Microchips are hot.

The tiny bits of silicon are integral to 21st-century life because they power the smartphones we rely on, the cars we drive and the advanced weaponry that is the backbone of national security. They’re so important that the disruption of the microchip supply chain during the pandemic became an urgent national security issue.

Also, microchips are literally hot.

Those tiny chips have mighty computing power, which builds up heat around the microchip. From the beginning, in the 1950s, manufacturers designed packaging — the materials around the chips — to mitigate heat, provide protection and enable electrical current to flow.

Over the decades, as the chips became more powerful, the packaging became more sophisticated.

Now, “advanced packaging” is a critical part of the design and manufacture of chips, not only to protect them from the heat generated by ever-increasing power but also as a way to actually improve their performance — critical as the strategy of adding more transistors on ever smaller chips, the practice that has driven the industry since the 1960s, reaches both its financial and physical limits.

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