A key enabler of future products and markets, today's advanced substrates in volume are flip chip (FC) substrates, 2.5D/3D through silicon via (TSV) assemblies and thin-film redistribution layers (RDLs) for fan out wafer level packaging (FOWLP) advanced packaging platform, according to analysts at Yole Developpement.

“Advanced substrates are the key interconnect component of advanced packaging architectures," said Andrej Ivankovic, Technology & Market analyst, Advanced Packaging & Semiconductor Manufacturing at Yole Développement.

These advanced substrates are traditionally linked to higher-end logic such as CPUs /GPUs, DSPs, etc., driven by ICs in the latest technology nodes in the computing, networking, mobile and high-end consumer market segments (gaming, HD and smart TV).

Moreover, due to additional form factor and low power demands, WLP and advanced FC substrates are also widespread in majority of smartphone functions, including application processors, baseband, transceivers, filters, amplifiers, Wi-Fi modules, drivers, codecs and power management, according to Yole.

Future higher-end products will require package substrates with L/S <10/10µm and boards with L/S <30/30µm, analysts said. And these demands have given rise to distinct competition areas.

The first is the board vs. FC substrate area, which is characterised by the transition from the subtractive to the modified Semi-Additive Processing (mSAP) process, and competition between board and substrate manufacturers. Evaluation of “substrate-like PCBs” is already under way at OEMs, and so too the potential new integration opportunities they could bring, according to Yole analysts. Furthermore, developments in FC substrate, FOWLP and 2.5D/3D packaging have created an immense competitive arena for L/S <10/10µm packaging, with a large variety of solutions coming from business models across the supply chain including IDMs, foundries, OSATs, WLP houses, substrate manufacturers and EMS.

Yole advsubstrates 01 (cr) ***Figure 1: *Advanced substrate addressable markets (Source: Yole)

The transition to substrates for ICs below L/S <10/10µm has begun—led by application processors/basebands in FOWLP and advanced FC substrates, and the first GPUs in 2.5D/3D TSV configuration. The “below L/S <10/10µm” advanced substrate roadmap is open, with intense R&D underway and each manufacturer developing strategies and targets for their respective solutions, analysts said.