Wafer Level Packaging reaches new heights

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WLP will definitely be a winner by 2025, declared Yole Développement (Yole) in its new Advanced Packaging Quarterly Market Monitor. $2.5B will be the market figure to remember as it will be Fan-out (FO) package revenue by 2025. Behind this data, there is TSMC’s strategy to drive fan-out for 5G applications. In parallel, fan-in WLCSP revenue will continue its growth and will peak at $3B by 2025… This analysis  is the result of the daily analysis by the advanced packaging team at Yole and delivered in the advanced packaging monitor, every quarter.

Will TSMC and Samsung Electronics continue to manage supply? Or will there be a new entrant to support HDFO’s growing demand? ASE and PTI are increasing CapEx by bringing additional PLP capacity online: will the FO PLP business therefore significantly increase in the coming years? Will WLCSP packages find new adoption in IoT/consumer applications? How will the WLCSP package market share change for automotive applications? Will the IoT/consumer market grow significantly and drive the need for thinner, faster SoCs? Will 5G spur additional WLP package growth with new RF designs? Will WLP package CapEx continue increasing, or will it stabilize at a certain level?… The market research & strategy consulting company is unveiling today, within the Advanced Packaging Quarterly Market Monitor, its Q1 2020 analysis.

Yole’s advanced packaging team has been researching the advanced packaging industry for a while now. Its expertise and knowledge is well-known in the semiconductor industry, as Yole’s analysts present their findings throughout the year at many onsite and online conferences. They offer a large collection of reports and monitors to follow the advanced packaging industry. Their aim is to deliver in-depth understanding of the latest innovations and business opportunities. Reports and monitors are intended to be complementary analyses of the same industry under the Yole’s advanced packaging research umbrella. More on i-Micronews.


Revenue slightly increased in 2019 due to the new generation of smartphones & to the wearable/IoT ecosystem

 “Number of WLCSP packages exceeded 29 billion units in 2019 and many players continue to add capacity and capability in key geographies”, announces Vaibhav Tridevi, Technology & Market Analyst, Advanced Packaging at Yole. But what are the main market drivers?

First, PMICs, audio-Codecs and connectivity modules lead WLCSP package growth as more devices adopt this platform. In addition, 5G, and IoT remain drivers as WLCSP package count is expected to increase to support high bandwidth applications.

In parallel, the Deca M-Series continues to gain momentum in “fan-in” form as Qualcomm starts adoption with growing need for package side protection and enhanced board reliability. Finally, WLCSP packages will play a critical role in RF package eco-system as many wire bond parts are expected to be converted to flip chip form factors driving additional growth.

In this dynamic context, the 2020-2025 outlook remains strong and robust as new adoption of WLCSP form factors gains wide adoption in all smartphone/luxury phones.


With HDFO & core FO applications expanding, FO has secured a critical role

FO packages have found their niche applications in devices such as PMICs, audio codecs, connectivity modules, automotive radar, high-end application processors, and some RF transceiver applications. While FO packages are finding these niches, WLCSP package is becoming a new standard mainstream package for the mobile/consumer market as it offers lowest package cost for many applications.

“Fueled by a strong semiconductor industry performance, FO package revenue reached $1.3B in 2018”, explains Vaibhav Trivedi from Yole. And he explains: “TSMC remains the leader from a market-share standpoint, followed by ASE, JCET, and Amkor Technology. In 2019, Semco stepped away from its FO PLP business, which was subsequently acquired by Samsung Electronics. Meanwhile, PTI leads in PLP packaging expansion activities, with significant CapEx on the horizon and high hopes of winning business from the top Chinese OEMs.”

As performance requirements evolve, competition will remain fierce in the coming years amongst players and between various fan-out technologies with foundry players clearly winning in the HD FO segment while OSATs continue struggling to catch up in this market. The top three OSATs – ASE, Amkor, and JCET – continue to drive WLCSP to new heights as this form factor finds its place in switches, filters, serial flash, RF components, wireless charging and many more.


TSMC goes “all-in”…

TSMC announced unprecedented $1.5B CapEx investment in 2020 for advanced packaging business specifically geared toward SoIC, InFO variants, and the CoWoS product line, with an estimated $300M for the InFO (PoP/AiP/OS/MS) product line. TSMC started manufacturing Apple APUs on InFO platform in 2016, disrupting the supply chain as substrate suppliers and OSATs lost this Apple APU business to TSMC. TSMC continues to “bite” into traditional OSAT business for Apple APU PoP assembly and AiP module for 5G Apple phones with its InFO product line. TSMC started this journey in 2015 when it invested ~$585M to start-up a new InFO line for Apple application processors. In 2020, TSMC’s advanced packaging CapEx is expected to triple (3x) compared to 2015, to $1.5B.  With this strong momentum, TSMC is expected to double its advanced packaging revenue in the next few years as a result of 5G deployment and the need for heterogeneous integration using a wafer level platform. 

TSMC has successfully manufactured APUs from 2016 to 2019 on the InFO-PoP platform.  As the chiplet design approach and heterogeneous integration trend will continue for the next several years, TSMC plans to implement SoIC on various mobile and high-end applications. TSMC SoIC design has potential to cannibalize additional business away from OSATs for FO-SiP applications.  In addition to increasing iOS ecosystem content with InFO packages, TSMC may get additional phone OEM customers with fan-out platforms to be adopted for APU modules as the race for miniaturization and higher bandwidth continues.

In summary, with its mature InFO product line-up and with its increased investment in SoIC package infrastructure with chiplet paradigm shift over next 3-5 years, TSMC is in a robust position to take advantage of the heterogeneous integration revolution.


The bright future of FO

FO packaging continues to be adopted in high-density applications and high-performance computing, while WLCSP package becomes the mainstream “work horse” for smartphone & consumer applications.

FO packaging began several years ago with limited application, but it has now found a critical role and rightful place in the high-end packaging sector as a mature, reliable package technology. In fact, TSMC’s InFO form-factors brought FO technology to new heights in 2015/2016 when Apple launched its A10 with InFO-PoP.  FO packages are primarily used in the mobile and consumer segments, with some proliferation in automotive radar.  FO packaging is expected to gain wider adoption as 5G, AI, and autonomous driving take flight in the coming years – and revenue stemming from FO packaging is expected to reach $2.5B by 2025.

The WLCSP packaging market also found a new “M-series” product which provides side mold protection with greater BLR performance. It has been adopted by a major customer. HDFO remains a key growth driver in the FO packaging market…

Yole’s Advanced Packaging Quarterly Market Monitors will be published every beginning of March (Q1), June (Q2), September (Q3) and December (Q4). The aim of Yole’s team is to give a closer look at the main markets and players. In addition to WLCSP and FO, the Advanced Packaging Quarterly Market Monitor will soon cover 2.5/3D  and FC packaging.

Yole’s analysts invite you to follow our activities on i-Micronews, especially during this complex period due to the impact of Covid-19.

Stay tuned to i-Micronews to get further info. about our Advanced Packaging activities!

About the Advanced Packaging team

Vaibhav Trivedi is a Senior Technology & Market analyst at Yole Développement (Yole) working with the Semiconductor & Software division. Based in the US, he is a member of Yole’s advanced packaging team and contributes to analysis of ever-changing advanced packaging technologies.  Vaibhav has 17+ years of field experience in both semiconductor processing and supply chain, specifically on memory and thermal component sourcing and advanced packaging, such as SiP and WLP. Vaibhav has held multiple technical and commercial lead roles at various semiconductor corporations prior to joining Yole. 

Vaibhav holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, and Master of Science of Material Science from University of Florida, in addition to an MBA from Arizona State University.  

Favier Shoo is a Technology and Market Analyst in the Semiconductor & Software division at Yole Développement, member of the Yole Group of Companies. Based in Singapore, Favier is engaged in the development of technology & market reports as well as the production of custom consulting reports.

Favier holds a Bachelor in Materials Engineering (Hons) and a Minor in Entrepreneurship from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) (Singapore). Favier was also the co-founder of a startup company where he formulated business goals, revenue models and marketing plans.

Santosh Kumar is currently working as Principal Analyst and Director Packaging, Assembly & Substrates, Yole Korea. Based in Seoul, Santosh is involved in the market, technology and strategic analyses of the microelectronic assembly and packaging technologies. His main interest areas are advanced IC packaging technology, including equipment & materials. He is the author of several reports on fan-out / fan-in WLP, flip chip, and 3D/2.5D packaging.

Santosh Kumar received the Bachelor’s and Master’s in Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee and University of Seoul respectively. He has published more than 40 papers in peer reviewed journals and has obtained 2 patents. He has presented and given talks at numerous conferences and technical symposiums related to advanced microelectronics packaging

Emilie Jolivet is Director of the Semiconductor & Software Division at Yole Développement, member of the Yole Group of Companies, where her specific interests cover package & assembly, semiconductor manufacturing, memory and software & computing fields.

Based on her valuable experience in the semiconductor industry, Emilie manages the expansion of the technical and market expertise of the Semiconductor and Software Team. The team interacts daily with leading companies allowing semiconductor & software analysts to collect a large amount of data and integrate their understanding of the evolution of the market with technology breakthroughs.

In addition, Emilie’s mission focusses on the management of business relationships with semiconductor leaders and the development of market research and strategy consulting activities inside the Yole group.

Emilie Jolivet holds a Master’s in Applied Physics specializing in Microelectronics from INSA (Toulouse, France).

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