Commercial-off-the-shelf column/ball grid array packaging (COTS CGA/BGA) technologies in high-reliability versions are now being considered for use in high-reliability electronic systems. For space applications, these packages are prone to early failure due to the severe thermal cycling in ground testing and during flight, mechanical shock and vibration of launch, as well as other less severe conditions, such as mechanical loading during descent, rough terrain mobility, handling, and ground tests. As the density of these packages increases and the size of solder interconnections decreases, susceptibility to thermal, mechanical loading and cycling fatigue grows even more.

This paper reviews technology as well as thermo-mechanical reliability of field programmable gate array (FPGA) IC packaging developed to meet demands of high processing powers. The FPGAs that generally come in CGA/PBGA packages now have more than thousands of solder balls/columns under the package area. These packages need not only to be correctly joined onto printed circuit board (PCB) for interfacing; they also should show adequate system reliability for meeting thermo-mechanical requirements of the electronics hardware application. Such reliability test data are rare or none for harsher environmental applications, especially for CGAs having more than a thousand of columns.

The paper also presents significant test data gathered under thermal cycling and drop testing for high I/O PBGA/CGA packages assembled onto PCBs. Damage and failures of these assemblies after environmental exposures are presented in detail. Understanding the key design parameters and failure mechanisms under thermal and mechanical conditions is critical to developing an approach that will minimize future failures and will enable low-risk insertion of these advanced electronic packages with high processing power and in-field re-programming capability.

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