Passive components are important contributors to the miniaturization of most electronic products. Passives include capacitors, resistors, piezoelectrics, and coils. Heavy reliance on analog circuitry requires a large number of passive components to be used in consumer products like VCRs, camcorders, and cellular phones. In Hitachi's video camera, for example, there are currently 475 passive components required. Current development plans will reduce that number to 290, as illustrated in Figure 4.16. Continued miniaturization is expected to reduce power consumption as the number of ICs and passive components are decreased for smaller and lighter products. The miniaturization trend for coils and capacitors is illustrated in Table 4.9.
Figure 4.16. Components trend in camcorders (Hitachi).
As with plastic and ceramic packaging technologies, Japanese firms also lead in passive component technologies. Three Japanese companies, Murata, TDK, and Kyocera (AVX in the United States), account for most of the world market in this industry.
Japanese investments in passive component developments are aimed at continued reduction of cost and size rather than increased integration. Integration was used to achieve miniaturization requirements, but was often considered to be a higher-cost or next-generation alternative. The primary R&D activities pursued by Murata, as an example, include the following:
The JTEC panel was most impressed with the passive component technology and manufacturing capabilities of the Japanese firms visited. Companies like Murata and TDK, for example, have highly automated factories and produce their own in-house equipment to manufacture millions of parts, some the size of poppy seeds, using multilayer metalization and dielectrics.