Growth in the nation’s integrated circuit (IC) packaging and testing sector is likely to lag behind that of other semiconductor sectors this year, a think tank forecast.
The production value of the IC packaging sector will grow by between 5.1 and 5.2 percent this year, said Ray Yang (楊瑞臨), a manager at the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center (IEK, 產業經濟與趨勢研究中心) of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (工研院).
That is less than the 7 percent to 8 percent growth forecast for Taiwan’s DRAM production value, the 6 percent growth projected for the IC design sector and the 5.5 percent growth expected for the nation’s contract chipmakers, Yang said.
IC packaging growth will be limited this year because the momentum for new-phase packaging and testing products has yet to be set in motion, leaving the sector without any strong drivers of higher growth, Yang added.
Among those potential growth engines are the 3D TSV (“two silicon via”) and 2.5D (“two-and-a-half-dimensional”) processes used to create the 3D packages and ICs that are expected to become mainstream in the semiconductor supply chain in the coming years.
IEK researcher Chen Ling-chun (陳玲君) wrote in a study that large contract chipmakers, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), United Microelectronics Corp (聯電) and US-based GlobalFoundries Inc, will focus on developing “front-end” 3D TSV and 2.5D processes this year.
As the large chipmakers work on developing integrated 3D TSV processes, IC packagers and testers will work on mastering “middle-end” processes that support the advanced TSV manufacturing process, such as embedded die technologies, Chen said.
TSMC and other foundries are gearing up to offer their customers complete front-end, middle-end and back-end (assembly and testing) services, potentially threatening the business of dedicated packaging and testing companies.
However, sources familiar with the sector did not expect the nation’s packaging and testing industry to respond by developing their own front-end wafer processing capabilities because of cost concerns, instead focusing on mastering middle-end processes.