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Pentium® based Multi-Chip-Module (MCM), same functionality but 4 x smaller


European Commission, 4th Framework Project (FP4)

The rapidly changing market for embedded and portable computing exhibits a steadily growing demand for improved reliability and increasing processing performance in progressively smaller form factors. A Pentium® based Multi-Chip-Module (MCM) was designed and manufactured during the 4th Framework project «EUROPRACTICE MCM». The main scientific and technical challenge of the project was to develop a technology demonstrator to show the potential of High Density Packaging (HDP) technologies.

Advantages of MCM-based solutions
  • simplification of system design
  • internal routing of high-speed host bus signals reduces power consumption and ringing
  • high frequencies and critical signals remain inside the MCM
  • standard simple interfaces (PCI, DRAM)
  • reduction of the number of signal layers on the motherboard
  • less aggressive board design rules
  • reduction of motherboard area
  • significant reduction in size (¼ of the original size)
  • overall weight reduction
  • easily upgradable (new processors / chipsets)
  • reduces time-to-market (no changes of motherboard required)
  • improved EMC and Thermal performance
  • end-user needs no Pentium knowledge

The Pentium® MCM was mounted on thermally enhanced Plastic-Stud-Grid-Array (PSGA), a packaging technology using plastic studs moulded to the body of the package instead of large solder balls, which provides reliable, low cost packaging of high pin-count devices. An existing Pentium® module chipset with 2nd level cache (9 chips plus SMD components), DRAM interface and PCI host-bridge was used with thin film on silicon in a PSGA housing which was significantly smaller than the original packaged Pentium®processor, i.e. 25% of the original packaged Pentium®

The SP5MX1 is a miniaturised version of the core of a Pentium® processor based Multi-Chip-Module (MCM) which is intended as a processor subsystem for use in mobile and embedded systems. First tests were successfully carried out with Windows NT running and some benchmark programs at a clock frequency of 100 MHz.

«LAP» Large Area Panel processing

European Commission, 4th Framework Project (FP4)

Thin film High Density Integration (HDI) offers the ultimate solution for many existing and new applications requiring either high electrical performance, smaller size, or both. However, the costs of these types of substrates has always been prohibitive.

The EU consortium «LAP» was formed to reduce the cost for thin-film substrates; the main goal of the project being the development and demonstration of low cost, high-density substrate manufacturing technology for first level die assemblies. i.e.

  • high density / low cost substrate technology
  • high performance MCM-D technology (50 µm line pitch & 50 µm via)
  • verification by prototyping on a LAP pilot line
  • compatibility of the LAP technologies of 3 manufacturers (within specified design rules)
  • verification of LAP technologies developed via 3 product demonstrators
Benefit of LAP technology

The substrate technologies developed allowed for a wide range of packaging options from inserted substrates into transfer-moulded packages to integrated MCM-L/D and MCM-M/D (M=metal) area array packages. This ongoing trend towards miniaturisation, increased functionality and higher frequencies offers several significant challenges, e.g.

  • increased functionality requires higher level of integration
  • high frequency applications demand high signal integrity
  • increased average component I/O density require still higher interconnect density
  • direct chip attach to board (COB) is increasing as this gives the lowest inductance and noise, combined with the highest I/O density
  • several chips in one package (MCM) or even a systems in a package (SIP) development are driven by increased functionality, reduced size and lower cost


Suitability of LAP technology was further demonstrated with the commercial implementation of a 9:4 satellite switch operating up to 2.4GHz.

«SMM» Solderable Memory Module

Customer: Art of Technology AG (internal project)

An elegant solution for industrial and medical applications providing a compact memory module with an electrical SD / MMC interface which is soldered directly onto a printed circuit board.

With a size of 24 x 20 mm2 and a pitch of only 1.27 mm, it is significantly smaller than a standard SD / MMC card, has less demands on board design and can be used wherever space considerations are critical. Moreover, with a controlled Bill of Material (BOM) problems resulting from hardware and firmware changes to the NAND Flash controller are now a thing of the past.

Customised functions such as password protection, emergency deletion can also be realised. With it's small form factor the SMM is the ideal choice for embedded systems in extremely demanding applications and environments.

Heart of the «QBIC» is a Intel Xscale CPU

«QBIC» is a fully-fledged computer integrated into a common everyday accessory - a belt !

«QBIC» Q-Belt Integrated Computer

Customer: ETH Zurich (IfE)

Designed to be comfortable to wear without compromising reliability «QBIC» is not just a wearable computer, it also serves a classic function... keeping your trousers up!

Heart of the «QBIC» is a Intel Xscale CPU (Intel PXA263B1C400) which runs at a variable speed up to 400 MHz. The belt contains a battery, real-time clock and system bus extension for peripherals. Moreover the belt provides plugs for USB and serial devices (RS-232), VGA connector and power connector which can be used to attach to a mains supply, or an additional belt-attachable battery. The buckle, which can be removed from the belt and slotted onto a developer board for convenient programming, contains two circuit boards:

  • a main board with the CPU, SDRAM and power supply
  • an extension board with the Bluetooth device, USB controllers and an MMC card slot
  • XScale processor (400 MHz scalable, 32 MB internal flash memory)
  • 256 MB SDRAM
  • MMC card slot (up to 2GB flash)
  • 2 x USB host ports, 2 x serial (RS-232), 1 x VGA: 640x480
  • Bluetooth
  • Hot-plug battery exchange


Although originally developed as a research platform to collect and process sensory data for medical monitoring and context recognition projects, QBIC can be used for a variety of applications, e.g.

  • recognising & monitoring daily activities
  • monitoring medical parameters of critical patients, 24 hours a day
  • monitoring user actions in work process flows
  • collection & analysis of data on user movement for rehabilitation
  • collect and analyse data on user movement for dance projects
  • computer for reality games
  • tracking location
  • guide for tourists or travellers


Projects and groups using QBIC
MyHeartFighting cardio-vascular diseases
WearIT@WorkSkoda car production
WearIT@Workgespag hospital management
WearlabTZI, University Bremen, Germany
Embedded Systems LabUniversity Passau, Germany