A Changing Packaging Materials Market

A Changing Packaging Materials Market

Market Implements New Materials and New Processes

By Dan Tracy, senior director, SEMI Industry Research & Statistics

Materials are critical in enhancing the performance and improving the reliability of semiconductor packaging.  And with the burst of new packaging form factors available for increasing device integration, coupled with green initiatives, material sets have changed in this sector over the past number of years.  

Over the past decade, the packaging materials market has grown at a compound annual growth rate of about 11 percent, which is in part a reflection of the material changes.  Packaging materials consumption, as measured as a percentage of overall semiconductor device sales, has increased since 2006 (see chart). The period of “decreasing” materials consumption from the late 1980s through the mid-1990s reflects the industry transition to plastic-based surface-mounted packages from ceramic-based packages.  In the 2000’s, we have seen the introduction of new form factors and configurations like stacked-die, package-on-package, wafer-level, and several other packaging types, and many of these packages require new materials and advanced substrates, thus the increase in the percentage of packaging materials revenues to semiconductor revenues.

Packaging Materials Revenue

(In part, the growing materials consumption reflects higher gold metal pricing, though subtracting wire out of the equation material “intensity” has indeed grown in packaging.  The gold metal pricing issue has spurred the strong growth in copper wire bonding across the industry).

Packaging presents many challenges and opportunities for material suppliers going forward, especially advanced packaging technologies that are front-end/fab oriented such as wafer bumping redistribution, some wafer level approaches, and Through Silicon Via (TSV).  Coupling these technologies with leading-edge device geometries that will use more brittle ultra low-k materials in the device, the selection of packaging materials can have a big impact on the device reliability and performance.

Some of the advanced packaging technologies require newer materials and processes such as temporary bonding materials, new generation of underfill and encapsulants, dielectrics, and chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) slurries. While not new to the semiconductor industry, CMP is new to packaging. For TSV related processing, slurry suppliers can leverage their existing know-how developed for copper interconnects, though control of dishing in the larger TSV feature sizes and the higher copper removal rate are a new challenges to be addressed.

Any new material must be compatible with high-volume manufacturing of high yielding and high reliability packages. Material suppliers need to address trade-offs when optimizing material chemistries and formulations regarding stress performance, moisture absorption, adhesion strength, cure temperature, and other properties.

In addition to the technical challenges, suppliers need to understand the market opportunities and issues.  For example, how large will the new materials markets be?  The underfill market was about $200 million in 2011 and is forecasted to reach $300 million by 2015. Over 20 suppliers are competing in this relatively small market that will require new and enhanced materials for advanced packaging applications.  Suppliers of wafer level dielectrics face a similar market situation.

Come learn and hear discussions of these and other packaging related issues and opportunities at SEMICON West 2012 from July 10-12. Several sessions are focused on semiconductor packaging:

Special thank you to Jan Vardaman of TechSearch International and Michael Fury of Techcet Group for comments and information used in the article.

In addition, some of the market information in this article was derived from the Global Semiconductor Packaging Materials Outlook—2011-2012 Edition produced by SEMI and TechSearch International. In developing this report, over 140 in-depth interviews were conducted with semiconductor manufacturers, packaging subcontractors and packaging materials suppliers throughout the world.


TO ORDER YOUR COPY of Global Semiconductor Packaging Materials Outlook—2011-2012 Edition, please contact Dr. Dan P. Tracy, research development director, Industry Research and Statistics, SEMI via email at dtracy@semi.org, or telephone 1.408.943.7987 or facsimile 1.408.943.7915. REQUEST A SAMPLE: You can also click here to request a sample.


June 5, 2012