Panel-level Packaging: the High Volume Manufacturing Roadmap has Yet to be Built

Panel-level Packaging: the High Volume Manufacturing Roadmap has Yet to be Built

Over the past few years, it becomes clear that some panel-level packaging choices will be more suitable than others for successful commercial development. So, when will the panel-level packaging industry take off? How will it evolve?

“At Yole, we’ve identified five key packaging platforms that can be processed on a larger surface (rectangular/square),” asserts Amandine Pizzagalli, Technology & Market Analyst, Advanced Packaging & Semiconductor Manufacturing at Yole Développement. There are fan-out wafer level packaging  (FOWLP) panels, organic interposer, glass panel interposer, hybrid interposer and embedded die. Some of these advanced packaging platforms, embedded die and organic interposer are already available on panel, while others like FOWLP and glass interposer have yet to be confirmed.

In its new report entitled “Status of Panel-Level Packaging & Manufacturing”, Yole Développement (Yole), the More-than-Moore market research and strategy consulting company presents the panel-level packaging technologies landscape. Yole’s analysts detail the commercialization status, market adoption and the business opportunities for each available and in-development packaging technology. They analyze related drivers and challenges for technology adoption; they also describe the competitive landscape with a detailed supply chain and a market adoption roadmap.

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Within the panel-level packaging industry, embedded die-in-substrate is a promising packaging technology whose key benefits are small form factor and size, high integration capability, and good thermal/electrical performance. However, despite these benefits and the multiple players working on this technology, it hasn’t really taken off in terms of high-volume manufacturing (HVM). Presently, only a few players including TDK, AT&S, and Taiyo-Yuden are in volume production.

Certain factors have impeded embedded die technology’s growth due to the lack of driving applications and standardization which make it difficult for end-customers to multisource. These challenges are gradually being addressed. “At Yole, we believe that things are starting to happen which will propel this technology onto a high growth path,” comments Santosh Kumar, Technology & Market Analyst, Advanced Packaging & Semiconductor Manufacturing at Yole.

With TDK and ASE establishing their “ASE Embedding Electronics” joint venture in 2015 (in which products based on TDK’s SESUB technology will be manufactured), Yole expects more licensing/multi-sourcing activities in the future that will bode well for embedded die packaging. Also, substrate suppliers like AT&S are working with industrial bodies like IPC to create standards. OSATs are less interested in embedded die technology, but they can collaborate with their substrate partners to leverage their experience and technology to develop the supply chain and create a value-added product that will be a win-win scenario for both. One example is the collaboration between Nanium and AT&S for E2CP (Embedded Embedded Component Package).

FOWLP panel level could enable a lower cost-per-chip. The industry’s general consensus is that FOWLP-on-panel will bring huge cost benefits. Many OSATs and equipment/materials providers are involved in FOWLP-on-panel’s process development, but at present, only J-Devices has the established infrastructure for FOWLP-on-panel, while ASE is using their flip-chip infrastructure for low-cost FOWLP-on-panel production.

Certain criteria must be fulfilled and certain challenges overcome for FOWLP-on-panel’s broad adoption linked to large Capex investment, equipment readiness, standardization, multi-source availability, and most important, market availability to keep the panel line running. There are technical challenges too, such as warpage control, die placement accuracy, and fabrication of sub 10/10um line, etc. on large panels.

Glass panel interposer is another attractive platform for RF applications due to its considerable upside, which includes electrical performance, CTE match, and cost reduction opportunities. However, commercialization of glass panel interposer has limits linked to Through Glass Via (TGV) formation and metallization. Substrate makers and glass suppliers are pushing to validate glass panel interposer’s value, but OSATS, which have zero control over glass material’s cost structure and possess limited experience, are not likely to invest in glass panel technology’s development.

Yole’s report describes the different strategies and products used by each player in panel packaging, from substrate makers like Shinko to the core outsourced assembly-and-test companies (OSATs). Yole’s analysts also discuss strategies for overcoming the technical and market barriers preventing adoption of panel packaging platforms for high-volume manufacturing.

A detailed description of this advanced packaging report is available on i-micronews.com, Advanced Packaging reports section.