Embedded WLP Market Growing, But Still Small PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Buetow   
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 09:35

LYON, FRANCE -- Embedded wafer-level-package revenue is on the rise, but has a long way to go to reach significant levels.

That's the finding of research firm Yole Développement, which has found that revenues of FOWLPs reached $107 million in 2011 and will rise to $200 million by 2015.

Despite the push from major ODMs like Infineon, revenue is now stabilizing as Intel Mobile progressively phases out its key wireless baseband SoC product production, Yole said.

“This young industry will need to wait until 2015-16 to reach $200 million, as the demand will shift from IDMs to leading fabless wireless IC players, such as Qualcomm, Broadcom, Mediatek, etc., and will be supported by the solid infrastructure of ‘top four’ major assembly houses,” explains Lionel Cadix, market & technology analyst, Advanced Packaging at Yole.

Low reliability on large package body size and lack of flexibility in the IC to package co-design process are the two main factors limiting the wide adoption of FOWLP technology on the wireless IC market, Yole said. FOWLP technology imposes a specific redesign of the chip for efficient integration into the package: both Infineon and STEricsson (which already have products on the market) spent almost 18 month to redesign their baseband and RF-transceiver SoCs in order to place the pads at optimized locations and match with a single RDL, 0.5mm board pitch eWLB package design.

FOWLP is a restrictive package technology for most of the world’s IC designers to adopt efficiently, especially fabless chip companies. This is why only big semiconductor IDM companies having IC-to-package co-design environments well established in-house can drive and support the initial growth of this new wafer-level-packaging platform at its early stages.

Two main OSATs supporting FOWLP infrastructure today, and four more are coming online, Yole said. "FOWLP is clearly the 'middle-end' platform of choice for packaging assembly and test OSAT suppliers in the IC industry, as all implies a simplification and consolidation of the entire packaging, assembly & test and supply chain inside one single factory."

Nanium and Stats ChipPAC shared more than 80% of the $107 million FOWLP revenue revenue last year, mainly driven by Intel Mobile’s volume demand on eWLB production. While ASE is shutting down its 200mm eWLB operations this year to focus on future generation FOWLP technologies, many OSAT players are presently in qualification phase such as ADL, Amkor and NEPES. Additional packaging houses are expected to come onboard in the 2013-14 timeframe, such as TSMC, SPIL and J-Devices.



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