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October 24, 2003

Cochlear inks deal with Tessera

From: Dial Infolink Electronics, Australia - Oct 24, 2003

By Ry Crozier

Cochlear has signed a long-term licensing agreement with US-based Tessera to incorporate the latter’s MicroBGA semiconductor packaging technology into the Nucleus implant system.

While refusing to comment on financial specifics of the deal, Cochlear chief technology officer Dr John Parker told Electronics News the agreement is the result of extensive investment and evaluation of the technology by Cochlear.

“This is a long-term agreement,” Dr Parker stresses. “We have the intention of employing MicroBGA in the next generation of Nucleus products, which are not due for commercial release for at least four to five years.”

Dr Parker says Cochlear is currently manufacturing Nucleus implants at a rate of 10,000 per annum and growing at a rate of 20 percent each year. At that rate, the technology could be incorporated into as many as 75,000 implants even before the next generation system is introduced.

Tessera’s license with Cochlear includes over 150 patents covering Tessera’s Compliant Chip technology. This technology covers a broad range of chip-scale and multi-chip package types, including integrated circuit devices packaged in face-down, face-up, fold-over, stacked, and system-in-package (SiP) formats. marketed by Tessera as MicroBGA for face-down orientations, MicroBGA-F for face-up orientations, and MicroZ for multi-chip solutions.

“We chose Tessera because it is the only MicroBGA to be qualified at the reliability levels we require for our products,” Dr Parker explains. “Also, unlike flip-chip technologies which can only be assembled under special conditions, MicroBGA can be integrated using standard pick-and-place equipment, so the back-end manufacturing required is a lot simpler.”

Tessera says MicroBGA is also suited to medical applications due to its small form factor. Cochlear’s Nucleus implant system includes implantable hearing devices designed to allow individuals with severe to profound hearing loss to perceive sound.

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