Packaging Materials Trends — Mobility is the Key Market Driver
By Jan Vardaman, TechSearch International, and Dan Tracy, SEMI
The electronics industry trend towards smaller and thinner form factors has ushered an era of significant changes in packaging materials. As these trends continue, innovative material solutions will be needed to address demanding requirements related to product integration, mobility, and reliability. Mobile electronics — especially smartphones and tablet computers — are the major unit volume drivers for semiconductor device sales and have unique packaging requirements. Given the compact form-factors and demands for connectivity, advanced packaging technologies such as wafer-level packaging (WLP), flip chip packaging for wireless, and package-on-package (PoP) deliver the necessary device integration needed in a thinner and smaller form factor package, and materials technologies are key in enabling this trend.
According to the upcoming SEMI Global Semiconductor Packaging Materials Outlook—2013-2014 Edition, the outlook for advanced packaging remains strong. These packages include ball grid array (BGA), CSP (including leadframe-based QFNs), flip chip, WLP, and various 3-D packages such as stacked-die and PoP. TechSearch has shown that 15 percent of 190 billion packaged ICs shipped in 2012 were in advanced packaging form factors, and this will grow to an estimated 21 percent of the 244 billion units to be shipped in 2017. Flip chip packaged units will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 percent between 2012 and 2017 with wireless products driving the growth. Over the same timeframe, WLP, which has already experience strong growth in unit shipments, is forecasted to grow at an 11 percent CAGR due to the strength in the mobile sector.
Advancements in materials technology and new materials will be needed to solve challenges pertaining to device and system integration and to package and system reliability. New materials and processes will enable the semiconductor industry to advance scaling in packaging down to the 16nm node and below. Semiconductor manufacturers and packaging subcontractors have identified a number of concerns, unmet material needs, and opportunities for material suppliers. The table below summarizes some general issues and topics identified particular material segment.
Key Issues and Concerns of Users of Packaging Materials
Issues, Concerns, and Needs
Mold Compounds/ Encapsulants
Wafer Level Dielectrics
Thermal Interface Materials
Source: SEMI Industry Research & Statistics and TechSearch International, November 2013
Not included in the table summary is the oft repeated and obvious call for lower cost material solutions desired by the manufacturers across the various material segments. The needs and solutions identified in the table encompass the materials challenges with 3D integration and wafer-level packaging in addition to the single package solutions that continue to dominate the market.
The information in this article was derived from the Global Semiconductor Packaging Materials Outlook—2013-2014 Edition, produced by SEMI and TechSearch International. The report will be published later in the fourth quarter and is based on information obtained from well over 100 in-depth interviews conducted with semiconductor manufacturers, packaging subcontractors, and packaging materials suppliers throughout the world.
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November 5, 2013