What to expect from manufacturing’s most dynamic advanced packaging platform?
2015 - 2016 saw large investments in FOWLP
With FOWLP adoption spreading from mobile/wireless and automotive to MEMS, RF SiP, and medical, a wealth of lucrative business opportunities exist for fan-out equipment and materials suppliers.
A massive investment wave is the first proof of this trend. 2015 - 2016 was a record-setting period for FOWLP industry development, with investments coming from a variety of companies. TSMC was the biggest investor, with ~ $1B supplied mainly to capture Apple’s market. Amkor, PTI, ASE, STATS ChipPAC, and Deca Technologies are other notable players that invested to either start a manufacturing line or enlarge existing capacity. 2017 will not see the same investment level, but the potential for new moves is high. Capacity enlargement is still an option for players considering it; in fact it may be required in two years if fan-out keeps growing in high-density applications. Newcomers will gain some market share, necessitating entry into volume production. However, with 4.5M wafers to be produced in 2021, capacity must also be increased by TSMC and/or other actors. Therefore, a second wave of investment must occur soon or capacity will not be sufficient to address the FOWLP market if it continues growing.
In order to provide a clear picture of new investments and future markets for equipment and materials, this report focuses on FOWLP’s key process steps, which we believe are most essential to the platform: carrier bonding/debonding, chip placement, RDL processing, and molding.
FOWLP equipment and materials markets will reach an impressive 40% CAGR
The equipment that enables the aforementioned process steps includes pick-and-place bonders, lithography tools, sputter tools, molding tools, carrier debonding tools, and coaters/developers.
The total FOWLP equipment market is expected to reach ~$694M in 2021 at an impressive CAGR 2015 - 2021 of 42.5%.
Similarly, FOWLP’s total materials market is expected to reach ~$148M in 2021 at a CAGR 2015 - 2021 of 40%. Key materials studied in this report include RDL dielectrics and photoresist, molding compound, and glass carriers.
Growth will be significant for all equipment and material types, indicating broad benefit from the FOWLP platform’s success. However, the challenges and market landscapes are very different from process step to process step, and the market is quite diversified.
For example, lithography for patterning RDL represents one of the largest market components thanks to the equipment’s high value and the large volume of photoresist. In lithography, a “stepper”-type litho tool is used for FOWLP RDL patterning in order to achieve low-resolution (down to 2µm today), but its cost is high and manufacturers are under strong pressure to reduce their prices. This market is currently dominated by Ultratech, which supplies TSMC, and Rudolph which has enjoyed success with OSATs. We expect other players to penetrate this area, potentially with different approaches like laser ablation.
Other steps, i.e. mold compound processing, may be more prone to domination by a single player. This symbolic step, which creates a reconstituted wafer out of a mold in which the IC are encapsulated, is almost entirely owned by Nagase Chemtex (~90% market share) on the materials side. Nagase Chemtex’s dominance is the result of the complex approach such chemicals require in order to develop an optimum solution, and the long history Nagase has with the main producers (Nanium and STATS ChipPAC). Liquid molding compound (LMC) is currently the preferred FOWLP mold material, however, to break Nagase’s monopoly and reduce cost, other materials suppliers are working to develop granular-type molding (GMC) materia
ls. By 2021, GMC is expected to have 29% of the total market. On the equipment side, things are more diversified, with APIC, Yamada, and Towa the key compression molding-tool suppliers for FOWLP.
The panel question: focusing on manufacturing opportunities and challenges
This report also focuses on the potential impact of moving fan-out manufacturing onto panel. Going from wafer to large-panel format is essential to reducing package cost per chip. However, certain criteria must be fulfilled and certain challenges overcome for FOWLP-on-panel’s broad adoption – criteria linked to large capex investment, equipment readiness, standardization, multisource availability, and most importantly, market availability to keep the panel line running. There are technical challenges too, i.e. warpage control, die placement accuracy, and fabrication of sub 10/10um lines on large panels.
For some process steps (i.e. plating, PVD, and dicing), most of the tools are readily available on the market and can be adapted from the PCB, flat-panel display, or LCD industries, and are likely to be reused for producing panels. However, some key process steps (i.e. lithography) inherent to advanced packaging necessitate developing new tool capabilities in order to support thick-resist lithography, panel-handling capability, exposure field size, and depth of focus.
Given the remaining challenges requiring solutions for panel processes in advanced packaging, there will be huge business opportunities that could attract new equipment entrants from the PCB, LCD, and PV industries; entrants that might have the ability to apply existing panel-based tools for panel-scale packaging technologies.
On the materials side, the trend is that the key materials suppliers will use their current market-ready products for LCD and advanced packaging applications, and optimize them to meet panel package requirements.
Objectives of the Report
This report’s objectives are to:
- Detail technologies that can be classified as “fan-out packaging”
- Identify and explain the fan-out packaging platform’s key process steps
- Analyze fan-out technologies’ manufacturing chain
- Summarize the equipment and materials suppliers for each key process step
- Provide for these process steps a market forecast for the coming years and an estimate of future trends
- Examine key market drivers, benefits, and challenges for equipment and materials in fan-out packages