Strong demand for thinner wafers and smaller die is driving the evolution of dicing technologies
Demand for thinned wafers is growing strongly!
Driven by consumer applications such as smartphones, smart cards and stacked packages, the demand for thinned wafers has increased over recent years.
We estimate that the number of thinned wafers used for MEMS devices, CMOS Image Sensors, memory and logic devices, including those with TSVs, as well as and Power devices exceeded the equivalent of 16.5 million 8-inch wafer starts per year (WSPY) in 2015. This is mainly supported by CMOS Image Sensors, followed by Power devices. We expect that this number of thinned wafers will peak at the equivalent of almost 32 million 8-inch WSPY by 2020. This would represent a 14% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2015 to 2020.
Thinner wafers bring several benefits, including enabling very thin packaging, and therefore better form factors, improved electrical performance and high heat dissipation.
Miniaturization towards smaller, higher-performing, lower-cost device configurations has thinned wafers below 100 µm or even 50 µm for some applications, such as memory and power devices.
Forecasts for the number of thinned wafers by thickness and by application are analyzed in this report. It also includes insights on the number of thinning tools, breakdowns by wafer size, and technological highlights affecting the applications mentioned above.
Thinned wafers are creating growth in the grinding, CMP and wet/dry equipment industry
Today, grinding is the most conventional thinning process used by semiconductor applications, reducing wafers from an average starting thickness of 750 μm to 120 µm. However, below 100 µm silicon wafers become very flexible and challenging to thin down further using only standard grinding methods due to stress in high volume manufacturing production.
Segments such as memory and logic require additional thinning steps such as chemical-mechanical planarization (CMP) in order to remove micro cracking and edge chipping caused by the standard grinding process. Backside illuminated CMOS Image Sensors are among the only applications using wet/dry processes and CMP since they need the maximum number of back grinding process steps to obtain the best die quality possible.
The TAIKO process is a new wafer back grinding method developed by DISCO. It is one of the key thinning processes used in Power devices, for the backside metallization layer for 650V-1200V IGBTs and 40V-100V MOSFETs. TAIKO has already entered mass production in power devices from key manufacturers like Infineon or ST Micro.
The report provides a detailed analysis of applications such as memory, logic, MEMS, RFID, CMOS Image sensors as well as Power devices requiring thin wafer processes. It will include insights on a number of tools, breakdowns by wafer size and revenue, and by type of thinning equipment for the applications mentioned above.
Driven by rising demand for thinner wafers and stronger die, dicing technology is evolving
Reaching more than $100M in 2015, the dicing equipment market will double by 2020-2021. Yet at the same time thin wafers are creating new challenges of significant interest in the dicing equipment industry such as die breakage, chipping, low die strength, handling issues and dicing damage.
Today, the most common dicing technology applied across memory, logic, MEMS, RFID and power devices is mechanical dicing, also known as blade dicing. However, needs for thinner wafers and smaller devices in general, we see a trend towards adopting alternative dicing technologies. These include stealth dicing and plasma dicing based on deep reactive ion etching technology.
Memory specifically has predominantly relied on a combination of blade and laser dicing applied together to singulate complex stacks. Using only blade dicing on top layers leads to delamination issues because of the high metal density. However, it’s difficult to safely singulate 50 µm thin wafers even with laser dicing and this could allow plasma dicing to enter this area.
In MEMS devices blade dicing is largely applied for singulating the ASIC, capping and MEMS sensors. However, exposure to water from the process can contaminate some sensors and destroy sensitive MEMS structures, example in MEMS microphones. In such cases, stealth dicing has been already adopted in large volume production.
Plasma dicing has also been adopted in low volume production today for MEMS devices and RFID to reduce die fragility, boost die strength, increase the number of chips per wafer and thus reduce Cost Of Ownership of equipment overall. DISCO has a strong lead in the dicing equipment market, driven by their blade dicing products. They’re followed by Accretech, which has the dominant position in stealth dicing. However, they might be challenged by Plasma Therm, Orbotech/SPTS and Panasonic who have developed plasma dicing tools. This promising method will grow in the semiconductor area and could reshape the dicing landscape.
This report presents a comprehensive overview of the key dicing technologies used for memory, logic, MEMS devices, RFID, CMOS Image sensors as well as power devices and benchmarks them in terms of feature requirements. In addition, it includes insights into the number of tools, broken down by wafer size, by application and by dicing technology. It describes associated technological breakthroughs and manufacturing processes. More insights are included on specific dicing tools for all applications mentioned above.
Competition trends are carefully analyzed and presented as both a competitive landscape and competitive analysis of the major equipment and materials suppliers involved in the dicing market.
Objectives of the Report
This report’s objectives are to provide:
- Market metrics for both thinning and dicing equipment from 2015 to 2020 by revenue and unit count
- Market share of the key equipment suppliers involved in thin wafer processes and dicing technologies
- Key technical insights into future dicing equipment trends and challenges
- Analysis of technology trends for thinning and dicing
- Technology roadmap
- Latest technical innovations
- Analysis of the key equipment and materials vendors
- New analysis based on the competitive landscape and market share for all main dicing equipment suppliers
- Key technical insights and detailed analysis on equipment solution trends, requirements, and challenges
- Roadmap for technology, evolution and future development, including disruptive technologies such as plasma dicing