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March - 2015 - issue > 20 Most Promising Semiconductor Companies 2015
Sierra Circuits Empowering the Semiconductor Industry with Time-to- Market Advantages
SI Team
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
The real purpose of any organization is to work toward identifying the core challenges in the industry and deploy differentiated approach for tackling them. Headquartered in the Silicon Valley, Sierra Circuits continues to be successful throughout the industry's most critical challenges due to their keen focus on semiconductors.

"The current semiconductor landscape requires high density printed circuit boards (PCBs) and substrates with ultra-fine features capable of carrying the new breed of fine pitch chip scale devices. The challenge is perfecting PCB technologies to be able to carry devices directly onto the PCB chip scale without the need for intermediate packaging technology or interposer boards," states Ken Bahl, Sierra Circuits CEO.

Through their sustained R&D efforts, Sierra Circuits has developed innovative and unconventional PCB technologies capable of manufacturing cost-effective fineline PCBs.

The PCBs manufactured using these unconventional technologies are comprised of ultra fine features such as 25 micron line widths and space with significant yields. As a result, lowering the cost of fine-featured PCBs becomes an easy task. This technology has the potential to shorten the manufacturing cycle time and lower the cost of PCB production. Furthermore, it is equipped with the potential for improving the electrical performance of the electronic
circuitry at very high frequencies.

Sierra Circuits has served over 20,000 designers, innovators and technical experts since 1986, having manufactured and assembled high-end prototype PCBs on fast turn times. With over 45,000 square feet comprising their PCB manufacturing facility and a 10,000 square foot PCB assembly facility, Sierra turns the highly complex and multiple-step process of PCB manufacturing into a simpler one. Another aspect that enables Sierra to maintain an edge over competitors is their constant research and development toward improving the manufacturing processes and developing cutting edge technology. "We sell time and technology. Our production turnaround time is faster than our competitors and we have always been ahead with respect to the use of technology. This is the way Sierra has minimized local and offshore competition," Ken continues.
In one instance, Bates Research and Engineering Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was engaged by the Brookhaven laboratory to design readout electronics for an upgrade to the detector system of the STAR experiment at the RHIC. The initial prototype readout module for the STAR tracker ganged five APV25 chips wire-bonded directly to a printed circuit board. The first prototype module was a composite of two boards laminated together, which distributed the chips' inputs via bond wires to edge connectors. It was very expensive to fabricate and assemble, and permitted no rework once a chip was bonded to the board. Sierra Circuits fabricated the BGA substrates, as well as the boards for the tracker modules, which each monitor 640 channels. This caused a 94 percent yield to be achieved.

Sierra Circuits as a PCB manufacturing and assembly company is certified for the following quality standards and procedures: ISO:90001, ISO:13485 (for medical devices), and MIL-SPEC (for the military, defense and aerospace industries). They have been servicing the needs of defense, aerospace, semiconductor and mission-critical applications for several decades. "Because of our extensive use of technology, there is minimal room for human-error in Sierra's manufacturing process. Besides, no other competitors can match the levels of quality extended by Sierra towards technically advanced PCBs," comments Ken. Through 2015, many of the patented products from Sierra will be introduced to the market. "These technologies are truly revolutionary and could drive the future electronic industry," states Ken.

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