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

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)


[News] Advanced Packaging in High Demand, TSMC and OAST Increasing Equipment Orders

As AI demand continues to surge, TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) has initiated an extensive expansion plan for its CoWoS (Chip-on-Wafer-on-Substrate) production. Within the industry, reports suggest that TSMC, a leading semiconductor foundry, placed a significant wave of orders with Taiwanese equipment manufacturers last week, creating a notable impact.

Additionally, outsourced semiconductor assembly and testing (OSAT) giants, which were originally inquiring about orders, have also significantly increased their orders for advanced packaging. This wave of orders is estimated to be fulfilled between March and April of the upcoming year.

The growth in demand for advanced semiconductor processes due to AI applications necessitates advanced packaging technologies to keep pace. With packaging technologies advancing from 2D and 2.5D to the more advanced 3D IC (Integrated Circuit) configurations, the number of IC stacking layers is increasing, leading to a greater demand for advanced packaging equipment. Considering the current emphasis on CoWoS technology, the industry estimates that production capacity will reach 12,000 to 14,000 wafers in 2023 and double to over 30,000 wafers in 2024.

According to a report by Taiwan’s Money DJ, information from equipment industry sources reveals that TSMC recommenced orders for CoWoS equipment in April 2023, with a second wave of orders in June. Subsequently, sporadic additional orders were placed, and last week witnessed a new significant wave of orders, surprising many.

An anonymous executive from a Taiwanese equipment company expressed that they initially believed TSMC’s orders for CoWoS equipment had concluded, making the recent wave of orders even more unexpected. Furthermore, the increase in orders for advanced packaging equipment by semiconductor testing and packaging facilities is also seen as encouraging.

Market experts believe that semiconductor testing and packaging facilities and semiconductor foundries have different positions and advantages in the advanced packaging market. Their cooperative relationships outweigh their competition. Major OSAT players like ASE, Amkor, and JCET have long possessed advanced packaging technology and are positioned to become an alternative choice for major foundries due to their technical upgrades and competitive pricing. In other words, top-tier orders from customers will be firmly in TSMC’s grasp, while other opportunities will likely be pursued by SATS companies.

Regarding the supply of CoWoS equipment, suppliers like Scientech have received over 30 orders for wet etching processing equipment, while Grand Process Technology and others have shipped nearly 20 units. Meanwhile, G2C+ Alliance members such as GMM and C Sun have reportedly received over 40 orders from the TSMC’s Longtan factory.

(Photo credit: TSMC)


[News] ASE Unveils IDE, Intensifies Advance Packaging Pursuit with 50% Shorter Cycles

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering, Inc. (ASE) has unveiled its Integrated Design Ecosystem™ (IDE) – a collaborative design toolkit, meticulously tailored to enhance advanced package architecture on the VIPack™ platform. This innovation streamlines the transition from single-die SoC to multi-die disaggregated IP blocks, encompassing chiplets and memory integration through 2.5D or advanced fanout structures.


[News] UMC and ASE Weigh Price Increases in Booming Advanced Packaging Market

According to a report by Taiwan’s Economic Daily, TSMC is aggressively expanding its advanced packaging capacity. Recently, they placed an additional 30% order for equipment with manufacturers, leading to a doubling of order volumes for companies in the interposer supply chain, such as UMC and ASE Group. Moreover, there are rumors of price increases on the horizon.

TSMC, responding to the robust production demands from major clients like NVIDIA, AMD, and Amazon, has not only expanded its CoWoS capacity as originally planned but has also added another 30% in new equipment. This move implies that once TSMC’s new advanced packaging capacity comes online next year, it will represent at least a doubling of the current production capacity.

Given the substantial demand for TSMC’s advanced packaging orders, coupled with the necessity of interposer in CoWoS for stacking logic computing ICs and high-bandwidth memory, there is an expectation of significant growth in interposer orders, likely exceeding a twofold increase compared to this year. Notably, semiconductor giants like UMC and ASE Group have already secured significant orders from TSMC for interposer layers and are currently in the mass production and delivery stages.

It is understood that UMC, after venturing into the advanced packaging market in recent years, has introduced packaging solutions applicable to IoT, automotive chips, and more, spanning from wafer bumping and wire bonding packaging to advanced 2.5D, 3DIC, and wafer-level fan-out packaging solutions. The most notable among them is the 2.5D silicon interposer layer solution, which, through collaboration with UMC and other specialized packaging facilities, has proven pivotal in securing major orders in the interposer layer market, particularly from NVIDIA.

Industry sources suggest that UMC has increased prices for super hot run interposer layer orders and initiated capacity expansion plans to meet customer demands, while ASE Group is also contemplating adjustments to its advanced packaging quotations.

(Photo credit: UMC)


[News] ASE Penang Factory Expansion Targets Revenue Doubling

According to a report by Taiwan’s Central News Agency, Tien Wu, CEO of the semiconductor packaging and testing giant ASE Group, believes that the semiconductor industry is experiencing ongoing inventory adjustments, with uncertainties remaining in the global economy. However, he maintains a positive long-term outlook, asserting that semiconductor demand remains robust. Wu also revealed that ASE Group is expanding its operations in Penang, Malaysia, with expectations of doubling its revenue to $750 million within 2 to 3 years.

The 2023 Semicon Taiwan is set to begin on the 6th, and when discussing the economic outlook for the second half of the year, Wu noted that the semiconductor industry is well-aware of the current inventory corrections and the lingering global economic uncertainties. Nevertheless, he maintains relative optimism about the industry’s long-term development.

Regarding the company’s involvement in advanced packaging, such as Chip-on-Wafer-on-Substrate (CoWoS), Wu mentioned that ASE Group offers corresponding services in this field. When asked about the contribution of artificial intelligence (AI) applications and advanced packaging to the company’s portfolio, he stated that it’s currently challenging to evaluate. However, he emphasized that AI is a significant focus for ASE Group.

In response to inquiries about whether customers have requested ASE Group to shift a portion of its production capacity outside of Taiwan (Taiwan+1) to mitigate risks, Wu clarified that there have been no specific requests from customers regarding proportional capacity transfers or deadlines for such transfers. Production capacity adjustments are primarily made flexibly, contingent on the readiness of the local supply chain. He emphasized that customer discussions regarding capacity adjustments are rational and logical.

Wu stressed that customer demands are being met in accordance with logic and regulatory considerations. In response to urgent service needs, ASE Group is expanding its operations in locations outside Taiwan. However, this does not signify a complete relocation of Taiwanese production capacity, nor does it indicate that customers have mandated such a shift.

He disclosed that ASE Group’s expansion is taking place in Penang, Malaysia, with the first five-story building expected to be completed by July next year. Plans are in place for a second building by 2025. Currently, ASE Group’s Penang facility generates approximately $350 million in annual revenue. It is projected that within 2 to 3 years, the facility’s revenue will double to $750 million.

In addition to its California presence, Wu highlighted that the ASE Group subsidiary, ISE Labs, has expanded its capacity in San Jose to meet customer demands. He emphasized that ASE Group continues to expand its operations in Taiwan as well, including locations in Zhongli, Kaohsiung, Taichung’s Tanzi.

(Photo credit: ASE)

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