[News] Amkor’s Vietnam Plant Meets High-End Semiconductor Demand as Advanced Packaging Thrives

2023-10-13 Semiconductors editor

On October 11th, Amkor announced the official opening of its factory located in the Yen Phong 2C Industrial Park in Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam. The new facility, occupying 57 acres, is set to become Amkor’s largest, with an investment of approximately $1.6 billion by 2035. The factory primarily focuses on providing advanced system-level packaging and testing solutions to meet the semiconductor industry’s demand for advanced packaging. However, the company has not disclosed the factory’s current production and capacity.

Multiple Players Pursue CoWoS

The ongoing AI trend continues to drive demand for Chip-on-Wafer-on-Substrate (CoWoS) technology, benefiting TSMC, which holds a significant share of CoWoS production orders. However, companies like ASE Group, Amkor, and UMC are also positioning themselves in the CoWoS packaging manufacturing space. Industry experts believe that given the current high demand for TSMC’s CoWoS production, part of this demand may potentially shift to Amkor’s factories.

Furthermore, the popular Nvidia AI chips, which are in high demand globally, utilize 2.5D packaging technology, a responsibility currently held by TSMC. Recently, Nvidia hinted at the mass production of new AI chips like the GH200 and general server chip L40S, with reports suggesting that L40S will not require 2.5D packaging. Instead, it will be shared among several backend packaging companies, including ASE, Amkor, and SPIL.

Industry source has noted the strong demand for CoWoS in the AI sector, and with TSMC’s CoWoS production capacity already unable to meet demand for several quarters, some demand may potentially shift to Amkor or Samaung’s facilities.

Amkor has announced plans to expand its advanced packaging CoWoS-like capacity. According to industry insiders, Amkor’s monthly production capacity for 2.5D advanced packaging is expected to reach approximately 3,000 wafers in early 2023, with estimates of reaching 5,000 wafers by the end of 2023 and aiming for a significant increase to 7,000 units by the end of 2024.

Additionally, ASE Group has announced its presence in advanced CoWoS-related packaging. With their fan-out chip-on-substrate (FOCoS-Bridge) packaging technology, ASE has been chosen by major chip design house to handle their backend packaging after CoW.

In mid-September, South Korean media reported that Samsung is set to introduce its FO-PLP 2.5D advanced packaging technology to catch up with TSMC in the field of advanced packaging for AI chips. Samsung’s Advanced Packaging (AVP) team began developing FO-PLP advanced packaging for 2.5D chip packaging, allowing the integration of System-on-Chip (SoC) and High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) into an interposer to create a complete chip.

It’s worth mentioning that Samsung’s FO-PLP 2.5D packaging is rectangular, while TSMC’s CoWoS 2.5D uses a circular substrate. Samsung’s FO-PLP 2.5D packaging avoids edge substrate losses and boasts higher production efficiency. However, due to the need to transplant chips from wafers onto rectangular substrates, the process is more complex.

CoWoS Demand Continues

CoWoS technology is a form of 2.5D and 3D packaging, where chips are stacked and then packaged onto a substrate, resulting in a 2.5D or 3D structure. This technology reduces chip space, while also decreasing power consumption and costs. CoWoS packaging is applied in high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, data centers, 5G, the Internet of Things, automotive electronics, and other fields.

TrendForce research indicates a growing demand for advanced packaging technologies for AI and HPC chips. Currently, TSMC’s CoWoS is the primary choice for AI server chip production. CoWoS packaging mainly consists of CoW (Chip on Wafer), integrating various logic ICs (such as CPUs, GPUs, ASICs, etc.) and HBM memory, while oS (On Substrate) integrates CoW elements using Solder bump interconnects and packages them on a substrate. These CoWoS packages become the primary computing units on server motherboards, together with other components like networks, storage, power supply units (PSUs), and other I/O units, forming complete AI server systems.

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(Photo credit: Amkor)