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Publication numberUS20060050492 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/934,027
Publication dateMar 9, 2006
Filing dateSep 3, 2004
Priority dateSep 3, 2004
Also published asCN1819185A, US7480152, US7602613, US20060050496, US20070115017
Publication number10934027, 934027, US 2006/0050492 A1, US 2006/050492 A1, US 20060050492 A1, US 20060050492A1, US 2006050492 A1, US 2006050492A1, US-A1-20060050492, US-A1-2006050492, US2006/0050492A1, US2006/050492A1, US20060050492 A1, US20060050492A1, US2006050492 A1, US2006050492A1
InventorsPaul Goodwin, James Cady, Douglas Wehrly
Original AssigneeStaktek Group, L.P.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Thin module system and method
US 20060050492 A1
Abstract
A flexible circuit has contacts for mounting in a socket or card edge connector. The flexible circuit includes integrated circuit devices mounted on both sides of the edge connector contacts. Preferably, the flexible circuit is wrapped about an edge of a rigid substrate and presents contacts on both sides of the substrate for mounting in a socket. Multiple flexible circuits may be overlaid with the same strategy. The flexible circuit may exhibit one or two or more conductive layers, and may have changes in the layered structure or have split layers.
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Claims(57)
1. A memory expansion board comprising:
(a) a rigid substrate having two opposing lateral sides and an edge;
(b) a flex circuit wrapped about the edge of the rigid substrate, the flex circuit having a first side and a second side, a portion of the flex circuit attached to at least one of the lateral sides of the rigid substrate, the flex circuit having plural contacts adapted for connection to a circuit board socket, the plural contacts being disposed near the edge of the rigid substrate on the outside side of the flex circuit;
(c) plural memory CSPs mounted on the first side and second side of the flex circuit.
2. The memory expansion board of claim 1 in which the plural CSPs each have a top surface and one or more of the top surfaces of the plural CSPs is attached to the rigid substrate.
3. The memory expansion board of claim 1 in which the rigid substrate is made of a conductive material.
4. The memory expansion board of claim 1 in which the rigid substrate is made of a thermally conductive material.
5. The memory expansion board of claim 1 in which the rigid substrate has an extension.
6. The memory expansion board of claim 1 further comprising at least one alignment opening of the flex circuit matching at least one alignment opening of the rigid substrate.
7. The memory expansion board of claim 1 further comprising at least one alignment opening of the flex circuit matching at least one alignment protrusion of the rigid substrate.
8. The memory expansion board of claim 1 further comprising at least one alignment tab of the rigid substrate.
9. A circuit module comprising:
a substrate having a first and a second lateral side and a first perimeter edge and a second perimeter edge;
a flex circuit having a first side and a second side, the first side having expansion board contacts adapted for connection to an expansion board slot and having a set of contact arrays, the flex circuit being wrapped about the first perimeter edge of the substrate to place the expansion board contacts of the first side closer to the first perimeter edge of the substrate than is disposed the set of contact arrays and to place the second side of the flex circuit closer to the lateral sides of the substrate than is disposed the first side of the flex circuit.
10. A circuit module comprising:
a substrate having a first and a second lateral side and a first perimeter edge and a second perimeter edge;
a flex circuit having a first side and a second side, the first side having expansion board contacts adapted for connection to an expansion board slot and having a set of contact arrays, the flex circuit being wrapped about the first perimeter edge of the substrate to place the expansion board contacts of the first side closer to the second perimeter edge of the substrate than is disposed the set of contact arrays and to place the second side of the flex circuit closer to the lateral sides of the substrate than is disposed the first side of the flex circuit.
11. A circuit module comprising a flex circuit having a first side having contacts adapted for connection to a socket, a second side, and being imposed with a bend to form an open-ended pocket having an inward side and an outward side and being open at one end and closed at the other end of the pocket, the first side of the flex circuit being on the outward side of the pocket and the second side of the flex circuit being on the inward side of the pocket.
12. The circuit module of claim 11 further comprising a rigid interposer disposed at least partially in the open-ended pocket of the flex circuit.
13. The circuit module of claim 12 in which the rigid interposer is made of a conductive material.
14. The circuit module of claim 11 further comprising a support member disposed at least partially in the open-ended pocket of the flex circuit.
15. The circuit module of claim 11 further comprising a heat-conducting member disposed at least partially in the open-ended pocket of the flex circuit.
16. The circuit module of claim 12, in which the rigid interposer has a necked narrow portion disposed adjacent to the closed end of the pocket.
17. The circuit module 11 in which the flex circuit has two end portions, each end portion having a plurality of memory CSPs mounted on the first and second sides of the flex circuit.
18. A circuit module comprising:
(a) a flex circuit having an inner side and an outer side;
(b) plural CSPs mounted along the inner side and the outer side of the flex circuit;
(c) a bend in the flex circuit between first and second portions of the flex circuit, the first and second portions each having contacts arranged along their outer side, the contacts for mounting the circuit module in a card edge connector, the bend separating a first set of the plural CSPs from a second set of the plural CSPs;
(d) a support structure about which the flex circuit transits through the bend.
19. The circuit module of claim 18 in which at least one of the CSPs on the inner side of the flex circuit is adhesively connected to the support structure.
20. The circuit module of claim 18 in which at least one of the CSPs on the inner side of the flex circuit is thermally connected to the support structure.
21. The circuit module of claim 18 in which a portion of the flex circuit is laminated to the support structure.
22. The circuit module of claim 18 in which the bend in the flex circuit creates an open-ended pocket having a closed end and an open end and the support structure exhibits a first portion having a first thickness at the closed end of the pocket and presents a second portion having a second thickness at the open end of the pocket in the flex circuit.
23. The circuit module of claim 18 in which the support structure has a first portion and a second portion, the first portion being thinner than the second portion.
24. A method for devising a circuit module comprising the steps of:
providing a flex circuit having first and second sides and first and second long perimeter edges and first and second short perimeter edges with a set of module contacts along the first side and first and second pluralities of CSPs disposed laterally about the set of module contacts to place the first plurality of CSPs nearer the first long perimeter edge of the flex circuit than is disposed the set of module contacts and the second plurality of CSPs nearer the second long perimeter edge of the flex circuit than is disposed the set of module contacts;
a substrate having first and second lateral sides and a first long perimeter edge and a second long perimeter edge;
wrapping the flex circuit about the substrate to dispose the second side of the flex circuit closer to the first and second lateral sides of the substrate than is disposed the first side of the flex circuit and to dispose the set of module contacts nearer the first long perimeter edge of the substrate than the second long perimeter edge of the substrate and to place the first plurality of CSPs closer to the first lateral side of the substrate than is disposed the second plurality of CSPs.
25. The method of claim 24 in which the provided flex circuit has third and fourth pluralities of CSPs.
26. The method of claim 24 in which the CSPs are each stacked modules composed of two or more individual CSPs.
27. A method for providing increased memory capacity for a computer system comprising the steps of:
providing a circuit module in accordance with claim 1 and inserting said module into an expansion slot.
28. A method for providing increased memory capacity for a computing system comprising the steps of:
providing a circuit module devised in accordance with claim 24 and inserting said module into an expansion slot on a motherboard.
28. A method of assembling a circuit module comprising the steps:
providing a flex circuit having a first side and a second side, the first side having a plurality of pads for mounting components and a plurality of contacts for insertion in an expansion board slot; the second side having a plurality of pads for mounting components;
mounting plural CSPs along the first side of the flex circuit;
mounting plural discrete components along the first side of the flex circuit;
mounting plural CSPs along the second side of the flex circuit;
mounting plural discrete components along the second side of the flex circuit;
providing a rigid substrate having first and second major surfaces and an edge; and
wrapping the flex circuit about the edge of the rigid substrate, with the first side facing outward, such that a first set of the plurality of contacts are disposed proximal to the edge of the rigid substrate.
29. The method of claim 28 in which the step of wrapping the flex circuit further includes wrapping such that a second set of the plurality of contacts are disposed proximal to the edge of the rigid substrate.
30. The method of claim 28 further including the step of attaching at least one of the plural CSPs along the second side of the flex circuit to the rigid substrate.
31. The method of claim 28 further including the step of thermally connecting at least one of the plural CSPs along the second side of the flex circuit to the rigid substrate.
32. The method of claim 28 further including the step of attaching a heat radiating clip to selected ones of the plural CSPs.
33. The method of claim 28 further including the step of attaching a heat radiating element to at least one of the CSPs along the first side of the flex circuit.
34. The method of claim 28 further including the step of inserting the plurality of contacts at least partially into an expansion board slot for connection to an operating environment.
35. A method of assembling a circuit module comprising the steps:
providing a flex circuit having a first side and a second side and a plurality of contacts along the first side for insertion in an expansion board slot;
mounting at least first and second CSPs along the first side of the flex circuit;
providing a rigid substrate having first and second major sides and an edge;
wrapping the flex circuit about the rigid substrate to dispose the first of the at least first and second CSPs closer to the first major side of the rigid substrate than the second major side of the substrate and dispose the second of the at least first and second CSPs closer to the second major side of the rigid substrate than the first major side of the substrate and attaching the flex circuit to the rigid substrate such that the plural contacts are presented proximal to the edge of the rigid substrate for insertion into the expansion board slot.
36. The method of claim 35 in which the step of attaching the flex circuit to the rigid substrate comprises lamination.
37. The method of claim 35 further comprising mounting third and fourth CSPs along the second side of the flex circuit.
38. The method of claim 35 in which the rigid substrate is made of heat conducting material.
39. The method of claim 35 in which the rigid substrate has first portion and a second portion, the first portion being thinner than the second portion.
40. The method of claim 35 further including the step of thinning the rigid substrate along the edge of the rigid substrate.
41. The method of claim 35 further including the step of aligning a tooling hole of the flex circuit with a tooling hole of the rigid substrate.
42. A populated flexible circuit comprising:
a flexible circuit having a first major side and a second major side, the flexible circuit exhibiting along the first major side, first-side first and second sets of contact site arrays between which is located a row of connector contacts, the second major side of the flexible circuit exhibiting second-side first and second sets of contact site arrays which correspond to the first-side first and second sets of contact site arrays, each of the first-side and second-side first and second sets of contact site arrays comprising at least two surface mount arrays, the flexible circuit providing connections between the at least two surface mount arrays of each of the first-side first and second sets of contact site arrays and the at least two surface mount arrays of each of the second-side first and second sets of contact site arrays;
a plurality of CSPs that populate the at least two surface mount arrays of each of the first-side first and second sets of contact site arrays and the at least two surface mount arrays of each of the second-side first and second sets of contact site arrays.
43. A circuit assembly comprising:
a flexible circuit having a first major side and a second major side, the flexible circuit having at least one or more rows of surface mount arrays on the first major side and two or more rows of surface mount arrays on the second major side, the flexible circuit having a arcuate bend between a selected two of the two or more rows of surface mount arrays on the second major side, the second major side facing inward to the arcuate bend, the flexible circuit having an end edge and connector contacts disposed proximal to the end edge;
a plurality of CSPs that populate the one or more rows of surface mount arrays of the first major side and the two or more rows of surface mount arrays of the second major side, each of the CSPs having a top major surface;
a support substrate partially within the arcuate bend, the support substrate having a first side and a second side and an edge, at least one of the top major surfaces of the plurality of CSPs populating the two or more rows of surface mount arrays of the second major side being attached to the support substrate, the edge of the support substrate being adapted for insertion into a card edge connector.
44. A circuit assembly comprising:
a flexible circuit having a first major side and a second major side, the flex circuit having two or more rows of surface mount arrays on the second major side, the flexible circuit having an arcuate bend between a selected two of the two or more rows of surface mount arrays on the second major side, the second major side facing inward to the arcuate bend, the flexible circuit having an end edge and connector contacts disposed proximal to the end edge;
a plurality of CSPs that populate the two or more rows of surface mount arrays of the second major side, each of the CSPs having a top major surface;
a support substrate partially within the arcuate bend, the support substrate having a first side and a second side and an edge, at least one of the top major surfaces of the plurality of CSPs populating the two or more rows of surface mount arrays of the second major side being attached to the support substrate, the edge of the support substrate being adapted for insertion into a card edge connector.
45. A circuit module comprising:
a rigid substrate having two opposing lateral sides and two opposing end edges;
a flexible circuit wrapped about at least one of the two opposing end edges, the flexible circuit having a first side and a second side each having one or more rows of contact site arrays, a portion of the flex circuit being attached to at least one of the lateral sides of the circuit board, the flex circuit having plural contacts adapted for electrical connection to a card edge connector.
46. The circuit module of claim 45 in which the plural contacts are on the first side of the flex circuit, and in which a portion of the second side of the flex circuit opposite at least some of the plural contacts is laminated to the rigid substrate.
47. A circuit module comprising:
a circuit board having two opposing lateral sides and an edge;
a flex circuit wrapped around the edge of the rigid substrate, the flex circuit having an inner side and an outer side, the inner and outer sides each having two or more rows of contact site arrays, a portion of the flex circuit being laminated to at least one of the lateral sides of the circuit board, the flex circuit having plural contacts adapted for electrical connection to the circuit board;
a plurality of CSPs mounted to the two or more rows of contacts site arrays of the inner side and the outer side of the flex circuit.
48. A method to encourage the extraction of thermal energy from a CSP that operates in conjunction with at least one other CSP comprising the steps of:
providing a first CSP having a top surface and a bottom surface, there being CSP contacts along the bottom surface;
providing a thermally conductive substrate member and attaching the first CSP to the thermally conductive substrate member;
providing a flex circuit and attaching the first CSP to the flex circuit, the attachment being effectuated employing the CSP contacts of the first CSP and employing the thermally conductive substrate member as a support for a part of the flex circuit;
providing a second CSP having a bottom surface and CSP contacts and attaching the second CSP to the flex circuit, the attachment being effectuated employing the CSP contacts of the second CSP so that the CSP contacts of the first CSP are separated from the CSP contacts of the second CSP by a part of the flex circuit.
49. The method of claim 48 further comprising a set of contacts electrically connected to the flex circuit to provide connective facility for the first and second CSPs to an operating environment.
50. The method of claim 48 in which the thermally conductive substrate member is comprised of a metal.
51. The method of claim 50 in which the thermally conductive substrate member is comprised of aluminum.
52. The method of claim 50 in which the thermally conductive substrate member is comprised of a radiative portion having fins.
53. The method of claim 48 in which the thermally conductive substrate member is comprised of FR4 and a metallic layer.
54. The method of claim 48 in which the attachment of the first CSP to the thermally conductive substrate member is by the top surface of the first CSP.
55. A circuit module to encourage the extraction of thermal energy from a CSP that operates in conjunction with at least one other CSP comprising:
a first CSP having a top surface and a bottom surface and CSP contacts, the CSP contacts being along the bottom surface;
a thermally conductive substrate member attached to the first CSP;
a flex circuit attached to the first CSP, the attachment being effectuated employing the CSP contacts of the first CSP, the thermally conductive substrate member being a support for a part of the flex circuit;
a second CSP attached the flex circuit, the attachment being effectuated employing the CSP contacts of the second CSP so that the CSP contacts of the first CSP are separated from the CSP contacts of the second CSP by at least a part of the flex circuit.
56. A circuit module comprising:
a substrate having first and second lateral sides and a cavity;
flex circuitry having a first portion adjacent to the first lateral side of the substrate and a second portion adjacent to the second lateral side of the substrate;
the flex circuitry having edge card connector contacts;
a connector having first and second parts which are selectively joinable;
the first part of the connector being connected to the first portion of the flex circuitry and the second part of the connector being connected to the second portion of the flex circuitry, the first and second parts of the flex circuitry being joined in the cavity of the substrate.
Description
FIELD

The present invention relates to systems and methods for creating high density circuit modules.

BACKGROUND

A variety of techniques are used to make high density circuit modules. Some techniques require special circuit board designs, while other techniques use conventional circuit boards.

Memory expansion is one of the many fields in which high density circuit board solutions provide space-saving advantages. For example, the well-known DIMM (Dual In-line Memory Module) board has been used for years, in various forms, to provide memory expansion. A typical DIMM includes a conventional PCB (Printed Circuit Board) with memory devices and supporting digital logic devices mounted on both sides. The DIMM is typically mounted in the host computer system by inserting a contact-bearing edge of the DIMM into a card edge connector. Typically, systems that employ DIMMs provide limited space for such devices and most memory expansion boards are somewhat limited in the memory capacity they add to a system.

There are several known methods to improve the limited capacity of a DIMM or other circuit board. Such methods have various cost or performance impacts. Further, many capacity increasing techniques exacerbate profile issues and contribute to thermal management complexities.

In one scheme, small circuit boards (daughter cards) are connected to the DIMM to provide extra mounting space. The additional connection may cause, however, flawed signal integrity for the data signals passing from the DIMM to the daughter card. For example, signal traces between devices on the DIMM and devices on the daughter card may at higher speeds add to signal dispersion while added connectors are a considerable reliability issue. Other problems may arise from the connector that attaches the daughter card to the DIMM. Such flaws may cause reflections and compromise the quality of signaling waveforms and reduce the maximum speed at which the devices may operate.

Another scheme to increase circuit board capacity is multiple die packages (MDP). This scheme increases the capacity of the memory devices on the DIMM by including multiple semiconductor die in a single device package. The additional heat generated by the multiple die typically requires, however, additional cooling capabilities to operate at maximum operating speed. Further, the MDP scheme may exhibit increased costs because of increased yield loss from packaging together multiple die that are not fully pre-tested.

Yet another strategy to increase circuit board capacity is stacked packages. This scheme increases capacity by stacking packaged integrated circuits to create a high-density circuit module for mounting on the circuit board. In some techniques, flexible conductors are used to selectively interconnect packaged integrated circuits. Staktek Group L.P. has developed numerous systems for aggregating CSP (chipscale packaged) devices in space saving topologies. The increased component height of some stacking techniques may alter, however, system requirements such as, for example, required cooling airflow or the minimum spacing around a circuit board on its host system.

Typically, the known methods raise thermal management issues. For example, when a conventional FBGA packaged DRAM is mounted on a DIMM, the primary thermal path is through the balls into the core of a multilayer DIMM. When, for example, a stack of devices is employed on a DIMM, the top device gets hotter when it is active versus when the lower device is active, thus stacking methods in DIMM applications may present thermal constraints.

What is needed therefore are methods and structures for providing high capacity circuit boards in thermally efficient, reliable designs that perform well at higher frequencies but are not too large, yet can be made at reasonable cost with commonly available and readily managed materials.

SUMMARY

A flexible circuit has contacts for mounting in a socket or card edge connector. Preferred embodiments of the present invention can be used to provide an increased surface area circuit board module.

In one preferred embodiment, a flexible circuit is populated on both sides with integrated circuits and wrapped about an edge of a rigid substrate. The flexible circuit presents contacts for mounting the assembly in a socket. Multiple flex circuits may be overlaid with the same scheme. The flex circuit may aligned using tooling holes in the flex circuit and substrate. The flexible circuit may exhibit one or two or more conductive layers, and may have changes in the layered structure or have split layers.

In another preferred embodiment, the invention provides a method of assembling a circuit module including mounting ICs on both sides of a flexible circuit having contacts, providing a rigid substrate, and wrapping the flexible circuit around the substrate to present contacts near the edge of the substrate for insertion into an expansion board slot.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts a contact-bearing first side of a flex circuit devised in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 depicts the second side of the flex circuit of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 depicts a cross-sectional view of a module assembly devised in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of the area marked “A” in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a plan view depicting one side of a module assembly devised in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged view of a portion of one preferred embodiment.

FIG. 7 depicts a cutout portion of a flex circuit and substrate according to one preferred embodiment.

FIG. 8 depicts another embodiment of the present invention having a clip.

FIG. 9 depicts another embodiment having a thinned portion of substrate.

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of another preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 11 depicts another preferred embodiment having an extended substrate.

FIG. 12 depicts alternate preferred embodiment having additional layers of ICs.

FIG. 13 depicts another embodiment having flex portions wrapped around opposing edges of a substrate.

FIG. 14 depicts yet another embodiment having a flex portion wrapped around opposing edges of a substrate.

FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 16 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 17 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention having CSPs on the external side of a flex circuit.

FIG. 18 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention having CSPs mounted between a flex circuit and substrate.

FIG. 19 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention in which the flex circuit transits over an end of the substrate opposite the edge connector contacts.

FIG. 20 is a preferred embodiment of the present invention similar to that depicted in earlier FIG. 11.

FIG. 21 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention in which a connector provides selective interconnective facility between parts of the flex circuit on opposite lateral sides of the substrate.

FIG. 22 depicts details from the area marked “A” in FIG. 21.

FIG. 23 is an elevation view of an embodiment of an alternative circuit module.

FIG. 24 is a cross-sectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 23.

FIG. 25 is an elevation view of another embodiment of the alternative circuit module of FIG. 23.

FIG. 26 is a cross-sectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 25.

FIG. 27 is an elevation view of yet another alternative circuit module.

FIG. 28 is a cross-sectional view of the alternative circuit module of FIG. 27.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1 and 2 depict opposing sides 8 and 9 of a preferred flex circuit 12 (“flex”, “flex circuitry”, “flexible circuit”) used in constructing a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Flex circuit 12 is preferably made from conductive layers supported by one or more flexible substrate layers as further described with reference to later Figures. The construction of flex circuitry is known in the art. The entirety of the flex circuit 12 may be flexible or, as those of skill in the art will recognize, the flexible circuit structure 12 may be made flexible in certain areas to allow conformability to required shapes or bends, and rigid in other areas to provide rigid and planar mounting surfaces. Preferred flex circuit 12 has openings 17 for use in aligning flex circuit 12 to substrate 14 during assembly.

ICs 18 on flexible circuit 12 are, in this embodiment, chip-scale packaged memory devices. For purposes of this disclosure, the term chip-scale or “CSP” shall refer to integrated circuitry of any function with an array package providing connection to one or more die through contacts (often embodied as “bumps” or “balls” for example) distributed across a major surface of the package or die. CSP does not refer to leaded devices that provide connection to an integrated circuit within the package through leads emergent from at least one side of the periphery of the package such as, for example, a TSOP.

Embodiments of the present invention may be employed with leaded or CSP devices or other devices in both packaged and unpackaged forms but where the term CSP is used, the above definition for CSP should be adopted. Consequently, although CSP excludes leaded devices, references to CSP are to be broadly construed to include the large variety of array devices (and not to be limited to memory only) and whether die-sized or other size such as BGA and micro BGA as well as flip-chip. As those of skill will understand after appreciating this disclosure, some embodiments of the present invention may be devised to employ stacks of ICs each disposed where an IC 18 is indicated in the exemplar FIGS.

Multiple integrated circuit die may be included in a package depicted a single IC 18. While in this embodiment memory ICs are used to provide a memory expansion board, this is not limiting and various embodiments may include a variety of integrated circuits and other components. Such variety may include microprocessors, FPGA's, RF transceiver circuitry, digital logic, as a list of non-limiting examples, or other circuits or systems which may benefit from a high-density circuit board capability. Circuit 19 depicted between a pair of ICs 18 may be a memory buffer or controller.

FIG. 1 depicts a top or outer side 8 of flex circuit 12 having ICs 18 mounted in two rows ICR1 and ICR2. Contact arrays are disposed beneath ICs 18 and circuit 19 to provide conductive pads for interconnection to the ICs. An exemplar contact array 11A is shown as is exemplar IC 18 to be mounted at contact array 11A as depicted. The contact arrays 11A that correspond to an IC row (e.g., ICR1) may be considered a contact array set. Between the rows ICR1 and ICR2 of ICs 18, flex circuit 12 has two rows (CR1 and CR2) of module contacts 20. When flex circuit 12 is folded as depicted in later FIGS. 3 and 4, side 8 depicted in FIG. 1 is presented at the outside of module 10. The opposing side 9 of flex circuit 12 (FIG. 2) is on the inside in the folded configurations of FIGS. 3 and 4. The depiction of FIG. 1 shows two pluralities of ICs 18 along side 8 of flex circuit 12, the pluralities or sets of ICs being referenced in FIG. 1 as ICR1 and ICR2. Other embodiments may have other numbers of rows and there may be only one such row. FIG. 2 depicts another two pluralities of ICs 18 along side 9 of flex circuit 12 referenced as ICR3 and ICR4. Various discrete components such as termination resistors, bypass capacitors, and bias resistors may also be mounted on each of sides 8 and 9 of flex 12. Such discrete components are not shown to simplify the drawing. Flex circuit 12 may also depicted with reference to its perimeter edges, two of which are typically long (PElong1 and PElong2) and two of which are typically shorter (PEshort1 and PEshort2). Other embodiments may employ flex circuits 12 that are not rectangular in shape and may be square in which case the perimeter edges would be of equal size or other convenient shape to adapt to manufacturing particulars. However, rectangular shapes for flex circuit 12 assist in providing a low profile for a preferred module devised with use of flex circuit 12.

FIG. 1 depicts exemplar conductive traces 21 connecting rows CR1 and CR2 of module contacts 20 to ICs 18. Only a few exemplar traces are shown to simplify the drawing. Traces 21 may also connect to vias that may transit to other conductive layers of flex 12 in certain embodiments having more than one conductive layer. Shown is a via 23 connecting a signal trace 23 from circuit 19 to a trace 25 disposed on another conductive layer of flex 12 as illustrated by the dotted line of trace 25. In a preferred embodiment, vias connect ICs 18 on side 9 of flex 12 (FIG. 2) to module contacts 20. Traces 21 and 25 may make other connections between the ICs on either side of flex 12 and may traverse the rows of module contacts 20 to interconnect ICs. Together the various traces and vias make interconnections needed to convey data and control signals to the various ICs. Those of skill will understand that the present invention may be implemented with only a single row of module contacts 20 and may, in other embodiments be implemented as a module bearing ICs on only one side.

FIG. 3 is a cross section view of a module assembly 10 devised in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Module assembly 10 is populated with ICs 18 having top surfaces 18 T and bottom surfaces 18 B. Substrate 14 has a first and a second perimeter edges 16A and 16B appearing in the depiction of FIG. 3 as ends. Substrate 14 typically has first and second lateral sides S1 and S2. Flex 12 is wrapped about perimeter edge 16A of substrate 14, which in the depicted embodiment, provides the basic shape of a common DIMM board form factor such as that defined by JEDEC standard MO-256. Preferably, at least a portion 24 of the pocket of flex 12 formed by the wrapping about the substrate is laminated or otherwise connected to substrate 14 on both sides of substrate 14. Portion 24 may vary in length depending on factors such as, for example, the height of ICs 18, the thickness of substrate 14, the length of module contacts 20, and the size and design of the card edge connector or socket into which module assembly 10 is adapted to be mounted. Above portion 24 is depicted flex level transition 26 of flex circuit 12. The space between flex level transition 26 and substrate 14 may be filled with a conformal or heat conductive underfill, or may be left unfilled. Flex level transition 26 is a bend formed in a manner devised to allow flex circuit 12 to provide conductive connection from a plane at the level of flex circuit portion 24 to a plane at the level of flex circuit portion 28. The offset between the two planes is, in this embodiment, the height of a single IC 18 added to that of adhesive 30 (FIG. 6). Adhesive 30 in a preferred embodiment is a thermally conductive material to take advantage of the heat dissipation characteristics that may be provided by use of an appropriately selected substrate 14 comprised, for example, of a metal such as aluminum.

The inner pair of the four depicted ICs 18 are preferably attached to substrate 14 with a heat conductive adhesive 30. While in this embodiment, the four depicted ICs are attached to flex circuit 12 in opposing pairs, this is not limiting and more ICs may be connected in other arrangements such as, for example, staggered or offset arrangements. Further, while only CSP packaged ICs are shown, other ICs and components may be attached. In a preferred embodiment, ICs 18 will be memory CSPs and various discrete components such as, for example, resistors and capacitors will also be mounted on flex circuit portion 28. To simplify the drawing, the discrete components are not shown. Further, ICs and other components may be mounted to flex circuit portion 24.

In this embodiment, flex circuit 12 has module contacts 20 positioned in a manner devised to fit in a circuit board card edge connector or socket and connect to corresponding contacts in the connector (not shown). While module contacts 20 are shown protruding from the surface of flex circuit 12, this is not limiting and other embodiments may have flush contacts or contacts below the surface level of flex 12. Substrate 14 supports module contacts 20 from behind flex circuit 12 in a manner devised to provide the mechanical form required for insertion into a socket. While the depicted substrate 14 has uniform thickness, this is not limiting and in other embodiments the thickness or surface of substrate 14 in the vicinity of perimeter edge 16A may differ from that in the vicinity of perimeter edge 16B. Non-limiting examples of such possible variations are found in FIGS. 9 and 10. Substrate 14 in the depicted embodiment is preferably made of a metal such as aluminum or copper, as non-limiting examples, or where thermal management is less of an issue, materials such as FR4 (flame retardant type 4) epoxy laminate, PTFE (poly-tetra-fluoro-ethylene) or plastic. In another embodiment, advantageous features from multiple technologies may be combined with use of FR4 having a layer of copper on both sides to provide a substrate 14 devised from familiar materials which may provide heat conduction or a ground plane.

One advantageous methodology for efficiently assembling a circuit module 10 such as described and depicted herein is as follows. In a preferred method of assembling a preferred module assembly 10, flex circuit 12 is placed flat and both sides populated according to circuit board assembly techniques known in the art. Flex circuit 12 is then folded about end 16A of substrate 14. Next, tooling holes 17 may be used to align flex 12 to substrate 14. Flex 12 may be laminated or otherwise attached to substrate 14 at portions 24. Further, top surfaces 18 T of ICs 18 may be attached to substrate 14 in a manner devised to provide mechanical integrity or thermal conduction.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of the area marked ‘A’ in FIG. 3. Edge 16A of substrate 14 is shaped like a male side edge of an edge card connector. While a particular oval-like configuration is shown, edge 16A may take on other shapes devised to mate with various connectors or sockets. The form and function of various edge card connectors are well know in the art. Flex 12 is wrapped around edge 16A of substrate 14 and may be laminated or adhesively connected to substrate 14 with adhesive 30. The depicted adhesive 30 and flex 12 may vary in thickness and are not drawn to scale to simplify the drawing. The depicted substrate 14 has a thickness such that when assembled with the flex 12 and adhesive 30 the thickness measured between module contacts 20 falls in the range specified for the mating connector. In some other embodiments, flex circuit 12 may be wrapped about perimeter edge 16B or both perimeter edges 16A and 16B of substrate 14.

FIG. 5 depicts a plan view of module assembly 10 devised in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Those of skill will recognize that module assembly 10 may replace more traditional DIMMs employed in a large variety of systems. Module assembly 10 has flex circuit 12 wrapped about an edge 16 of substrate 14. ICs 18 are mounted to flex circuit 12 along the depicted side as described with reference to earlier Figs. Module contacts 20 are presented near edge 22 of module assembly 10 for connection to a card edge connector or socket.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged view of a portion of one preferred embodiment showing lower IC 18 1 and upper IC 18 2. Flex 12 has flex level transition 26 bending from flex circuit portion 24 to flex circuit portion 28. Flex level transition 26 has, in this embodiment, a flexible base layer 62 and a conductive layer 66. In this embodiment, conductive layer 66 contains conductive traces connecting module contacts 20 on flex portion 24 to BGA contacts 63 on ICs 18 1 and 18 2. Flex portion 24 has two layers, but this is not limiting and other embodiments may have other numbers of layers. The number of layers may be devised in a manner to achieve the bend radius required to bend around edge 16A (FIG. 4) or 16B, for example. The number of layers in any particular portion of flex circuit 12 may also be devised to achieve the necessary connection density given a particular minimum trace width associated with the flex circuit technology used.

In this embodiment, there are three layers at flex portion 28 between the two depicted ICs 18 1 and 18 2. Conductive layers 64 and 66 express conductive traces that connect to the ICs and may further connect to other discrete components (not shown). Preferably, the conductive layers are metal such as, for example, copper or alloy 110. Vias such as the exemplar vias 23 connect the two conductive layers 64 and 66 and enable connection between conductive layer 64 and module contacts 20. In this preferred embodiment having a three-layer flex portion 28, the two conductive layers 64 and 66 may be devised in a manner so that one of them has substantial area employed as a ground plane. The other layer may employ substantial area as a voltage reference plane. The use of plural conductive layers provides advantages and the creation of a distributed capacitance intended to reduce noise or bounce effects that can, particularly at higher frequencies, degrade signal integrity, as those of skill in the art will recognize. If more than two conductive layers are employed, additional conductive layers may be added with insulating layers separating conductive layers. Flex circuit portions 28 and 24 may in some embodiments be rigid portions (rigid-flex). Construction of rigid-flex circuitry is known in the art.

With the construction of an embodiment such as that shown in FIG. 6, thermal energy will be urged to move from IC 18 1 into substrate 14 as exemplified by thermal vector T1 and from IC 18 1 into IC 18 2 when IC 18 1 is active. Thus, IC 18 2 assists in cooling IC 18 1, consequently providing improved thermal dissipation as the heat traveling from IC 18 1 travels more readily through flex circuit 12 and the contacts 63 than through less thermally conductive materials such as PCB materials. Further, flex circuit 12 may be particularly devised to operate as a heat spreader or sink adding to the thermal conduction out of ICs 18 1 and 18 2.

FIG. 7 depicts a cutout portion of a flex circuit 12 and substrate 14 according to one preferred embodiment. Flex 12 has openings 17 for use in aligning flex 12 to substrate 14 during assembly. Such alignment may be accomplished by inserting a tooling piece along the path depicted by dotted line 76 through opening 17 on flex 12 and through corresponding opening 17 on substrate 14. Multiple openings 17 which may function as tooling holes may appear in various places. Further, the alignment between flex circuit 12 and substrate 14 may also be implemented, for example, with an opening and protrusion combination such as a slot and tab arrangement or a hole and pin arrangement, for example. Those of skill will be able to readily adapt the teachings of this disclosure to devise corresponding opening and protrusion arrangements for alignment of flex and substrate in accordance with the present invention.

Depicted are indents 72 which may be required by certain card edge connectors. Similar indents will typically appear along edge 16 (FIG. 5) of substrate 14 and may require corresponding holes or indents in flex circuit 12 to match mechanical features on certain card edge connectors.

FIG. 8 depicts another embodiment having a clip. In this embodiment, clip 82 is depicted clipped around ICs 18. Clip 82 is preferably made of metal or other heat conducting material. Preferably, clip 82 has trough 84 devised to mate with the end of substrate 14. The attachment may further be accomplished with adhesive between clip 82 and substrate 14 or ICs 18.

FIG. 9 depicts another embodiment having a thinned portion of substrate 14. In this embodiment, substrate 14 has a first thickness 1 toward edge 16A devised to provide support for an edge and surrounding area of module assembly 10 as may be needed for connection to a card edge connector. Above the portion of substrate 14 with thickness 1 is a portion 92 having thickness 2. The narrower width of portion 92 is devised to narrow the total width of module assembly 10 and may provide for enhanced cooling airflow or more dense spacing of module assemblies 10 in their operating environment.

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of another preferred embodiment. The depiction is facing down. Substrate 14 is selectively thinned at portion 102 under device 104. Depicted device 104 has an exposed die 106 mounted on a substrate. Other embodiments may have otherwise packaged or mounted integrated circuits or other devices with heights greater than the typical IC 18. ICs 18 are in preferred embodiments memory CSPs all having similar heights. In this embodiment, device 104 is taller than the other ICs 18 populating the flex 12. Thinned portion 102 of substrate 14 underneath device 104 accommodates the extra height so that flex 12 remains planer and the upper surface of device 104 contacts substrate 14. Substrate 14 may be manufactured for this or other similar embodiments with a variety of method such as, for example, by being milled with a CNC (computer numerical controlled) machine, or being extruded, for example. This and similar embodiments may be employed to advantage to provide advantageous heat performance when device 104 is a FB-DIMM advanced memory buffer (AMB). Device 104 is preferably attached to substrate 14 with heat conductive adhesive.

FIG. 11 depicts another embodiment having an extended substrate 14. Depicted extension 112 of substrate 14 extends beyond the top of flex 12. Extension 112 is shaped to provide additional surface area for convective cooling. Such shape may be achieved by methods such as, for example, milling or extrusion, which are both known in the art. Preferably, extruded aluminum is used for substrate 14 in this and similar embodiments.

FIG. 12 depicts another embodiment of the invention having additional layers of ICs 18. In this embodiment, four flex level transitions 26 connect to four mounting portions 28. Each mounting portion 28 has ICs 18 on both sides. Flex circuitry 12 may be provided in this configuration by, for example, having a split flex with layers interconnected with vias at portion 24 of flex 12. Further, two flex circuits may be used and interconnected by pad to pad contacts or inter-flex contacts.

FIG. 13 depicts another embodiment having flex portions wrapped around opposing edges of substrate 14. Flex circuit 12 has connecting portion 132 wrapped around form portion 134 of substrate 14. Form portion 134 is a type of perimeter edge 16B shaped to provide a larger surface for transit of the flex circuit. In a preferred methodology for assembling this embodiment, the depicted ICs 18 are first mounted to flex circuit 12. Flex portion 26 associated with IC 18 a is placed in position relative to the substrate. Flex circuit 12 is then wrapped around edge 16 of substrate 14 a first time. Appropriate adhesive lamination or other techniques are used to attach flex 12 and ICs 18 a and 18 b to substrate 14. Connecting portion 132 of flex circuit 12 is wrapped around form portion 134. Adhesive may be used to make back-to-back connections between the depicted ICs 18. Lamination or other adhesive or bonding techniques may be used to attach the two layers of flex 12 to each other at flex portions 24. Further, the two layers of flex circuitry 12 wrapped around edge 16A may interconnected with by pad to pad contacts or inter-flex contacts. Flex 12 is wrapped again around edge 16A, putting IC 18 c into position. IC 18 d is positioned back-to-back with IC 18 e and attached.

FIG. 14 depicts another embodiment having a flex portion wrapped around opposing edges of substrate 14. Flex circuit 12 has connecting portion 132 wrapped around form portion 134 of substrate 14. Connecting portion 132 preferably has more than one conductive layer, and may have three or four or more conductive layers. Such layers may be beneficial to route signals for applications such as, for example, a FB-DIMM (fully-buffered DIMM) which may have less DIMM input/output signals than a registered DIMM, but may have more interconnect traces required among devices on the DIMM, such as, for example, the C/A copy A and C/A copy B (command/address) signals produced by an FB-DIMM advanced memory buffer (AMB). Flex 12 terminates at end 136, which may be at the level of flex portion 28 or may extend to the level of portion 24 and be attached to substrate 14. While two sets of module contacts 20 are shown, other embodiments may have only one set and may not have flex 12 wrapped around edge 16A of substrate 14.

FIG. 15 depicts a cross-sectional view of another alternative embodiment of the present invention. Flex circuit 12 exhibits contacts 20 proximal to opposing edges 192. Connecting portion 132 of flex circuit 12 is wrapped about form portion 134 of substrate 14. Contacts 20 are, in this embodiment, arranged proximal to opposite edges 192 of flex circuit 12. In a preferred methodology for assembling this embodiment, the depicted ICs 18 are first mounted to flex circuit 12. Flex circuit 12 is wrapped about form portion 134 of substrate 14 and preferably aligned to substrate 14 with tooling holes. Portion 24 of flex circuit 12 is preferably laminated to substrate 14.

FIG. 16 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 17 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention having CSPs on the external side of a flex circuit.

FIG. 18 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention having CSPs mounted between a flex circuit and substrate.

FIG. 19 depicts an alternative embodiment of the present invention in which the flex circuit transits over an end of the substrate opposite the module contacts.

FIG. 20 is a preferred embodiment of the present invention similar to that depicted in earlier FIG. 11.

FIGS. 21 and 22 depict an alternative embodiment of the present invention that employs a connector 200 to provide selective interconnection between portions 202A and 202B of flex circuit 12 associated respectively with lateral sides S1 and S2 of substrate 14. The depicted connector 200 has first part 200B and 200A that interconnect in cavity 204 of flex circuit 12. One example of connector 200 is a 500024/50027 Molex connector but a variety of different connectors may be employed in embodiments of the invention. The depicted connector 200 is disposed in substrate cavity and typically will have a first part 200A and a second part 200B.

FIGS. 23 and 24 depict an alternative circuit module. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 23 and 24 flex circuit 12 is a rigid flex. FIG. 23 is an elevation view. FIG. 24 is a cross-sectional view. As shown, flex circuit 12 has two rigid portions 13 connected by a bend 31 at the flexible region. Imposing bend 31 in flex circuit 12 creates an open-ended pocket 32 into which may be at least partially inserted a support or substrate 14 as shown in earlier FIGS. and/or a heat spreader such as heat spreader 152 shown in FIG. 24.

Both rigid portions 13 of flex circuit 12 have ICs 18 mounted on opposing sides. Heat spreader 152 shown between rows of ICs 18, may be attached to the upper major surface of one or both of the depicted ICs 18. Heat spreader 152 is preferably copper or other heat conductive metal or metal alloy. Contacts 20 are presented along the sides of rigid portion 13 proximal to edge 16. Contacts 20 and edge 16 are sized and arranged for insertion into a card edge connector or socket.

FIGS. 25 and 26 depict another alternative circuit module. FIG. 27 is an elevation view. FIG. 28 is a cross-sectional view. In this embodiment, substrate 14 is a circuit board preferably made of FR4 having etched copper layers. ICs 18 are mounted along substrate 14. Additional ICs 18 are mounted along flex circuit 12. Flex circuit 12 if folded over the top edge of substrate 12 to interconnect ICs 18 on flex circuit 12. The depicted adjacent ICs in FIG. 26 may be attached adhesively back-to-back and may be provided with a heat spreader 152 (FIG. 24) between them. Flex level transitions 26 bend from flex portion 28 to flex portion 24. Flex portion 24, in this embodiment, has contacts for electrical connection to substrate 14. Substrate 14 has contacts 20 for connection to a card edge connector or socket.

FIGS. 27 and 28 depict another alternative circuit module. FIG. 28 is an elevation view. FIG. 26 is a cross-sectional view. Flex circuit 12 is bent lengthwise about substrate 14 at bend 204. At bend 202, flex circuit 12 is bent back over heat spreader 152. Preferably, the upper major surfaces of the ICs 18 adjacent to substrate 14 are attached to substrate 14. Flex level transitions 26 A and 26 B bend to align portion 24 of flex circuit 12 for attachment to substrate 14. Flex transition 26 A passes through slot 121 formed in substrate 14. In this alternative embodiment, substrate 14 is shaped in a manner devised to center contacts 20 in the cross-section. Some contacts 20 are depicted on substrate 14. In this embodiment, substrate 14 is preferably a circuit board made of FR4. Portions 24 of flex circuit 12 may have contact pads for electrical connection to corresponding contact pads on substrate 14. In other embodiments, flex circuit 12 may be folded about the edge of substrate 14 or contacts 20 may appear on only one side of module 10.

Although the present invention has been described in detail, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that many embodiments taking a variety of specific forms and reflecting changes, substitutions and alterations can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The described embodiments illustrate the scope of the claims but do not restrict the scope of the claims.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification361/767, 361/749, 361/785, 361/803, 257/E25.023, 361/771
International ClassificationH05K7/10, H05K7/06
Cooperative ClassificationH01L2924/0002, G11C5/04, H05K2201/2018, G11C5/143, H05K2203/1572, H05K1/0203, H01L25/105, H05K1/118, H05K2201/056, H01L25/0652, H05K2201/1056, H05K2201/10734, H05K1/181, H05K3/0061, H05K1/189
European ClassificationG11C5/04, H05K1/18F
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Dec 6, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: STAKTEK GROUP L.P., TEXAS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:GOODWIN, PAUL;CADY, JAMES;WEHRLY, DOUGLAS;REEL/FRAME:016043/0010;SIGNING DATES FROM 20041119 TO 20041129