PACKAGING MATERIALS: MARKET CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES


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PACKAGING MATERIALS: MARKET CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

By Dan Tracy, SEMI and Jan Vardaman, TechSearch International

Materials content is increasing in advanced packaging, with materials being critical in delivering the performance and reliability requirements demanded of electronic packaging. There has been strong adoption of chip scale packaging (CSP), stacked die packaging, and wafer-level (WLP) form factors in recent years; with mobile phones and other portable electronics being large volume drivers for these packaging technologies. Flip chip adoption continues to grow, driven mainly by performance but also form factor. As no single packaging technology meets all requirements or needs, the proliferation of package types will continue and material technology must evolve to meet critical industry needs in electrical and thermal performance as well as process integration and system reliability.

While materials content is increasing and newer material technologies are under development, the semiconductor industry is under pressure to reduce costs. Counter to the cost reduction efforts are challenges brought on by rising raw material costs. Specific to the packaging materials markets are rising costs of important metals: copper, tin, gold, silver, and palladium. There has been a sharp rise in pricing for these metals over the past several years. As a result, this has spurred development efforts either to reduce the amount of metal consumed or, in some cases, replacements for some of the above mentioned materials. For companies assembling packages, the challenge is that some of the advanced packaging technologies, such as CSP and wire bond Ball Grid Arrays (BGA), are viewed as commodity technologies, so higher material costs are detrimental in achieving acceptable margins.

The 2006 update to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) notes that “increased device complexity requires higher cost packaging solutions,” though margins in the industry are inadequate to support innovation. In a market environment with steep economic challenges, there remains a range of needs in developing new materials technology solutions. The following table shows the development activities and needs for each packaging materials segment.

General Development Activities/Needs for each Packaging Material Segment

Packaging Materials Segment

    Needs/Development Activities

Organic Substrates

  • Price reduction and price parity for green materials
  • Low CTE materials to minimize solder stress/die stress
  • Fine pitch and thin core requirements

Leadframes

  • Alternative metals/alloys to lower cost
  • Surface treatments
  • Fine pitch inner leads

Bonding Wire

  • Solutions/alternatives to higher gold prices
  • Longer wire and fine pitch applications

Mold Compounds/

Encapsulants/Die Attach

  • Cost increases with green packaging transition
  • Reducing package warpage
  • Low-k compatible/ultra-low stress materials
  • Moisture sensitivity

Underfill

  • Solution for fine flip chip bump pitch
  • Narrow material property/processing windows compatible to low-k devices

Solder Balls

  • Low temperature with lead-free

A healthy supply chain is required for the industry to support the innovation required for advance packaging technologies. New materials will be key in solving the challenges that bring about true systems integration and lower cost electronics for consumers.

All of the information in this article was derived from a recently completed market research study, Global Semiconductor Packaging Materials Outlook—2007–2008 Edition, produced by Semiconductor Equipment Materials International (SEMI) and TechSearch International. In developing this report, over 100 in-depth interviews were conducted with semiconductor manufacturers, packaging subcontractors and packaging materials suppliers throughout the world.

TO ORDER YOUR COPY of Global Semiconductor Packaging Materials Outlook—2007–2008 Edition, please contact Dr. Dan P. Tracy, research development director, Industry Research and Statistics, SEMI via email at dtracy@semi.org, or telephone 1.408.943.7987 or facsimile 1.408.943.7915. You can also visit www.semi.org and select “STORE” from the horizontal menu to find Global Semiconductor Packaging Materials Outlook.