin detected a shift in the OEM business model, from the traditionally vertically integrated OEMs of the 1960s through the 1980s to the “virtual OEM” of the 1990s and into the next century, defined by outsourced product management and refining of the business processes.

“Supply chain management in a global environment is fundamental to winning in the marketplace,” he declared. “The supply chain management/procurement function affects corporate performance at a fundamental level.”

Outsourcing, Sheerin pointed out, has caught on in a big way as contract manufacturers like SCI, Solectron, Flextronics, Jabil and others prove they can do a better job. Currently 56% of companies now outsource services, a figure projected to increase to 63% over the next two years.

Contract manufacturing, now a $100 billion industry, should approach $180 billion by 2001, Sheerin predicted, with the top 10 CEMs dominating the business and setting the trends. There will, however, still be room for smaller, specialized CEMs, he noted.

Electronic commerce is becoming more commonplace, Sheerin said, with 40% of U.S. manufacturers using the Internet to purchase work-related items.



Backplane Changes and Opportunities

Technology trends impacting the backplane industry were outlines by Teradyne’s Richard Schneider, who manages a $280 million business with key customers in rapidly expanding industries. Prior to becoming a vice president and general manager, Schneider concentrated on developing and implementing strategies to achieve significant growth in high-performance connectors and backplane systems.

The world’s backplane market, Schneider stated, has been inching upward in the 1990s, with the industry’s top three of 67 suppliers accounting for 38% of that market. A continuing challenge has been the need for speed and the drive to improve pricing and performance.

Driving this surge, he noted, has been the effect of the Internet, which has grown from some 20 million users in 1995 to nearly 100 million today. Some 40% of the population over age 16 use the Web, with IT and Internet industries contributing 29% of U.S. economic growth in 1998.

“The Internet drives the need for more bandwidth,” Schneider stated, adding that the rapid evolution of servers, networks and storage has created new businesses with new technology requirements. “There is a significant discontinuity in customers demand—products must deliver more bandwidth with higher density, speed and fidelity.”

“The challenge in the backplane industry,” he noted, “is to optimize the performance of the entire signal transmission path to meet customers’ increasing bandwidth needs. Higher speed and density will drive tightly integrated system designs to optimize reliability and functionality and suppliers will need to provide more value added during the design phase. Simple continuity and power up tests will no longer be adequate.”



Connecting With the Next Generation

Cable Design Technologies’ Christopher Di Minico brought three decades of experience in the telecommunications industry to his FCC address on connectivity for next generation and gigabit networks. He is recognized as an authority on the physical layer interconnections for new and emerging technologies.

Di Minico pointed out that standardization of the media dependent interface equipment connector enables plug-and-play interoperation and auto-negotiation between multiple vendors’ equipment. The same factors, minus auto-negotiation, hold true for cable connector standardization.

“Ever-increasing bandwidth remains an issue in both LAN and WAN cabling applications,” he noted. This raises the questions: “Can I use the installed cable?” and “What cable should I install?”

Current fiber bandwidth measurement standards specify an overfilled launch, Di Minico said, adding that OFL does not sufficiently characterize fiber bandwidth for a laser launch. The “expected” gigabit Ethernet link lengths based on structured cabling standards were reduced due to the behavior of laser operation on multimode fiber, he noted.

“Lacking a laser launch fiber bandwidth measurement standard,” he pointed out, “some glass manufacturers are specifying applications distances, i.e., data rate vs. distance.” Laser optimized multimode fiber results in improved bandwidth for gigabit Ethernet distances over structured cabling distances, he concluded.



Military Aerospace Connector Trends

Amphenol Aerospace’s Gary Anderson—who has played a key role in growing the business into a dominant position in the military aerospace market—doubles as chairman of Amphenol’s Strategic Advisory Council for the Military Aerospace Market.

“The industry is undergoing its most significant change in the last decade,” Anderson said, noting that the era has been marked by consolidations and mergers, military systems becoming digital, inventory management becoming more efficient and distributors shifting toward becoming large-scale providers.

Currently, he pointed out, globalization and continued consolidation has resulted in more mergers and acquisitions. An increase in electronic content and complexity has resulted in the emerging of complex interfaces in the power, digital, fiber optic and RF segments.

“New military and political threats will demand increased Department of Defense spending and technology insertion,” Anderson predicted. “More healthy shakedowns are on the way, and optics and high-speed digital will proliferate.”

The Amphenol executive forecast increased globalization, with the Asia-Pacific region evolving into a key growth market. “Connector suppliers will become prime partners, as opposed to component suppliers,” he stated, “more integrated system opportunities will emerge and contract electronic manufacturers will grow—their market share nearly tripling by 2003.

“Accelerating technology demands will drive the shift from components to higher value-added,” Anderson concluded, stressing that “successful connector manufacturers will be able to provide complex system solutions, not just components. Growth will come from share absorption from smaller, component-only providers, and through higher-value products.”



Restructuring the Connector Industry Overseas

The staggering cost of closing down electronics companies overseas is being reversed by Business Creation, an organization formed to convert factories of large corporations into independent entities that develop, manufacture and sell new products for new markets. The concept was detailed by Gerry Van der Sluys, a partner in BC and a former CEO in the Huber+Suhner Connector Division.

“The total available connector production space worldwide is an estimated 75 million square feet, only 60% of which is being utilized,” Van der Sluys declared. “Of the utilized capacity, approximately 70% is located in high-labor-cost countries.

Causes of this situation, he noted, include globalization, logistic improvements, mergers and acquisitions, standardization, outsourcing and obsolete technologies and processes. “There is an urgent necessity to rearrange and restructure production capacities because of increasing price erosion and structural over-capacities,” he stated.

“At least 30 million square feet of production space in Western countries will be redundant and will partly be replaced by capacity in low-labor-cost countries,” Van der Sluys predicted. “If cold closures would happen in all cases, the total budget for restructuring would exceed US $6 billion.”

Alternatives to cold closure, he noted, are spinoff—including contract manufacturing—and conversion into other business activities. Business Creation facilitates the process by “offering an integral solution for complex divestments of multinational companies.”

Since its inception in 1982, Van der Sluys said, Business Creation’s efforts have resulted in over 30,000 jobs created, over 15 million square feet redeveloped, over 10 activities acquired and over $800 million saved for BC clients. The company maintains a presence in 11 European countries, as well as the United States and Asia.



An Introduction to RosettaNet

The Internet is changing how business is done, and Introit’s Larry Fullerton presented one of the industry’s newest services, RosettaNet, as a method of storing information technology for the benefit of its member companies.

“RosettaNet standards are being put in place,” Fullerton said, “and include business-to-business IT data, purchasing and inventory tracking and technical data exchange on products.” He noted that connector manufacturers’ tools from Introit will be ready for purchase in March, 2000.

The managing partners of RosettaNet include Cisco Systems, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Siemens, Toshiba, Microsoft, Netscape, Oracle, SAP, ABB, AMEX, GSA, Deutsch Financial, CompUSA, EDS, Insight, Arrow Electronics, Marshall Industries, Avnet, MicroAge, GEC, pcOrder, FedEx, UPS, Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Tech Pacific.

With RosettaNet, Fullerton declared, the member OEM will be able to locate the product he requires by classification scheme, by manufacturer, by part number, by core parameters, by application, by industry specification, by style of connector, by pin pitch, by military specification, by connector family names, by board mounting and by wire attachment.

“Introit’s next generation CIS solution will shorten time to money for the entire supply chain—connector manufacturers, VAPs, distributors, material service providers and OEMs,” Fullerton concluded.



The Impact of Chip Scale Packaging

Dr. Thomas Di Stefano, an internationally recognized leader in the fields of chip scale and wafer-level packaging, is the founder of Decision Track, with the mission to provide technology for wafer-level production of integrated circuits.

“Die wiring has hit an increasingly difficult problem of RC losses at high frequency,” he stated. “Solutions such as copper wiring on the wafer offers some relief, but a new paradigm is needed.”

Initial applications of chip scale packages were in miniature, handheld electronics because of extreme size limitations, Di Stefano noted. The Rambus RDRAM at 800 MHz is the first major application driven by electrical performance.

“The growth of CSPs is being paced by the infrastructure, which is limited primarily to memory applications,” he reported. “High-pin-count CSPs are limited by the capability of PWBs to support the high density wiring requirements. Flex materials needed for high-pin-count CSPs are expensive and in limited supply, and the standardization of processes, equipment and designs is taking time.”

Di Stefano stated that the wafer-level paradigm is driven by imperatives that will shape the industry for the next several decades—among them packaging cost, IC production logistics, system integration, interconnect density, IC functionality and performance. New industries will be created to serve the demand, such as manufacturing equipment for wafer finishing, interconnect foundry services and high-density interconnect materials.

“The wafer-level solution,” he concluded, “is incorporation of high-performance copper wiring into the package at the wafer level for critical wiring, including power, ground, clock and long critical networks, to provide significant advantages.”



Challenges in Contract Manufacturing

Detailing the challenges facing the contract electronics manufacturer was Solectron’s Onye Uzoukwu, who handles global sourcing and strategic supply issues for Solectron. Uzoukwu is a native of Nigeria, with over eight years of materials management experience in the electronics industry.

Outsourcing, Uzoukwu noted, has become a growing industry, with nearly $90 billion in revenue in 1998. That figure should virtually double by 2001, he noted, when the figure is projected at $178 billion.

From a single manufacturing location—Milpitas, California, in 1991—Solectron has become a global manufacturing presence, with facilities in North and South America, Europe and Asia. Sales have skyrocketed from $407 million in 1992 to nearly $8.4 billion currently.

Network equipment occupies the bulk, or 30%, of Solectron’s CEM activity, Ozoukwu pointed out, with computers taking up 18% and work stations and servers 14%. Another 13% comes in computer peripherals, including tape drives, disk drives, modems, printers and dedicated systems.

Solectron, he said, has grown by creating effective strategic partnerships, taking OEMs’ focus and adding value. This is accomplished in three shifts—global, partnership-level outsourcing; movement in the sourcing leverage axis, and changes in the supply chain relationship map by intersecting in the channel between the supplier and the OEM customer.

The company’s pipeline qualities, Ozoukwu stressed, are “best of breed” pricing, jointly developed demand creation strategies, “real time:” pipeline forecast and inventory visibility, collaborative technology road maps and e-commerce and Internet-based capabilities.



Consolidation of Telecommunications Providers

John Powers, who for a number of years was the marketing director on wireless at Motorola, has joined Crown Castle International, a leading provider of communications sites and wireless network services, as well as an array of related infrastructure and network support services to the wireless communications and radio and television broadcasting industries in the United States and United Kingdom.

Opportunities created by the evolving wireless market comprised Powers’ agenda, and he pointed out that the global demand for wireless services is projected to skyrocket over the next five years, while that of the United States remains relatively stagnant.

The growth in wireless technology has been driven, Powers noted, by “one rate” plans, prepaid wireless services and extended coverage areas. The PCS market share is ever increasing.

“A new paradigm shift, driven by the Internet, is approaching,” he declared, with new open networks, new players and partners and increased focus on integration. The U.S. demand for cellular sites, now at approximately 70,000, is projected to grow to over 100,000 next year.

“The theory of better, faster, cheaper still applies,” Powers stated, “and open interfaces of network elements create new potential. Service providers must anticipate the customers’ needs from as many perspectives as possible.”



Microprocessor Packaging Evolution & Challenge

Intel’s Dr. Rama Shukla has spent 20 years with the company, specializing in the research and development of interconnect technologies both for VLSI silicon and associated packaging/assembly technologies. His contributions include the areas of silicon thin film interconnects/dielectrics, MCM technology development, TAB/flip chip, wafer bumping and flip chip packaging technologies utilizing high-density interconnect substrates and associated assembly processes.

“The message of the mid-1990s,” Shukla declared, is “shift happens,” referring to paradigm shift. The curve does not taper off, but just gets steeper as we move into GHz CPU, 1, 2 and 3 GHz. The cost per MIPs (million instructions per second) is going down, made possible by silicon miniaturization and packaging trends, he noted.

The shift, Shukla explained, occurred from 1994 with laminated PCBs and silicon being able to withstand non-hermetic environment. This was the introduction of Organic Land Grid Array (Olga) packaging, where an area array flip chip replaced wire bonds with direct attachment to organic substrates. Thus, the performance of CPUs has gone up continuously while the packaging cost has gone down.

“Olga” has been used in the Pentium III Class, with a substrate of copper and a low dielectric for good signal integrity, he noted. “Wire bonding is limited by pad pitch and DCA (direct chip attach) solves much of this problem.”

In the late 1980s, it was MCM(D) which was on the rise, but it failed because of its high cost, Shukla pointed out. And in the ‘90s, it’s fine line substrates with microvias, but these too lave limitations. “In terms of power density, CPUs already are way above that of a ‘glowing hot plate’ and heat removal has become a prime concern,” he noted.

Shukla was quite pessimistic regarding U.S. printed circuit board makers—especially compared to the Japanese who, he said, are three to five years ahead in packaging substrates technology such as LCD flat panel displays.



The Battle Between Copper and Fiber

Lucent’s Calvin Martin brought the ongoing debate between copper and fiber optic technology in the communications industry. Martin has been active in the development of optical and copper-based data communications products for Lucent and serves as chief engineer for the company’s Optical Apparatus Test and Application Laboratory.

Martin pointed out that fiber’s penetration is rapidly increasing, terming fiber “the fastest-growing sector of the industry during the past year.” Fiber’s penetration to the desktop may increase, he said, adding that copper to the desk remains the economic winner in satisfying all anticipated applications.

Standards for fiber optic technology have not yet been established, he noted, but a study group was formed this year, and industry standards are expected by 2002.

“Home networks have the greatest potential” in fiber optics, Martin declared. He forecast that the current $.1 million expended today in that field would increase to $14.4 million over the next three years.



Packaging Trends for Next-generation Interconnects

Winding up the FCC portion of the conference was Gryphics founder and president James Rathburn, who has been involved in product development of electronics industry products for a dozen years. His experience involves the design, development and production aspects of a variety of products serving the computer, communications and semiconductor industries.

“Conventional connector technology falls short of performance requirements for future systems,” Rathburn declared. “A system-level approach to connector design is required. Advancements in semiconductor technology and packaging will greatly impact the connectors of the future.”

Rathburn pointed out that current system-level packaging trends include higher performance and smaller footprints. Cost, he maintained, is the main overall driving force. IC packaging trends include faster devices, high pin counts and clean power requirements.

“Connectors,” he said, “are being pushed to the limit of today’s design with the introduction of multi-row edge card connectors, additional ground and shielding pins and stretching of the Socket 7 connector platform. Inductance, due to long pins and vias, is crucial to signal performance.”

The connector of the future, Rathburn predicted, will require low inductance, low profile and low cost, and must be reliable and easy to use.

“Connector companies need to look at the entire system, from chip to consumer,” Rathburn declared. “OEMs need to make suppliers feel comfortable developing new technologies. The inside of most electronics will look much different than today, and a new connector set will emerge.”