During DesignCon 2018, I spoke with Tarun Amla, the executive vice president and CTO of ITEQ. We discussed ITEQ’s future plans, including the development of materials for cutting-edge technology needs, such as autonomous and electric vehicles, as well as 5G technology.
Andy Shaughnessy: How are you doing, Tarun? For anybody who's not familiar with ITEQ, why don't you give us a quick background?
Tarun Amla: Good to see you, Andy. ITEQ is headquartered in Taiwan. It started in 1997, so we just recently celebrated our 20th anniversary, and it's grown very rapidly. We are approximately 21 billion NT, which is about US$700 million in revenue. We have facilities in China—one in Wuxi, and another in Dongguan, and both are copper clad laminate manufacturing facilities. Additionally, we have a flexible copper clad laminate factory and an HDI factory in Guangdong, and then in the same area we have a mass lam facility. We are placed probably sixth globally in terms of revenue. It's been a story of great growth for us at ITEQ.
Shaughnessy: I understand you have some pretty interesting things you're working on for 2018.
Amla: Yes. What we're really excited about is that whatever's happening in the economy on a global scale—there's buoyancy out there. There's a lot of new technology coming to the fore. There's 5G deployment that's going to start somewhere around '19, '20, and there's autonomous driving, which is finding root; a lot of people are investing in it, and it creates demand for new materials that didn't exist before. Our roadmap is aligned to come up with new products which basically enable these technologies.
When the cloud revolution was happening, and people were installing these server farms, they needed lower-loss products, and that's what ITEQ had been focused on developing in the last few years. Now we've moved towards developing products that enable extremely high digital speeds up to 56 gigabits per second and beyond, 112 gigabits per second with the change in signaling and coding.
On our drawing board now are products that are going to enable autonomous driving, for radars going into the millimeter wave, products for 5G applications, products for cell phone applications, and for the EV revolution, because the electrical vehicles are taking over. A lot of governments have made commitments, like in China and Europe, and most of these cars will require a lot of fast charging stations, which, again, puts a huge demand on the material itself; these stations will be pushing electrical current at very high voltages through materials that must withstand these voltages without dielectric breakdown.
What is a problem for the industry is an opportunity for us, so we’re trying to create materials that can withstand these high stresses and enable the use of these technologies. We're very excited about this. The same thing is happening out there in the space industry, requiring materials which are lighter, faster, and more durable.
Shaughnessy: It seems like electric and autonomous vehicles would use more heavy copper.
Amla: Yes. There's going to be a heavy copper, but there are also technologies where people are learning to do more with less, so that's been the theme so far. When the high-speed digital revolution started, copper was supposed to be able to stand only five gigabits per second, and now we're approaching 112 Gbps. The same thing is happening here; where they needed six and 12 oz. copper, people have innovated and started using 3 oz. copper instead. That's happening.
To read this entire article, which appeared in the April 2018 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.