Embedded Die is finally passing the threshold from incubation to volume. Which markets are starting first, with which technology and supply chain?
Embedded Die in PCB: From incubation to volume
The semiconductor industry today is highly focused on weathering the market storms caused by the gradual saturation of the market driving mobile segment. Supply chain consolidation and vertical integration is trending among key players in the industry in order to reduce cost and raise preparedness for future uncertainty and diversity of upcoming applications and products. Advanced Packaging is one of the spotlights as a key enabling technology that can on one hand continue the cost reduction curve and on the other increase functionality by system level integration approaches.
Most of the attention in advanced packaging in the past year has been given to 2 platforms: Fan-Out WLP/PLP and 2.5D/3D IC packaging. Fundamentally, these packaging technologies have a sweet spot in the mobile and computing sector, respectively, with potential to grow into other market segments. However, the Embedded Die in PCB platform has a distinctively different history, path and adoption scheme than other advanced packaging platforms. While the first significant volume of Embedded Die in IC package substrate came from DC/DC converters in smartphones, penetration in other market segments of interest to Embedded Die such as automotive, medical or aerospace was simply delayed due to much longer qualification times and regulatory approval cycles. Furthermore, embedding a die in an IC package substrate and especially in the board can have distinctively different drivers than other advanced packaging platforms – not just form factor scaling or electrical performance increase, but better thermal management and reliability advantages. The Embedded Die platform has been incubated and brewed for years patiently waiting for the right moment to appear on the scene in considerable volume. It seems we are finally nearing the point of inflection – from incubation to volume.
In 2015, an estimated 94% of the 23.5 $M Embedded Die market was recorded in the highly competitive mobile segment. Figure below presents the Embedded Die packaging revenue forecast. 2016 exhibited a revenue decline, expected to last through 2017, due to production decline of camera modules in mobile phones utilizing the Embedded Die packaging platform. Going forward, this image is expected to drastically change with product launches in the automotive, medical, ICT, consumer and industrial segments. By 2021 non-mobile share of the 49.7 $M Embedded Die market will rise from 6% to 36% of the total revenue. Automotive and Medical markets offer a promising opportunity for the Embedded Die technology rising from scratch to a combined 15.5 $M packaging revenue. Certain products in the medical domains are in the final stages of long awaited regulatory approvals while the automotive market could be more disruptive with 5-10 times higher revenues, depending on big player adoption rates.
This report treats the Embedded Die in PCB platform for the first time as a standalone topic covering both embedding in an IC package substrate, rigid boards and flexible boards. Furthermore, the report also reflects on advanced embedded interconnects such as the Shinko MCeP or Intel EMIB. When advanced embedded interconnects are included, the Embedded Die packaging revenue rises an order of magnitude.
Transition from mobile to higher product value automotive and medical markets
While all eyes were placed on smartphone developments, in this segment the Embedded Die platform had limited success competing with faster developing Flip Chip and especially WLP platforms. However, certain volume was detected in the form of DC/DC converters and camera modules, consequently, due to the sheer volume of smartphones, bringing contained success.
In terms of applications, the limited products/one market image is expected to change significantly. The embedded die technology has been known to the high reliability markets such as medical, aerospace and automotive for years, however cycle times and especially regulatory approvals follow much different and longer schemes than in the consumer sector. A variety of products are expected to arrive on the market in the near future. A trend from low cost to high value Embedded Die packaging is on the horizon. The automotive sector is forecasted with highest revenue and unit growth with CAGR values from 2015 to 2021 of 246% and 239%, respectively and first volumes expected already in 2017. The high growth is expected from the adoption of Embedded Die in 48V power converters, motor control units, camera modules, distance sensors and lighting modules. Following the automotive market, the high value lower unit count medical market is forecasted to exhibit a CAGR of 84%. The products associated include hearing aids, pacemakers, neurostimulation and endoscopic cameras. In combination with products from other market segments, the overall Embedded Die packaging revenue CAGR is estimated at 13% and unit CAGR at 25% by 2021. However, although non-mobile products are expected to gain speed, the mobile segment is likely to maintain leadership by 2021 due to several RF and power management units adopting Embedded Die resulting in a mobile segment revenue CAGR of 9%.
Overall, 2016 saw a decline in Embedded Die revenue compared to 2015, primarily due to the decline in smartphone camera modules. Looking ahead, the adoption of Embedded Die in new markets such as automotive and medical, along with adoption in other limited but high volume smartphone functions are expected to propel the Embedded Die platform from 2018 onwards to the long awaited higher volumes and growth slopes. First tangible adoptions of Embedded Die in non-mobile markets are expected already in 2017.
The report contains a full segmentation of the Embedded Die platform including Embedded Die in IC package substrate, rigid board and flexible board and the related drivers for each technology. Furthermore, revenue and unit forecasts per market segments such as mobile, automotive, medical, consumer, ICT and industrial are given. Moreover, detailed splits per product within each market segment are estimated based on industry developments and likelihood of further success in the Embedded Die platform.
Players from different business models are entering the market
One of the main problems of further adoption of Embedded Die packaging was the lack of a defined supply chain. Several improvements have been done in this respect with growing collaboration efforts between industrial partners. In May 2015, TDK and ASE announced a joint venture to support the Embedded Die SESUB technology, while in May 2016 AT&S and UTAC announced a joint collaboration to provide full turnkey services for 3D SiP products including AT&S flagship embedded die technology ECP. The same month General Electric licensed the power electronics focused POL Embedded Die technology to Shinko.
Furthermore, several consortiums and industrial programs have been ongoing for years, gradually increasing the matureness of the technology. These collaborative efforts included prominent OEM partners such as Siemens, Bosch, Daimler, Continental and Thales. The participation of large OEMs in such programs indicates high expectations from the Embedded Die platform in the future.
The full report contains a detailed analysis of several business models that will be employed in Embedded Die manufacturing, identification of key players as well as an in depth supply chain from IC design companies to OEMs. Figure below displays a non-exhaustive list of involved players by business model.
A variety of competing technologies
The Embedded Die platform exhibits a large variety of proposed technologies, based on diverse technical requirements, intended applications and different business models of the involved players. For instance, a device intended for medical or automotive applications needs to adhere to mission critical or life critical regulative measures while a consumer or mobile intended device could have increased form factor pressure but reduced reliability requirements.
A large span is also visible in terms of Embedded Die packaging cost where a difference between a low end product and high end product can be 100 times. Embedded Die packages have been observed with costs ranging from ~0.03$ to 4$. A detailed analysis of Embedded Die cost based on performance requirement and market segment is given in the report. Furthermore, the report covers an in depth overview of key players, their technologies developed and respective strategy for entering the market. Finally, technical roadmaps are given from 2015 to 2021 for Embedded Die in IC package substrate, Embedding in rigid boards and Embedding in flexible boards.
Objectives of the Report
To provide a market overview of the Embedded Die landscape:
- Emerging and declining applications
- Forecasts until 2021: Revenue, unit count
- Identify main players and provide supply chain analysis
To provide analysis of technology trends:
- Technology review by player
- Technology roadmaps
To assess the future development of the Embedded Die market:
- Outlook on volume growing disruptions: new market drivers, infrastructure, expanding business models, new entries, competing packaging solutions
- Impact on supply chain and technology roadmap
What's new in the report
- A standalone report focusing exclusively on the Embedded Die platform
- Inclusion of embedding both on board level and IC package substrate level
- A complete revision of the forecasts based on studied market segment cycles, product announcements and adoption rates
- Key players review by technology proposed and strategic planning
- Technology roadmaps for embedding in IC package substrates, rigid boards and flexible boards
- Analysis of established and future ecosystems