“Advanced substrates are the key interconnect component of advanced packaging architectures,” comments Andrej Ivankovic, Technology & Market Analyst, Advanced Packaging & Semiconductor Manufacturing at Yole Développement (Yole). Indeed advanced substrates are critical in enabling future products and markets.

To answer to technology evolution and market needs, Yole’s advanced packaging team has established a stand-alone dedicated advanced substrate activity, focused on exploring the market and technologies of printed circuit board (PCB), package substrates and redistribution layers (RDL). And today, the “More than Moore” market research and strategy consulting company announce its first report titled “Advanced Substrates Overview: From Integrated Circuits (IC) Package to Board”. This technology & market analysis serves as an overview of advanced substrate technologies, markets, and supply chain, to be supported by subsequent in-depth reports.

Advanced substrates are a key enabler of future products and markets. Yole’s analysts offer you a special focus on this industry and its competitive landscape.

Today’s advanced substrates in a volume are:

  • Flip chip (FC) substrates.
  • 2.5D/3D through silicon via (TSV) assemblies.
  • And thin-film RDLs especially for fan out wafer level packaging (FOWLP) advanced packaging platform, below an L/S resolution of 15/15 um and with transition below L/S < 10/10 um.

These advanced substrates are traditionally linked to higher-end logic such as computer power users (CPU)/graphics processing units (GPU), digital signal processors (DSP) etc.  Driven by ICs in the latest technology nodes in the computing, networking, mobile, and high-end consumer market segments gaming, high definition (HD)/Smart TV.

Moreover, due to additional form factor and low power demands, WLP and advanced FC substrates are also widespread in a majority of smartphone functions. Yole’s analysis identified: application processors, baseband, transceivers, filters, amplifiers, WiFi modules, drivers, codecs, power management, etc.

Future higher-end products will require package substrates with L/S < 10/10 µm and boards with L/S < 30/30 µm. These demands have given rise to three distinct competition areas:

  • Board vs. IC substrate (See the figure 1: green & gray zone)
  • IC substrate vs. FOWLP (See the figure 1: green & orange zone)
  • FOWLP vs. 2.5D/3D packaging (See the figure 1: yellow & orange zone)

The board vs. FC substrate area is characterized by the transition from the subtractive to the modified semi-additive processing (mSAP), and competition between board and substrate manufacturers. Evaluation of “substrate-like PCBs” is already under way at OEMs, and so too the potential new integration opportunities they could bring. Furthermore, developments in FC substrate, FOWLP, and 2.5D/3D packaging have created an immense competitive arena for L/S < 10/10 µm packaging, with a large variety of solutions coming from business models across the supply chain including IDMs, foundries, OSATs, WLP houses, substrate manufacturers, and EMS.

As shown in figure 2, the transition to substrates for ICs below L/S < 10/10 µm has begun, led by application processors/basebands in FOWLP and advanced FC substrates, and the first GPUs in 2.5D/3D TSV configuration. The “below L/S < 10/10 um” advanced substrate roadmap is open, with intense R&D underway and each manufacturer developing strategies and targets for their respective solutions.

Yole’s advanced substrates report is an overview of the technology status and market evolution. It will be followed by further in-depth reports. Today, with this first edition, the objective is to provide an overview of the board, substrate and RDL interconnects, analyze the technology trends and assess future development of the advanced substrate market. A detailed description of the report is available on i-micronews.com, advanced packaging reports section.

The fan-out platform’s excitement has clearly caught the attention of the advanced packaging industry as well as advanced substrate manufacturers. Day to day, Yole’s advanced packaging team is enlarging its know-how to understand the technical and economic issues. Analysts are daily interacting with advanced packaging leaders to turn research results into strategies and define a long-term view of the business.

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