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2018

09/26

I understand the chip test industry

From IDM to vertical division of labor, the specialized division of labor in the IC industry has spawned independent test vendors. The integrated circuit industry has gradually emerged since the 1960s. Early companies were IDM operating models (vertical integration), which covered the entire chip production process of design, manufacturing, packaging and testing. These enterprises generally have large scale and comprehensive technology. And accumulated deep features, such as Intel, Samsung and so on. As the cost of technology upgrades increases and the requirements for the production efficiency of the IC industry increase, the entire industry is gradually moving toward a vertical division of labor.


In 1987, TSMC was founded, which separated IC manufacturing from the IC industry, and then gradually developed into an industrial chain model of design, manufacturing, packaging, and testing. This vertical division of labor model first greatly enhances the operational efficiency of the entire industry. Secondly, the design of relatively light assets and the separation of manufacturing and packaging of heavy assets are conducive to centralizing R&D investment in all aspects, accelerating technological development, and reducing the enterprise's Access thresholds and operating costs; in addition, each link is handed over to different vendors to enhance the professionalism of the company and the accuracy of the production process. In addition, the separation of professional tests from the packaging and testing can reduce the repetitive capacity investment, and can provide professional testing services for small and medium-sized design manufacturers stably, reduce the testing cost of products and reduce the industrial cost by scale effect.

微信图片_20180925180637.jpgThe integrated circuit tests the key nodes of the card industry chain, which runs through the whole process of design, manufacturing, packaging and application. From the perspective of the entire manufacturing process, integrated circuit testing includes design verification at the design stage, process inspection at the wafer fabrication stage, wafer testing before packaging, and finished product testing after packaging, throughout the design, manufacturing, packaging, and application. The process plays an important role in ensuring chip performance and improving the efficiency of the industrial chain.

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Design verification, also known as laboratory testing or characterization testing, is to verify that the design is correct before the chip enters mass production and requires functional testing and physical verification.


Process process inspection, that is, testing in the wafer manufacturing process, requires testing of defects, film thickness, line width, critical dimensions, etc., and is a front test.


Chip Probing (Chip Probing) is a test of wafers after completion of the foundry. The purpose is to pick out the bad dies before dicing to reduce the package and finished chips. Test cost, while counting the die pass rate on the wafer, the exact location of the unqualified die, and the qualification rate of various forms, can directly reflect the wafer manufacturing yield and verify the wafer manufacturing capability.


The final test of the chip (Final Test) is also used to damage some of the circuits during the dicing, bonding, packaging and aging process of the integrated circuit. Therefore, after the package and aging, the finished circuit should be comprehensive according to the test specifications. The circuit performance test is to select qualified finished products, classify according to the parameter index of device performance, and record the number of devices at various levels and the statistical distribution of various parameters; according to these data and information, the quality management department supervises the quality of the products. Production management department controls the production of circuits.

微信图片_20180925180657.jpgIn terms of IC manufacturing, the domestic key investment in the construction of a large number of fabs, and the expansion of production lines. From 2017 to 2020, the number of new fabs in China (12) accounted for 41.94% of the world's total, and the global production capacity has gradually increased. In 2015, domestic fab production capacity only accounts for about 10% of the world's total. In 2020, it is expected to reach 18%. %, and by 2025 it will reach more than 22%, and the compound growth rate will be above 10%.

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The cost advantage of large-scale is obvious, and the specialization of testing is the general trend. The IC industry continues to refine its division of labor, and the professionalization of chip testing is bound to be the general trend. First, the evolution and process of IC processes are becoming more and more complicated. The requirements for parameter control and defect detection in the process are getting higher and higher, and the demand for IC test specialization is increasing. Secondly, the chip design tends to be diversified and customized, and the corresponding test. The program is also diversified, and the requirements for testing talents and experience are improved. Testing outsourcing is conducive to reducing the burden on SMEs and increasing efficiency. In addition, professional testing has certain advantages in terms of cost. At present, the test equipment is mainly imported, the value of single machine is up to 300,000 US dollars to 1 million US dollars. The characteristics of heavy assets industry are obvious, the capital investment is huge, the third-party testing company has obvious advantages in specialization and scale, and the test product diversification accelerated test plan. Iterative, a steady stream of orders guarantees capacity utilization. Therefore, in addition to Fabless companies, the original IDM, wafer fabrication, and packaging plants tend to pass the test portion to third-party testing companies for cost reasons.


Domestic IC design companies prefer mainland test vendors for docking costs and domestic independent control of OEM and packaging and testing. Domestic IC design companies have high transportation and communication docking costs in the process of docking with overseas test vendors, including foundries. At the same time, based on domestic independent controllable considerations for foundry and packaging and testing, they can In the case of providing professional IC testing services, designers are more inclined to choose mainland test vendors.


1.2.2 The potential market size of domestic IC professional testing will reach 30 billion yuan by 2020


Domestic professional testing companies will benefit from the IC test incremental market, test autonomy and specialization. Domestic professional testing of the future market space depends on three aspects: upstream IC design and wafer OEM capacity expansion caused by the incremental market; domestic testing gradually mature to replace overseas test vendors; domestic semiconductor industry division of work after more detailed design, Manufacturing and packaging plants choose third-party testing.


The potential market size of domestic professional testing in 2017 is about 16 billion yuan, and will reach 30 billion yuan by 2020. IC professional testing is closely related to IC design companies. According to the statistics of Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute, IC professional testing costs account for about 6-8% of IC design revenue. Based on this calculation, the potential market size of domestic 2017 IC professional testing is 160. About 100 million yuan will reach 30 billion yuan by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of 24%.

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2 Domestic professional testing is in the primary catch-up phase, and the company’s first-mover advantage is the first to achieve breakthrough.


2.1 The overall packaging and testing pattern is stable, and the market share of independent professional testing exceeds 50%.


The overall packaging and testing market presents a three-pronged situation in Taiwan, the mainland and the United States. The output value of the mainland is estimated to reach 189 billion yuan. In terms of the overall packaging and testing market, Taiwan, the mainland and the United States are currently in a three-pronged pattern. Taiwan’s packaging and testing market has been nearly half of the world for many years, ranking first; the domestic packaging and testing industry has entered the first echelon of global testing and testing after capital mergers and acquisitions. The market share ranks in the top three. In 2017, the output value reached 189 billion yuan. Changjiang Electronics Technology, Tianshui Huatian and Tongfu Microelectronics entered the top ten in the world; the United States relied on 14.89% of the global market share.

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The market share of independent professional testing has increased year by year. IC testing runs through the entire process of chip manufacturing, which is of great significance to ensure the performance and stability of the chip. Test independence will not only help its professional improvement, but also timely analyze and feedback the problems in chip design and manufacturing to reduce production capacity. Waste, effectively reducing production costs and improving efficiency. Therefore, the proportion of independent professional testing in global IC testing has increased year by year, and is expected to reach 55.4% in 2020.

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2.2 Taiwan professional test takes up 70% of the global market share, domestic professional testing is in the primary catch-up phase


Taiwan has a 70% market share in global professional testing and is in an absolute leading position. As an advantageous area of the OEM model, Taiwan has more than 30 professional outsourcing test companies, which are absolutely leading in quantity, quality and scale. According to the IEK statistics of the Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute, the IC test value of Taiwan in 2017 was 31.96 billion yuan (US$4.7 billion), and the global market share was about 70%. Among them, Kyungwon Electronics of Taiwan is currently the leading professional external inspection company in the world. In 2017, its revenue reached 4.355 billion yuan, its net profit was 494 million yuan, and its market value was 7.233 billion yuan, accounting for 13.63% of the Taiwan test market. The eighth of the world's top ten packaging and testing plants.

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The domestic professional testing field is still in the primary catch-up phase, and the small and medium-sized testing companies are developing rapidly. At present, domestic IC professional testing is still in the middle and early stage of development, and dozens of small and medium-sized test companies have developed rapidly along with the upstream design and manufacturing links. However, compared with mature companies such as Taiwan's KYEC, domestic IC test companies still have large gaps in scale and technology.

微信图片_20180925181109.jpgIndependently operating, market-oriented IC test companies are growing faster than the industry average. At present, there are two main types of domestic IC professional testing companies. One is the IC testing company with the background of state-owned enterprises. For example, the major shareholders of Hualing, Zhengan Technology and China Resources Simeco are Fudan Microelectronics, Huada Electronics and China Resources Electronics. The positioning of IC test vendors in the background of such state-owned enterprises lies between the internal testing department and the market-oriented testing service providers. The major shareholders are also large customers. They have the advantage of resources and also have problems of insufficient expansion power and weak marketization ability. At present, the scale growth rate is relatively slow. The other is a market-oriented professional tester represented by Liyang Chip, Weifu Semiconductor, and Shanghai Wei Test Semiconductor. These enterprises directly serve domestic IC design companies and have strong market development capabilities. They have developed rapidly in recent years. .

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2.3 Technology and scale-leading enterprises have obvious first-mover advantages


At present, the domestic professional test capacity is seriously insufficient. Most test vendors are positioned in the low-end market and do not have the ability to develop test programs and procedures. The first to gain the advantage of the first to achieve capacity expansion and establish technological advantages, it is expected to quickly open the gap with competitors through scale and technical barriers.


First, chip testing is part of the production outsourcing segment of the Fabless model. The manufacturing properties are strong, and the production capacity is completely dependent on equipment procurement (capital investment). Like traditional manufacturing, it also undergoes the process of capacity ramping and process optimization, with scale. What comes from experience and the advantages of process leadership. Secondly, the scale also determines the structure of the downstream customers. Large design manufacturers will only cooperate with testers of a certain scale. It is difficult to undertake large orders on the scale, and the customer structure is difficult to optimize. Therefore, technology and scale-leading enterprises will embark on a benign cycle of technological leadership - customer development - financing expansion - capacity climbing - process optimization - technology leading edge expansion, and will gradually open the gap with competitors.

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3 Technology R&D level, marketization level and capital operation capability constitute the core competitiveness of IC professional testing enterprises


3.1 Independent test plan development capability and rich test experience constitute technical barriers


IC test procedures are cumbersome and demanding. Wafer testing and finished product testing are essentially electrical performance tests of integrated circuits, including the electrical, electrical and circuit functions of the chip, where the function is the behavior (capability) of the device, the characteristic is the behavior of the device behavior, and the characteristic parameter is The main features of the device. Therefore, the electrical performance test is to test the electrical characteristics, electrical parameters and functions of the integrated circuit under different conditions. In addition, a series of test specifications will be adopted in the process of IC testing to improve the design, process control and use level of integrated circuits, including specification specifications, production specifications, user specifications and end-of-life specifications, corresponding to chip operating conditions. Evaluation of tolerance limits and circuit performance standards, online testing during production, user acceptance testing, and reliability evaluation.

微信图片_20180925181834.jpgTechnology research and development focuses on test procedures and test program development. The test procedure in the wafer test phase is the process control program, and the developed control program is recorded into the machine to test the wafer. The test procedure in the final test phase is developed based on the chip function test, usually the program is burned on the chip. After the recording, the function test is performed. Test solution development is based on the combination of different test types and chip types to achieve test efficiency. For example, wafer test is to match the probe station with the test machine to realize and optimize different sizes and The wafer of the process technology is tested, and the finished product test is to match the sorter with the test machine.

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IC testing requires a lot of experience. Test companies rely on talent and experience and need to continuously develop to adapt to new processes and new process needs. In terms of R&D, IC testing is constantly updated with the diversification of chip products and the development of Moore's Law. Test companies need to continuously develop, introduce and debug new test platforms to meet the testing needs of new products, new processes and new processes; talents, IC testing Throughout the various stages of chip production, test engineers must not only have test-related capabilities such as test solution development and equipment debugging, but also have knowledge and experience in chip design and manufacturing. China's current IC talents are obviously broken, and test engineers are weak. Talents with market-based experience are rare; in terms of experience, IC testing, like traditional manufacturing, needs to go through the process of capacity ramping and process optimization, and requires testing experience of different customers and different products.


3.2 Professional testing companies with strong marketization and capital operation capabilities can achieve rapid expansion


IC testing is closely integrated with upstream customers. Test solution development and process optimization capabilities come from different types of chip testing experience brought by a large number of customers. The close integration of IC testing with upstream design and wafer processing requires long-term joint development and integration with customers. In combination with customer feedback, the test plan and process flow can be continuously optimized. At the same time, long-term cooperation will also form a high barrier. In addition, the different chip testing experience brought by a large number of customers is the basis for improving the development of test solutions and optimizing the process flow.

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