It’s all about packaging – in this material world, who is your partner?

By Dr. Dan Tracy, Senior Director, Industry Research and Statistics, SEMI

With the recent release of Apple’s 6s and the form factors of internet enabled mobile devices and the emergence of the IoT (Internet of Things), advanced packaging is clearly the enabling technology providing solutions for mobile applications and for semiconductor devices fabricated at 16 nm and below process nodes. These packages are forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 15% through 2019.  In addition, the packaging technologies have evolved and continue to evolve so to meet the growing integration requirements needed in newer generations of mobile electronics. Materials are a key enabler to increasing the functionality of thinner and smaller package designs and for increasing the functionality of system-in-package solutions.

Figure 1:  Packaging Technology Evolution – Great Complexity in Smaller, Thinner Form Factors, courtesy of TechSearch International, Inc.

Figure 1: Packaging Technology Evolution – Great Complexity in Smaller, Thinner Form Factors, courtesy of TechSearch International, Inc.

The observations related to mobile products include:

  • New package form factors to satisfy high-performance, high-bandwidth, and low power consumption requirements in a thinner and smaller package.
  • Packaging solutions to deliver systems-in-package capabilities while satisfying low-cost requirements.
  • Shorter lifetimes and differing reliability requirements. For example, high-end smartphones and tablets, the key high reliability requirement is to pass the drop test; and packaging material solutions are essential to delivering such reliability.
  • Shorter production ramp times to meet time-to-market demands of end product. This is becoming critical and causes redundancy in capacity to be required, capacity that is underutilized for part of the year

Packaging must provide a low-cost solution and have an infrastructure in place to meet steep ramps in electronic production. The move towards bumping and flip chip has only accelerated with the growth in mobile electronics, though leadframe and wirebond technologies remain as important low-cost alternatives for many devices. Wafer bumping has been a major packaging market driver for over a decade, and with the growth in mobile the move towards wafer bumping and flip chip has only accelerated with finer pitch copper pillar bump technology ramping up. Mobile also drives wafer-level packaging (WLP) and Fan-Out (FO) WLP. New wafer level dielectric materials and substrate designs are required for these emerging package form factors.

Going forward, the wearable and IoT markets will have varying packaging requirements depending on the application, the end use environment, and reliability needs. Thin and small are a must though like other applications cost versus performance will determine what package type is adopted for a given wearable product, so once more leadframe and wirebonded packages could be the preferred solution. And in many wearable applications, materials solutions must provide a lightweight and flexible package.

Such packaging solutions will remain the driver for materials consumption and new materials development, and the outlook for these packages remain strong. Materials will make possible even smaller and thinner packages with more integration and functionality.  Low cost substrates, matrix leadframe designs, new underfill, and die attach materials are just some solutions to reduce material usage and to improve manufacturing throughput and efficiencies.

SEMI and TechSearch International are once again partnering to prepare a comprehensive market analysis of how the current packaging technology trend will impact the packaging manufacturing materials demand and market.  The new edition of “Global Semiconductor Packaging Materials Outlook” (GSPMO) report is a detailed market research study in the industry that quantifies and highlights opportunities in the packaging material market. This new SEMI report is an essential business tool for anyone interested in the plastic packaging materials arena. It will benefit readers to better understand the latest industry and economic trends, the packaging material market size and trend, and the respective market drivers in relation to a forecast out to 2019. For example, FO-WLP is a disruptive technology that impacts the packaging materials segment and the GSPMO addresses this impact.



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