Last week, ASE and Inotera Memories announced they had entered into a joint development project (JDP) intended to both strengthen ASE’s system-in-package (SiP) capabilities and expand Inotera’s foundry services beyond its core competency of memory manufacturing to silicon interposers. The goal is to provide novel 2.5D manufacturing solutions. Prior to the companies’ official announcement, rumors had circulated that the JDP’s intended purpose was for volume manufacturing of 3D IC products including application processors and RAM chips. In a telephone interview, Rich Rice, Sr. VP of Business Development at ASE US, Inc. explained actual details of the agreement, as outlined in the companies’ joint press release.
According to the release, Inotera Memories will provide manufacturing services for silicon interposers for 2.5D integrated products to complement ASE’s established system-in-package (SiP) product portfolio. Inotera Memories manufactures DRAM wafers, and has expanded its capabilities to offer silicon interposer foundry services.
ASE has been continuously investing in new technologies in package design and manufacturing, with particular focus in recent years on SiP modules that utilize 2.5D and 3D IC packaging technologies as it gains traction in the mobility space. SiP technology is integral to many end market applications including products incorporating biometric touch, sensors, wireless, power management, camera modules, RF front end and lighting. ASE’s goal, noted Rice, is to provide the packaging platform technologies that enable the integration of these devices.
Rice explained that the ASE/Inotera JDP calls for Inotera to provide middle-end-of-line services for backside integration processes (BSI) such as thinning, TSV reveal, backside redistribution, and passivation. “They will be finishing up partially made interposers in the short term, and in the long term will manufacture full silicon interposers,” he said. He added that sourcing DRAM for future products is not part of this agreement.
While ASE already has process capabilities in place for these processes, the collaboration with Inotera will allow them to scale to larger volumes, explained Rice. He explained that Inotera has a lot of core competency in these kinds of processes.
“Our intention is to have a compelling solution in the market,” explained Rice. “All across the supply chain, people are coming at it from different ways. This is different than what anyone has brought forward so far. It shows our customers that we can scale and do it cost-effectively with SI interposers. We think Inotera can scale this kind of technology very well in large volumes, which will allow us to serve customers more efficiently.”
Does this mean ASE expects to see 2.5D and 3D IC products in volume production soon? “We view this as a technology that should be running in high volume in the future, and we want to prepare for that,” said Rice. “We don’t know what’s going to happen yet, but we believe in the technology.” ~ F.v.T.