October 19, 2020

Leading semiconductor advanced packaging, IC substrate market is exploding at the time

HOREXS is ultra thin FR4 PCB manufacturer,which is professional in IC package pcb for 10 years in CHINA,has top good honor in this industry.

IC carrier board is a technology developed with the continuous advancement of semiconductor packaging technology. In the mid-1990s, a new type of high-density IC packaging form represented by ball grid array packaging and chip size packaging came out. The board came into being as a new packaging carrier. The IC carrier board is developed on the basis of the HDI board. As a high-end PCB board, it has the characteristics of high density, high precision, miniaturization and thinness. IC carrier board is also called package substrate. In the field of high-end packaging, IC carrier board has replaced the traditional lead frame and has become an indispensable part of chip packaging. It not only provides support, heat dissipation and protection for the chip, but also provides support for the chip and PCB mother. Electronic connections are provided between the boards, which play a role of "linking up and down"; even passive and active devices can be embedded to achieve certain system functions. IC carrier board products are roughly divided into five categories, namely memory chip IC carrier board, MEMS IC carrier board, radio frequency module IC carrier board, processor chip IC carrier board and high-speed communication IC carrier board, etc., mainly used in mobile intelligence Terminal, service/storage, etc. In short, the IC substrate is the key substrate for advanced packaging of integrated circuits, the "special" PCB.

1. The technical barrier is much higher than that of ordinary PCB, and there are fewer industry players

Developed from HDI, the technical barrier is much higher than HDI and ordinary PCB. The IC carrier board is developed on the basis of the HDI board. There is a certain correlation between the two, but the technical threshold of the IC carrier board is much higher than that of HDI and ordinary PCBs. The IC carrier board can be understood as a high-end PCB, which has the characteristics of high density, high precision, high pin count, high performance, miniaturization, and thin profile. It has higher requirements on a variety of technical parameters, especially the most core line Width/line spacing parameters. Take the chip package substrate of a mobile product processor as an example. Its line width/line spacing is 20μm/20μm, and it will continue to decrease to 15μm/15μm, 10μm /10μm in the next 2-3 years, while the general PCB line width/ The line pitch should be above 50μm/50μm (HOREXS is also focusing on research and development to overcome such technical problems in the next few years).

Compared with ordinary PCBs, IC carrier boards have many technical difficulties. These technical difficulties are the biggest industry entry barrier for IC carrier boards. The following summarizes the technical difficulties of IC carrier boards.

1) Core board manufacturing technology. The core board of the IC carrier board is very thin and easily deformed. Only after breakthroughs in process technologies such as board expansion and contraction and layer pressure parameters, can the warpage and laminated thickness of the ultra-thin core board be effectively controlled.

2) Microporous technology. The pore diameter is generally about 30μm, which is much smaller than the pore diameter of ordinary PCB and HDI, and the number of stacked layers reaches 3, 4, and 5.

3) Pattern formation and copper plating technology. The thickness of copper plating requires high uniformity and high requirements for flash corrosion of fine circuits. The current line width spacing requirement is 10-30μm. The copper plating thickness uniformity is required to be 18±3 microns, and the etching uniformity is ≥90%.

4) Solder mask process. The height difference between the solder mask surface of the IC carrier board is less than 10 μm, and the height difference between the solder mask and the land surface is no more than 15 μm.

5) Testing capabilities and product reliability testing technology. IC carrier board factories need to be equipped with a batch of testing equipment/instruments that are different from traditional PCB factories, and they need to master different reliability testing techniques from conventional ones.

At present, there are three main manufacturing processes for IC carrier boards and PCBs, namely, the subtractive method, the additive method (SAP) and the modified semi-additive method (MSAP).

Subtractive method: The most traditional PCB manufacturing process involves first plating a copper layer with a certain thickness on the copper clad board, and then using a dry film to protect the lines and vias to etch away the unnecessary copper. The biggest problem with this method is that during the etching process, the side of the copper layer will also become partly etched (side etching). The existence of side etching makes the minimum line width/spacing of the PCB only greater than 50μm (2mil), which can only be used for ordinary PCB and HDI products.

Additive method (SAP): First, perform circuit exposure on an insulating substrate containing a photosensitive catalyst, and then perform selective electroless copper deposition on the exposed circuit to obtain a complete PCB. Since this method does not require post-etching, it can achieve very high precision, and the fabrication can reach below 20 μm. At present, this method has high requirements on substrates and process flow, high cost, and low output.

Modified semi-additive method (MSAP): first electroplate a thin copper layer on the copper clad board, then protect the areas that do not need electroplating, electroplating again and apply a corrosion-resistant layer, and then remove the excess chemical The copper layer is removed, and what remains is the required copper layer circuit. Since the copper layer electroplated at the beginning is very thin and the flash etching time is very short, the effect of side etching is very small. Compared with the subtractive method and the additive method, the MSAP process has a substantial increase in production yield and a significant decrease in production costs when the manufacturing accuracy is not much different from that of the SAP. It is currently the most mainstream manufacturing method for fine circuit substrates.

The IC substrate production process is complicated, and the MSAP process is the mainstream. The minimum line width/spacing of the IC carrier board is generally less than 30μm. The traditional subtractive process has been unable to meet the requirements of the IC carrier board. MSAP is currently the most common process for IC carrier board manufacturing. In addition to the wide application of the MSAP process in the manufacture of IC carrier boards, Apple also introduced this process into the production of SLP (substrate-like). The current design is a mixture of subtractive etching and MSAP process, which can be applied to thinner and smaller motherboard designs. The manufacture of SLP is between high-end HDI and IC carrier board. IC carrier board manufacturers have obvious technical advantages and can easily enter the SLP field. With the continuous improvement of consumer electronics integration, SLP will be adopted by more and more manufacturers. Although the profitability is not as good as IC carrier boards, the market space is considerable.

The IC substrate industry has high barriers and is not limited to technical thresholds. Extremely high technical requirements and numerous patent restrictions have created a high threshold for the IC carrier board industry, and the industry's barriers also include funds and customers.

1) Capital barriers

Because IC carrier boards have extremely high technical barriers, the initial R&D investment is huge, and it takes a long time, and the project development risk is high. The construction of IC substrate production line and subsequent operations also require huge capital investment, among which equipment is the largest. There are many equipment in the IC substrate production line, and the price of a single device may exceed 10 million yuan. The equipment/instrument investment accounts for more than 60% of the total investment in the IC substrate project, which is a heavy burden for traditional PCB manufacturers. Take HOREXS as an example. The company launched the IC carrier board project production in 2009, and insisted on its own factory as the leading production and operation for IC carrier board production. A large number of advanced equipment from Japan and other countries need to be imported every year, most of which are in 300 After ten years of accumulation and precipitation, HOREXS was able to gain a firm foothold in the ultra-thin circuit board industry.

2) Customer barriers

IC carrier board customer verification system is stricter than PCB, which is related to the connection quality of chip and PCB. The “Qualified Supplier Certification System” is generally adopted in the industry, which requires suppliers to have a sound operating network, efficient information management system, rich industry experience and good brand reputation, and they need to pass strict certification procedures. The certification process is complex and The cycle is longer. Take HOREXS as an example. After nearly two years of verification and cooperation, the company has passed customer certification, and mass production and supply will take some time.

3) Environmental barriers

Similar to PCB, the manufacturing process of IC carrier board involves a variety of chemical and electrochemical reactions. The materials produced also contain heavy metals such as copper, nickel, gold, and silver, which poses certain environmental risks. As the country pays more attention to environmental protection and the continuous introduction of environmental protection policies, the preliminary environmental assessment of IC carrier board projects has become more and more difficult, and the tightening of environmental protection has further raised the threshold of industry funds. Enterprises with insufficient financial strength are difficult to obtain industry standards. entrance ticket.

2. The core of the upstream material is the substrate, which is widely used downstream

The packaging substrate is the largest cost of IC packaging, accounting for more than 30%. IC packaging costs include packaging substrates, packaging materials, equipment depreciation and testing, among which IC carrier costs account for more than 30% of the cost of integrated circuit packaging and occupy an important position in integrated circuit packaging. For IC carrier boards, the substrate materials include copper foil, substrate, dry film (solid photoresist), wet film (liquid photoresist) and metal materials (copper balls, nickel beads, and gold salts). The ratio exceeds 30%, which is the largest cost side of IC carrier boards.

1) One of the main raw materials: copper foil

Similar to PCB, the copper foil required for IC carrier board is also electrolytic copper foil, and it needs to be ultra-thin uniform copper foil with a minimum thickness of 1.xn--5m-99b, generally 9-25μm, while the thickness of copper foil used in traditional PCB is 18, Around 35μm. The price of ultra-thin uniform copper foil is higher than that of ordinary electrolytic copper foil, and the processing difficulty is also greater.

2) The second of the main raw materials: substrate

The substrate of the IC carrier board is similar to the copper-clad board of the PCB, which is mainly divided into three types: hard substrate, flexible film substrate and co-fired ceramic substrate. Among them, hard substrate and flexible substrate have more room for development, while co-fired ceramic substrate Development tends to slow down. The main considerations for IC carrier substrates include dimensional stability, high-frequency characteristics, heat resistance, and thermal conductivity. At present, there are three main materials for rigid packaging substrates, namely BT material, ABF material and MIS material; Flexible packaging substrate substrate materials mainly include PI (polyimide) and PE (polyester) resin; ceramic packaging substrate materials are mainly ceramic materials such as alumina, aluminum nitride, and silicon carbide.

Rigid substrate materials: BT, ABF, MIS

1. BT resin (HOREXS mainly uses Mitsubishi Gas BT resin)

BT resin is called "bismaleimide triazine resin", developed by Mitsubishi Gas Co., Ltd., although

Although the patent period of BT resin has expired, Mitsubishi Gas is still a global leader in the development and application of BT resin. BT resin has many advantages such as high Tg, high heat resistance, humidity resistance, low dielectric constant (Dk) and low dissipation factor (Df), but due to the glass fiber yarn layer, it is harder than the FC substrate made of ABF. The wiring is more troublesome, and the difficulty of laser drilling is higher, which cannot meet the requirements of fine lines, but it can stabilize the size and prevent thermal expansion and contraction from affecting the line yield. Therefore, BT materials are mostly used for networks with high reliability requirements. Chip and programmable logic chip. At present, BT substrates are mostly used in products such as mobile phone MEMS chips, communication chips, and memory chips. With the rapid development of LED chips, the application of BT substrates in LED chip packaging is also developing rapidly.

2. ABF

ABF material is a material developed by Intel, which is used for the production of high-end carrier boards such as Flip Chip. Compared with BT base material, ABF material can be used as IC with thinner circuit, suitable for high pin count and high transmission. It is mostly used for large high-end chips such as CPU, GPU and chipset. As a build-up material, ABF can be used as a circuit by directly attaching ABF on the copper foil substrate, and no thermocompression bonding process is required. In the past, ABFFC had problems with thickness. However, as the technology of copper foil substrates is becoming more and more advanced, ABFFC can solve the problem of thickness by using thin plates. In the early days, ABF carrier boards were mostly used in the CPUs of computers and game consoles. With the rise of smart phones and changes in packaging technology, the ABF industry has fallen into a low ebb, but in recent years, network speeds have increased and technological breakthroughs have brought new high-performance computing applications to the table. The ABF demand is magnified again. From the perspective of the industry trend, ABF substrates can keep up with the pace of advanced semiconductor manufacturing processes and meet the requirements of fine lines and fine line width/line spacing. The future market growth potential is expected.

With limited production capacity, industry leaders have begun to expand production. In May 2019, Xinxing announced that it expects to invest 20 billion yuan from 2019 to 2022 to expand high-end IC flip-chip substrate factories and vigorously develop ABF substrates. In terms of other Taiwanese manufacturers, Jingsus expects to transfer analog substrates to the production of ABF, and Nandian is also continuing to increase production capacity.

3. MIS

MIS substrate packaging technology is a new type of technology that is currently developing rapidly in the analog, power IC, and digital currency markets. MIS is different from traditional substrates. It contains one or more layers of pre-encapsulated structures, and each layer is interconnected by electroplating copper to provide electrical connections during the packaging process. MIS can replace some traditional packages such as QFN packages or lead frame-based packages because MIS has finer wiring capabilities, better electrical and thermal properties, and a smaller profile.

Flexible substrate materials: PI, PE

PI and PE resins are widely used in flexible PCBs and IC carrier boards, especially in tape IC carrier boards. Flexible film substrates are mainly divided into three-layer adhesive substrates and two-layer adhesive-free substrates. The three-layer rubber sheet was originally mainly used for military electronic products such as launch vehicles, cruise missiles, and space satellites, and later expanded to various civilian electronic product chips; the thickness of the rubber-free sheet is smaller and suitable for high-density wiring. , Thinning and thinning have obvious advantages. Products are widely used in consumer electronics, automotive electronics and other fields, which are the main development directions for flexible packaging substrates in the future.

There are many upstream substrate material manufacturers and the domestic technology is relatively weak. There are many types of IC substrate core materials, and most upstream manufacturers are foreign-funded enterprises. Take the most widely used BT materials and ABF materials as examples. The main global BT resin manufacturers are Japanese companies Mitsubishi Gas Chemical and Hitachi Chemicals. China is mainly in Taiwan with large production capacity, including Jingsus, Xinxing and Nandian, etc. There are very few companies involved; the leading ABF materials include Nandian, Ibiden, Shinko, Semco, etc. Xinxing is actively rushing forward, and domestic companies in mainland China rarely involve them. As far as Chinese companies are concerned, Shengyi Technology is at the forefront of the R&D and production of IC substrate substrates. Currently, some of HOREXS IC substrates also choose Shengyi Technology. The company announced in May 2018 that the “annual output of 17 million square meters of copper clad laminates and 22 million meters of commercial bonding sheet construction project” will be changed, and the original project implementation site will plan to build a production line of substrate materials for packaging substrates . The company's layout on the substrate side of the IC substrate is expected to break through the technological envelopment of foreign giants and accelerate the domestic substitution process of PCB and IC substrate.

IC carrier boards have a wide range of applications. Mainstream packaging substrate products are roughly divided into five categories, namely memory chip packaging substrates, MEMS packaging substrates, radio frequency module packaging substrates, processor chip packaging substrates and high-speed communication packaging substrates. These chips have basically been adopted due to their high integration. Substrate packaging schemes, with the continuous improvement of IC integration, the proportion of other chips using IC carrier boards will also increase.

IC substrate market

1. Starting from Japan, it has developed to a triad of Japan and South Korea

The industry pattern is a tripartite of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, and domestic enterprises are weak. IC carrier board technology originated in Japan. Later, South Korea and Taiwan of China have risen one after another. Eventually, the industry structure has become a tripartite of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. In recent years, mainland Chinese companies have a rising trend. Since the IC carrier board was developed in the late 1980s, the global IC carrier board development can be roughly divided into three stages:

The first stage: 1980s-20th century late 1990s

This stage is the initial stage of IC carrier board development. Since Japan is the pioneer of IC carrier board technology, Japan's IC carrier board technology at this time is leading the world. Japan's main products are organic resin packaging substrates (mainly BT substrates), occupying most of the global market. As a result, many industry-leading IC substrate companies were born in Japan, including Ibidegn, Shinko and Eastern.

The second stage: late 1990s-early 21st century

With the signing of the "U.S.-Japan Semiconductor Agreement", the Japanese semiconductor chip industry, which was at the top of the wave, turned to the abyss. Japan's semiconductor storage industry has dropped from the world's largest market share to negligible. At the same time, South Korea and Taiwan have completely embraced the US thigh, and the Japanese semiconductor industry is basically out. Under the background of this era, supplemented by the labor cost advantages of South Korea and Taiwan, the IC substrate industry in these two regions began to rise. By the beginning of the 21st century, the global IC substrate industry has basically formed a "triple" of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. pattern. High-quality IC carrier board companies have also emerged in South Korea and Taiwan, such as South Korea’s Samsung Motors and Taiwan’s Xinxing Electronics and Kinsus Technology.

The third stage: the beginning of the 21st century-present

After the establishment of the industry structure, the evolution of technology in the industry is mainly divided. At this stage, higher-level MCP (multi-chip packaging) and SiP (system-in-package) CSP packaging substrates have been greatly developed. Taiwan and South Korea occupy most of the market for PBGA packaging substrates, and Japan dominates flip chips. More than half of the market for mounted BGA and PGA package substrates. In recent years, due to the gradual entry of Chinese players, the IC substrate market has begun to change again.

At present, the global packaging substrate companies are concentrated in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The situation in South Korea and Taiwan is similar. The developed semiconductor industries of the two have spawned huge domestic demand (the storage industry in South Korea is developed, and the foundry industry in Taiwan is developed). The local industry chain is closely linked.

From the perspective of the products produced by various manufacturers, some manufacturers produce a complete range of IC substrate products, while some manufacturers focus on the production of substrates in specific areas. Most companies produce mainstream substrates such as FCBGA and FCCSP, while some powerful companies also involve wire bond substrates, COF, COP, etc., and some companies focus on a certain type of substrate, such as ICs from HOREXS in Shenzhen, my country. Carrier board manufacturing and outstanding quality performance.

From a global perspective: the increase in chip size brings continuous industry growth

The global PCB industry is growing steadily, and the proportion of IC carrier boards is rapidly increasing. According to Prismark data, the global PCB output value in 2018 was approximately 62.396 billion US dollars, an increase of 6% year-on-year. The compound growth rate of global PCB output value from 2017 to 2022 was approximately 3.2%. The entire PCB industry has maintained steady growth in recent years. From the perspective of product structure, the proportion of multi-layer boards has always remained above 35% and still occupies the mainstream position. The most rapid growth in the past two years has been IC carrier boards. The proportion of IC substrates before 2017 was relatively stable or even slightly decreased, but it has rapidly increased since 2017. The proportion has increased from 12.12% in 2016 to 20% in 2018, an increase of nearly 8 percentage points, and the share has increased The reasons for this include increased demand in areas such as automotive electronics and personal terminals, but more importantly, it is affected by the business cycle of memory chips.

IC substrates accounted for 12% of the PCB market, and personal devices accounted for the highest proportion. According to Prismark data, mobile terminals and personal computers still accounted for the highest proportion of the IC downstream market in 2018, accounting for 26% and 21% respectively. With the continued pursuit of lighter and thinner electronic devices, the number of IC carrier boards used by individual electronic devices (especially personal devices) is also increasing. In the future, the scale of the IC carrier board market for mobile terminals is expected to continue to increase.

Since bottoming out in 2016, the global IC substrate market has grown steadily. Since IC carrier boards have semiconductor properties, they are affected by the prosperity of the semiconductor industry and have a certain periodicity. The market size of IC substrates has been declining since 2011, and has been reduced to the lowest point in 2016 (US$6.5 billion) and then gradually recovered. According to ASIA CHEM data, the IC substrate market in 2018 reached approximately US$7.4 billion and is expected to be 2022 It will exceed 10 billion U.S. dollars in the year, with a 5-year CAGR of nearly 8%, far exceeding the growth rate of the global PCB market.

Packaging technology continues to evolve, and the ratio of chip area to packaging area is getting closer to 1. With the rapid development of integrated circuits, IC packaging technology is also evolving. The general development history of packaging: TO→DIP→ PLCC→QFP→PGA→BGA→CSP→MCM, among which the more advanced CSP packaging technology can make the ratio of chip area to package area exceed 1:1.14, and the ratio of chip area to package area will be certain in the future Will get closer and closer to 1, so the future growth of package substrate area will mainly come from the growth of chip area.

Moore's Law is gradually failing, and the increase in chip size is the general trend. In the past ten years or so, the number of transistors in integrated circuits has increased from tens of millions to hundreds of millions, to nearly tens of billions today, and the performance of chips has been advancing by leaps and bounds every year. Thanks to the existence of Moore's Law, although the chip concentration is getting higher and higher, the size of the chips is getting smaller and smaller. At present, 7nm chips have entered the mass production stage, and 5nm has also begun trial production. However, in recent years, Moore's Law is gradually failing, and the improvement of chip manufacturing has entered a bottleneck. The future 3nm process may be the limit under the existing process. In this situation, the improvement of chip performance will increasingly depend on the increase of chip volume.

Due to cost considerations, the size of the chip Die cannot be increased too much, so the CPU performance can be improved by accumulating the number of Dies. Take AMD's latest and highest-end CPU-EPYC as an example. EPYC adopts a package to encapsulate 4 independent Dies, thus achieving the goal of a single CPU with 64 cores and 128 threads. The biggest impact of this approach is that the packaging area of the CPU is significantly increased. The size of EPYC can be compared with the palm of an adult, and the IC carrier board area is more than 4 times that of an ordinary CPU. We believe that with the emergence of thread improvement bottlenecks, consumer demand for higher-performance chips will inevitably stimulate the increase in chip package size, and this trend will significantly increase the materials used for IC substrates, and the future of IC substrate market The demand will continue to grow as the chip size increases.

From China's perspective: domestic substitution + domestic-funded fab construction promotes industry development

The global semiconductor market is growing rapidly, and China is already the world's largest market. In 2018, the total sales of the global semiconductor market reached 470 billion U.S. dollars, a 14% increase compared with 2017; the total sales of the Chinese mainland semiconductor market reached nearly 160 billion U.S. dollars, making it the world's largest single semiconductor sales market, accounting for nearly one-third .

The deficit of my country's semiconductor industry continues to expand, and localization is urgent. Although my country is already the world's largest semiconductor market, the total import volume of my country's integrated circuit industry reached US$312.058 billion in 2018, and the trade deficit reached US$227.422 billion, accounting for nearly half of the total global IC market. my country’s integrated circuit imports have exceeded US$200 billion for 6 years. For domestic enterprises, whether it is from the feelings of the family or the businessmen, this is a huge market. With the rapid changes in the international situation, The localization of my country's semiconductor industry is urgent.

IC substrate is an important substrate in the semiconductor industry, and industrial transfer can be compared to the PCB industry. According to Prismark data, in 2000, my country’s PCB output value accounted for only 8% of the world’s total. In 2018, my country’s PCB output value accounted for 52.4%. The output value scale is far ahead in the world. It is the world’s largest PCB producer. Among them, HorexS was born. An enterprise focusing on the production of IC substrates in subdivisions. IC substrates can be regarded as high-end PCB products. Once the technical barriers are broken by domestic enterprises, it will surely copy the history of PCB industry transfer. At the same time, IC carrier board is an important substrate for advanced integrated circuit packaging and an important part of China's integrated circuit localization. Its localization is inevitable and necessary, and my country will also give birth to a global IC carrier board giant.

The scale of China's IC substrate market is nearly 30 billion, and domestic enterprises account for a low proportion. Since there is no reliable public data on the scale of China’s IC substrate market, this article multiplies China’s PCB output value by the global IC substrate market size to obtain an approximate China’s IC substrate market size (2018 my country’s IC substrate market size) About 26 billion yuan). Compared with the PCB industry, which is far ahead in the world in terms of output value, the domestic-funded IC carrier board industry has huge room for localization.

The expansion of domestic wafer fabs brings huge incremental space, and the leading domestic IC carrier board is expected to fully benefit. Driven by the will of the country, my country's semiconductor manufacturing industry has begun to develop rapidly, and a large number of fabs are in the construction phase or are planned for construction. As of the end of 2018, my country has nearly 50 wafer production lines under construction or to be constructed, most of which are 12-inch wafer production lines, and a few are 8-inch production lines and compound semiconductor production lines. Among them, memory chip factories are The top priority. At present, there are three main storage chip factories under construction in my country, namely Yangtze River Storage, Hefei Changxin and Ziguang Group. The total planned production capacity is 500,000 square meters per month. It is expected that the expansion of domestic storage factories will bring 2 billion yuan. The above IC carrier board incremental space, if the remaining wafer production lines are taken into account, then the IC carrier board demand in the domestic semiconductor market alone has great potential to be tapped.

HOREXS is professional in all kind of memory card ultra thin FR4 PCB manufacturer(IC carrier boards/IC package board) for 10 years in CHINA.

Bcz of China govt.required develop and self also need to seek further development for IC package boards,Horexs put lot of investments on R&D dept and high technology machines purchasing.Horexs hope to support more big customers in the world.Others more details,Contact AKEN.

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