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Exploring the Applications of COB and BOX Packaging

Posted on Sep 12, 2023 by
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Impact of Optical Device Packaging Process on the Performance of Optical Modules

With the rapid advancement of technology, applications such as 5G, big data, blockchain, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT)  continue to progress, leading to an unprecedented increase in data traffic. The widespread adoption of optical fiber has driven the global communication market infrastructure towards an all-optical network direction. As a result, the inventory of optical communication equipment is growing, and the application of high-speed optical modules is also increasing.

To meet the demands of different applications and consider economic benefits, optical modules have evolved with both hermetic packaging (To-can and BOX) and non-hermetic packaging (COB). In outdoor environments with significant temperature and humidity variations, such as in telecommunications-grade applications, laser chips are susceptible to corrosion from water vapor, and temperature has a notable impact on the wavelength. Therefore, it is common to employ hermetic packaging, where the laser chip is sealed within an enclosure filled with inert gas. Conversely, in data center applications, where optimized working environments are achieved through the implementation of air conditioning and environmental monitoring equipment, and cost control becomes crucial due to the large-scale use of optical modules, non-hermetic packaging technologies have gradually emerged.

To meet the demands of different applications and consider economic benefits, optical modules have evolved with both hermetic packaging (To-can and BOX) and non-hermetic packaging (COB).

A Comparative Analysis of COB and BOX Packaging

COB (Chip-on-Board) packaging is a non-hermetic packaging technology that directly mounts chips onto a substrate, connecting the chip to the pins on the substrate through soldering or wire bonding. It offers a smaller package size and higher integration, enabling more compact and high-density optical module designs. Compared to box packaging, COB provides greater flexibility and facilitates manufacturing, maintenance, and cost control. COB demonstrates excellent electrical and thermal performance, making it widely applied in the optical transceiver industry, particularly in data center scenarios.

COB (Chip-on-Board) packaging is a non-hermetic packaging technology that directly mounts chips onto a substrate, connecting the chip to the pins on the substrate through soldering or wire bonding.

BOX packaging, also known as hermetic packaging, employs airtight sealing technology to encapsulate the key components of an optical module within a metal box. This ensures effective protection of the optical module from external environmental influences. It provides excellent mechanical strength and protection, resulting in higher reliability and stability even in harsh environmental conditions. BOX packaging offers more stable optical and electrical performance and finds widespread application in the telecommunications industry, particularly in long-distance transmission modules.

BOX packaging, also known as hermetic packaging, employs airtight sealing technology to encapsulate the key components of an optical module within a metal box.

Compare COB vs. BOX packaging transceiver optics in the following aspects:

Compare Difference 
 Chip on Board Optics  BOX Packaging Optics
 Manufacturing Cost  Lower  Higher
 Suitable Transceiver  SR Optics, PSM4 Optics, AOC  LR Optics, LR4 Optics, ER4 Optics, ZR4 Optics
 Application Scenarios  Data Center, 10G/40G/100G Ethernet  Telecom, Data Center, 10G/40G/100G Ethernet, 5G Wireless Network
 Manufacturing Complexity  Medium
High

In summary, the main differences between COB and BOX packaging for transceiver optical devices lie in performance variations, different usage scenarios, and manufacturing costs.

Considerations for Choosing COB and BOX Packaging Modules

Based on the aforementioned comparison, COB and BOX packaging exhibit differences in packaging density, heat dissipation performance, and reliability. Therefore, the choice between COB and BOX packaging for optical modules should be based on the specific application requirements and priorities. If the application demands high integration and compact packaging, with relatively lower heat dissipation requirements, such as low-power applications in data center optical modules, COB packaging is typically more suitable. On the other hand, if the application involves harsh environmental conditions, such as high temperatures, humidity, or mechanical shocks, with higher heat dissipation requirements, such as telecom-grade applications, BOX packaging is generally more appropriate.

Summary

When selecting optical modules, in addition to packaging technology, there are other aspects to consider. For example, choosing the appropriate type and specifications of optical modules based on application requirements to meet the desired transmission rate and distance. Opting for low-power optical modules can reduce energy consumption and improve system efficiency. It is essential to ensure that the selected optical modules conform to the interface standards and specifications of the system to ensure proper communication and interoperability. 

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