The current generation of mobile devices is dictating product development trends.
Taiwan’s IC substrate industry continues to expand, with the latest array of mobile devices stimulating production.
Makers of IC-substrate connection are using flip chip or FC technology, particularly for mobile phone andsmartphone chipsets. The process adopts solder bumps to replace the gold wire in wire-bounded versions, enhancing signal density, package yield rate and IC performance.
Flip-chip models, however, are quoted higher, with more expensive raw materials used making up 50 to 65 percent of overall costs.
For substrate and PCB connection, an increasing number of companies employ BGA and CSP packaging methods. Raw materials account for 40 to 50 percent of the outlay in both. The other processes are PGA and LGA.
The FC-BGA, FC-PGA, FC-LGA, CSP and PBGA are the leading types, Based on production value, but the last two record higher yield.
The FC-PGA variant is a major focus for CPU and high-end telecom ICs, according to Nanya Printed Circuit Board Corp. It allows for a high I/O count and 100μm bump pitch. The maker said it is also developing new materials for the insulating film.
Suppliers leverage the IC substrate’s high technology barrier and investment to enhance the line further and attract more chipset suppliers to source from established hubs in the area. The island accounts for 23 percent of the global market, second only to Japan, which covers 57 percent. Its output value in 2011 reached $11.8 billion, increasing 26 percent from $1.42 billion the previous year.
IC substrates are widely used in processors, wireless computer and telecom chipsets, RF modules, computer set-top boxes, telecom equipment, digital home devices and smartphones.
The last and tablet PCs drive sales of FC-CSP types. This version offers high frequency, low pin count, light weight and thin form factor. Varieties account for 10 percent of total substrate shipment volume.
The 3D IC packaging technology is emerging to meet the demand for smaller and more chips. Silicon and glass are the primary materials for IC and substrate, with TSV applied to produce interposers that connect small and large line spaces, according to the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center.
In 2011, Unimicron Technology Corp. released FC-CSP models with a 400μm ball, 40μm trace and 140μm FC bump pitch values. The 2L substrate thickness is 130μm and the 4L 210μm. This year, makers hope to achieve 300μm ball, 30μm trace and 130μm FC bump pitch, and 100μm 2L substrate thickness and 170μm for 4L.
Low-priced smartphones, however, are expected to drive mobile handset shipments in 2012. The WB-CSP models will therefore gain momentum via entry-level phones.
IC packaging: Testing sectors gain ground
Note: All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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