Comprehensive Introduction to BGA (Ball Grid Array)

With IC chips serving as the engine of modern electronic information technology, they play a crucial role in various fields of the national economy and social development. However, despite the widespread focus on the tens of thousands of components integrated inside the chip, the external packaging that protects these components is often overlooked. Packaging provides a protective casing for the chip, allowing it to withstand the influence of the surrounding environment.

As chip functionality continues to advance, with internal component counts reaching the millions, a series of performance-related issues has emerged, particularly in terms of heat dissipation. To address these challenges, a new packaging technology—BGA packaging—has emerged. BGA not only meets the demand for high pin density in devices but also provides cavities to enhance the chip’s heat dissipation capabilities, making it a popular choice in IC packaging. This article will delve into BGA packaging, covering its definition, different types, and the manufacturing process of BGA PCBA boards.

bga package

Table of Contents

What is BGA in Electronics

BGA, or Ball Grid Array, is a novel SMD chip packaging technology widely used in high-density PCB designs. The most notable difference from traditional perimeter packaging is that BGA packaging arranges its pins in a grid pattern of solder balls on the bottom of the chip. The image below illustrates three common BGA arrays:

BGA array type

The introduction of BGA technology aims to overcome issues associated with traditional packaging methods, such as complex soldering, insufficient pin density, and reliability problems caused by fine pins. In contrast, BGA packaging effectively addresses these challenges by employing spherical connection points. Here are the advantages of BGA chip packaging:

  • Solder points are easier to control, reducing soldering difficulty.
  • The packaging body is located at the bottom of the chip, effectively saving PCB surface space.
  • Evenly distributed spherical connection points exhibit higher mechanical stability, resisting external physical impacts.
  • The cavities formed between spherical connection points facilitate the heat dissipation of high-power chips.
  • BGA components are directly connected to the printed circuit board, shortening signal paths, reducing resistance and inductance, and significantly improving electrical performance.

Despite the advantages brought by BGA technology, designers need to be aware of some drawbacks to make informed decisions:

  • Connection points located at the bottom of the chip are invisible and difficult to access, making repairs or replacements challenging.
  • Compared to dual in-line pin configurations, BGA ball arrays are challenging for manual assembly, requiring more precise equipment and technology, leading to increased costs.
  • Gas generated by the thermal decomposition of flux during soldering may cause voids between the package and solder pad.
  • Traditional AOI devices have limitations in detecting the assembly quality of BGA components.
  • BGA components are generally more sensitive, requiring additional electrostatic protection and careful storage maintenance.

BGA Package Variants

PBGAPlastic is used as the packaging materialCost-effective, versatileGeneral-purpose packaging
TBGASmall balls connected via a strip carrierEasy to manufacture and installHigh-performance applications
FCBGAUses flip-chip packaging, the chip’s active surface connects directly to the PCB without wire bondingLower profile heightCompact layout designs
uBGAMicro Ball Grid Array packaging with tiny spherical connection pointsSmall size, lightweightHigh-density integrated circuits
CCGAColumn-shaped connection points made of ceramic materialHigher connection strength and temperature coefficientHigh-temperature and high-frequency applications
TFBGALow-profile, fine-pitch Ball Grid Array packaging technologyLower profile height, smaller pitch, high-density pinsLightweight and compact designs

Successful BGA PCBA Manufacturing

During the initial stages of design, confirming the position and quantity of BGA components is a primary task. It is recommended to prioritize placing major BGA components during the layout for better overall planning, determining layer count, and choosing fan-out strategies. When selecting the layer count, ensure there are enough layers to accommodate internal interconnections. Additionally, the choice of fan-out strategy should be based on the number and density of BGA pins. Manufacturers will produce PCBs with BGA pads based on your design files.

BGA PCB design

In the manufacturing phase, BGA pads are formed in the BGA pad area through processes like chemical or electroplating of copper to ensure smooth transmission of electrical signals after soldering. Next, a solder mask is applied to prevent short circuits in non-soldering areas, enhancing the stability of subsequent soldering processes.

PCB with BGA pads

Due to the high pin density of BGA package, manual assembly and soldering are challenging. Pick-and-place machines are commonly used for positioning and placement. After confirming the quality of component placement, the assembly proceeds to the soldering area. For BGA assembly, reflow soldering is the preferred choice, where the solder material melts and solidifies through proper heating and cooling processes, ensuring a strong connection between the component and the solder pad.

BGA package component assembly

After the PCBA process is completed, Automated optical inspection is a common method of testing. However, AOI has limitations for BGA assembly, such as difficulty seeing all solder joints due to some balls being blocked by others, making it challenging to inspect coating and connection quality. Therefore, X-ray inspection is often employed to identify BGA defects.

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