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HQ 965848

November 14, 2002

CLA-2 RR: CR: GC 965848 TPB


TARIFF NO.: 8543.89.96

Ms. Fusae Nara
Pillsbury Winthrop, LLP.
One Battery Park Plaza
New York, NY 10004-1490

RE: Stacked Chip; Reconsideration of HQ 965052

Dear Ms. Nara:

This is in response to a letter dated August 13, 2002, filed on behalf of Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas (“Sharp”), requesting reconsideration of HQ 965052, dated May 13, 2002. This ruling classified Sharp’s semiconductor product, Model No. LRS1382, under subheading 8543.89.96, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). We have reviewed this ruling in light of the original submission of March 26, 2001, as well as the instant submission. Consideration has also been given to our teleconference meeting held on November 13, 2002. For the reasons set forth below, HQ 965052 is deemed to be correct and is affirmed.


The subject merchandise (“stacked chip”) is chip size package (“CSP”) stacked integrated circuits (“ICs”) which are comprised of a 32 mega bit flash memory and an 8 mega bit static random access memory (“SRAM”). Its size is approximately 8 mm x 11 mm x 1.4 mm, or 0.31 inches x 0.43 inches x 0.06 inches. The stacked chip contains no information at the time of its importation.

Both the flash memory and the SRAM are mounted upon polyimide tape. The flash memory and the SRAM are separated by an insulator. The memory chips are connected to the polyimide tape by numerous gold wires. On the external side of the polyimide tape, 72 extremely tiny solder balls are mounted. Each solder ball is 0.45 mm (approximately 0.0177 inches) in diameter, and the solder balls are placed at 0.8 mm (approximately 0.0312 inches) pitch. The gold wires connect both the flash memory and SRAM to the solder balls through conductors impregnated upon the polyimide tape.

Currently many of the Model No. LRS1382 stacked chips are used in cellular telephones, but the product can be applied to other mobile handheld products, such as personal digital assistants (“PDAs”). The solder balls underneath Model No. LRS1382 are used to incorporate the subject merchandise into the consumer’s product. When the stacked chip is mounted on a printed circuit board of a cellular phone, heat is applied to the solder balls, which then melt and bind the stacked chip on to the printed circuit board.


Are the stacked chips properly classified under heading 8543, which provides for electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions not specified or included elsewhere in chapter 85 and parts thereof, or under heading 8542, which provides for electrical integrated circuits and microassemblies and parts thereof?


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRIs”). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“ENs”) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies; parts thereof:

Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts thereof:

Electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies are described by Note 5(b) to chapter 85, which reads:

(b) “Electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies” are:

Monolithic integrated circuits in which the circuit elements (diodes, transistors, resistors, capacitors, interconnections, etc.) are created in the mass (essentially) and on the surface of a semiconductor material (doped silicon, for example) and are inseparably associated;

Hybrid integrated circuits in which passive elements (resistors, capacitors, interconnections, etc.) obtained by thin- or thick-film technology and active elements (diodes, transistors, monolithic integrated circuits, etc.) obtained by semiconductor technology, are combined to all intents and purposes indivisibly, on a single insulating substrate (glass, ceramic, etc.). These circuits may also include discrete components;

Micorassemblies of the molded module, micromodule or similar types, consisting of discrete, active or both active and passive, components which are combined and interconnected.

For the classification of the articles defined in this note, headings 8541 and 8542 shall take precedence over any other heading in the tariff schedule which might cover them by reference to, in particular, their function.

You claim that the stacked chip is within the meaning of the term “microassemblies “in the legal notes. You argue that because the Model No. LRS1382 is made from flash memory and SRAM, each of which is an active semiconductor component; that these components are interconnected by gold wire; and because the stacked chip is in the form of a molded module in which the components are encased in molded plastic resin, they meet the terms of Note 5(B)(iii) above, and should be classified under subheading 8542.70.00, HTSUS.

EN 85.42 (II) gives guidance as to the meaning of the term “microassemblies.” It states, in pertinent part:

Electronic Microassemblies.

Microassemblies are made from discrete, active or both active and passive components which are combined and interconnected.

Discrete components are indivisible and are the basic electronic construction components in a system. They may have a single active electrical function or a single passive electrical function.

However, components consisting of several electric circuit elements and having multiple electrical functions, such as integrated circuits, are not considered as discrete components. [Emphasis added]

Except for the combinations referred to in Part (I), concerning hybrid integrated circuits, the heading also excludes assemblies formed by mounting one or more discrete components on a support formed, for example by a printed circuit and assemblies formed by adding to an electronic microcircuit either one or more other microcircuits of the same or different types or one or more other devices, such as diodes, transformers, resistors.

Thus, from reading the chapter and explanatory notes together, we understand that discrete components are required to form microassemblies, and that integrated circuits are not considered discrete components. The exclusion note also bars assemblies created from mounting two or more microcircuits together.

From the information provided in both of your submissions, you indicate that the stacked chip is an IC. Your letter of March 26, 2001, reads that:

Sharp is currently manufacturing integrated circuits that combine more than one integrated circuit chip in the IC package. “Stacked chips” hold more than one chip within the standard packaging in order to reduce the size of the finished integrated circuit.

Also, in your submission of August 13, 2002, you indicate:

The subject merchandise is an IC product incorporating two memory chips.

As described above, Model No. LRS1382 is an IC product incorporating two memory chips.

To support your argument for classification as an electronic microassembly, you provide a definition of the term “micoroelectronic assembly” from the JEDED

JEDEC Solid State Technology Association is the semiconductor engineering standardization body of the Electronic Industries Alliance (“EIA”). that reads as follows:

An assembly of unpackaged (uncased) microcircuits and/or packaged microcircuits, which may also include discrete devices, so constructed on a packaging interconnect structure that for the purpose of specification, testing, commerce, and maintenance, the package is considered to be an indivisible component.

NOTE 1 The passive and/or active discrete and microelectronic devices may be mounted on either one or two sides of the packaging interconnect structure, and the external terminals usually exit from one side of the assembly.

NOTE 2 Many package sizes, shapes, and external terminal forms are possible.

JEDEC Dictionary of Terms for Solid State Technology (1st ed. 2001).

That dictionary also defines “microcircuit” as follows:

A microelectronic device that has a high circuit-element and/or component density and that is considered to be a single unit (see also “integrated circuit”.)


And “integrated circuits” as follows:

(IC) A circuit in which all or some of the circuit elements are inseparably associated and electrically interconnected so that it is considered to be indivisible for the purposes of construction and commerce.

NOTE 1 JEDEC and IEC standards on semiconductor integrated circuits generally refer to integrated circuits that are designed as microcircuits.

NOTE 2 To further define the nature of an integrated circuit, additional qualifiers may be prefixed. Examples include

X single-chip integrated circuit,
X multichip integrated circuit,
X thin-film integrated circuit,
X thick-film integrated circuit,
X hybrid film integrated circuit,
X hybrid conductor integrated circuit.


From the definitions above, we see that even in industry standards, there is overlap in the use of terms. Although we find guidance in the definitions provided by the trade, we must give deference to any definitions or guidance provided by the Tariff and the ENs.

You argue that the stacked chip meets the JEDEC definition of a “microelectronic assembly” because it is an assembly of packaged microcircuits incorporating active elements (i.e., SRAM and flash memory chips). However, the ENs provide certain exclusions to what can be considered micorassemblies.

In our teleconference on November 13, 2002, you indicated that Additional U.S. Note 1 to Section XVI, HTSUS Additional U.S. Note 1 to Section XVI reads as follows:

For the purposes of this section, the term “printed circuit assembly” means goods consisting of one or more printed circuits of heading 8534 with one or more active elements assembled thereon, with or without passive elements. For purposes of this note, “active elements” means diodes, transistors and similar semiconductor devices, whether or not photosensitive, of heading 8541, and integrated circuits and microassemblies of heading 8542., is evidence that an integrated circuit is an “active” component. We concur with this conclusion, as it applies to “printed circuit assemblies.” However, Additional U.S. Note 1 to Section XVI is referring to a term that we are not construing. That note provides a definition for the term “printed circuit assemblies” for the purposes of Section XVI, and also provides a definition for the term “active elements” for the purposes of that particular note. We do not read the Additional U.S. Note 1 to Section XVI to expand the scope of the definition to other terms outside of that note.

The flash memory and SRAM are themselves also integrated circuits. The stacked chip IC itself is made up of two ICs and other components. The flash memory and SRAM are separate “microcircuits,” which are not discrete components, but an electrical circuit whose components are intertwined. These ICs are mounted on a lead-frame to create a memory board. These memory boards also contain other components such as connector pins and wire leads, which are non-electrical components. The exclusion to EN 85.42 indicates that the heading excludes assemblies that are formed by adding to an electronic microcircuit either one or more other microcircuits of the same or different types or one or more other devices, which is what we have in this case. As such, the stacked chip is precluded from classification under 8542, HTSUS.

You argue that in the alternative, Sharp believes that the stacked chip may be classified as a hybrid integrated circuit. You indicate that the polyimide tape is used as a substrate and a film circuit is formed on the surface of the tape by using electrolythic plating method or electroless plating method or both. However, note 4 to chapter 85, HTSUS, states, in pertinent part, that:

For the purposes of heading 8534 “printed circuits” are circuits obtained by forming on an insulating base, by any printing process (for example, embossing, plating-up, etching) or by “film circuit” technique [Emphasis added]

Thus, plating is a printing process dissimilar to film technology. As hybrid integrated circuits are obtained with thick- or thin- film technology Note 5(b)(ii) above., and stacked chips are obtained by plating methods, they do not meet the requirements to be considered hybrid integrated circuits.

Finally, you argue that the stacked chip cannot be classified under heading 8443, HTSUS, because Note 5(b) to chapter 85, HTSUS, requires consideration of headings 8541 and 8542 before considering any other headings, and that HQRL 965052 failed to consider the classification of a stacked chip under heading 8542, HTSUS. Having considered and declined to classify the instant goods in heading, consideration of heading 8543 is appropriate.

You argue that heading 8543, HTSUS, explicitly states that “[t]he electrical appliances and apparatus of [heading 8543] must have individual functions,” and the EN requires that the rule governing “individual functions” under heading 8479 EN 84.79 reads, in pertinent part:

For this purpose, the following are to be regarded as having “individual functions”:


Mechanical devices which cannot perform their function unless they are mounted on another machine or appliance, or are incorporated in a more complex entity, provided that this function:
is distinct from that which is performed by the machine or appliance whereon they are to be mounted, or by the entity wherein they are to be incorporated, and
does not play an integral and inseparable part in the operation of such machine, appliance or entity. be applicable, mutatis mutandis, to the appliances and apparatus of heading 8543.

We find that the stacked chip does have an individual function: it is incorporated into cellular phones and PDAs to provide volatile and non-volatile memory for the device. Thus, it comports with the requirements of EN 84.79 as it pertains to “individual functions.” The memory function is distinct from that of whichever device it is mounted to. Further, we have not found any indication that at the time of its importation, this IC plays an integral and inseparable part in the operation of the device in which it will be mounted. It is imported blank, without any indication of what device it will ultimately reside in or what function it will serve, and without evidence to the contrary, will not assume the stacked chip to be an integral and inseparable part of some machine.


For the reasons stated above, the stacked chip, Model No. LRS1382 is to be classified under subheading 8543.89.96, HTSUS, as: “Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts thereof: Other: Other.”

HQ 965052, dated May 13, 2002, is affirmed.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director

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