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China's integrated circuit packaging equipment should seize the opportunity of process development trends

In recent years, international giants such as Intel, Samsung and TSMC are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the advanced packaging industry, surpassing Moore's Law and pushing packaging status to unprecedented heights. The IC packaging and testing industry has entered a new era. China's integrated circuit industry continues to maintain high-speed growth, technological innovation capabilities continue to increase, and industrial development support capabilities have significantly improved. China's integrated circuit packaging equipment should seize the opportunity of this process development trend.


Opportunities and challenges for the development of integrated circuit equipment


Since 2017, integrated circuit chips have surpassed oil to become China's largest import commodity. The country is promoting the development of the integrated circuit industry from top-level design to specific links. The National Major Science and Technology 02 Project, which was implemented in 2008, and the National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund, which was established in 2014, have greatly promoted technological and industrial development. China is the world's largest consumer market for integrated circuits, but in the global semiconductor industry chain, it is still at the low-end of the industrial division of labor.


At the same time, the global integrated circuit industry layout is constantly changing, accelerating the transfer to developing countries. At present, global semiconductor sales and investment have entered a new period of rapid growth. Wafer manufacturing plants and packaging and testing plants are increasing their investment unprecedentedly. New wafer fabs and packaging and testing plants have sprung up. In the next few years, China's annual investment in integrated circuits will be around 500 billion yuan, of which 70% of investment is procurement equipment and materials. Therefore, it is necessary to implement an incentive policy to further increase the localization rate of equipment. One generation of devices, one generation of technology, one generation of equipment, and integrated circuit manufacturing equipment are the weakest link in China's chip industry chain. At present, domestic semiconductor equipment basically depends on imports. The world's well-known semiconductor equipment manufacturers are mainly concentrated in the United States, Japan, the Netherlands, and South Korea Developed countries.


Focus on the development of integrated circuit packaging equipment


At present, packaging and testing account for a larger proportion in the integrated circuit industry, and its development maturity is better than the wafer manufacturing process. Traditional packaging equipment includes polishing, scribing, mounting, bonding, flip-chip, etc. Advanced packaging will also use front-end equipment such as photolithography, etching, plating, PVD, CVD, etc. According to SEMI statistics, in the past 10 years, the global packaging equipment market has grown at an average annual rate of 6.9%. In 2018, the global packaging equipment market reached USD 4 billion. However, the market for all types of packaging equipment is oligopolistic. For example, Japan's Disco has monopolized more than 80% of the global packaging key equipment thinner and dicing machine market. Other packaging equipment vendors include ASM Pacific, K & S, Besi, Disco, and others.


The localization rate of advanced integrated circuit packaging equipment is gradually increasing. Equipment such as lithography machines for integrated circuit packaging, as well as flip-chip, etching, PVD, cleaning, development, and glue leveling equipment have all met domestic advanced packaging requirements. The domestic production rate of advanced packaging equipment for advanced packaging is high. The lithography machine, etching machine, ball planter, etc. exceed 50%, but the localization rate of traditional packaging equipment does not exceed 10%. For a long time, the industry generally believes that the technical difficulty of packaging equipment is far lower than that of wafer manufacturing equipment, and the industry's attention is low. Industrial policies are tilted towards wafer fabs, packaging and testing plants, and wafer manufacturing equipment. Although the national major science and technology 02 has increased its support in recent years, the overall packaging equipment lacks industrial policy cultivation and verification opportunities from packaging and testing customers.

China's packaging equipment is on the low end as a whole, and it is rarely used in the packaging process of high-end integrated circuits. Individual models have entered the market based on customized needs, and a virtuous cycle of high-end R & D has not yet formed in mass production. The author believes that the main reasons are as follows: First, China's basic industry is weak, and the core components are "stuck necks", such as air-floating spindles, which restrict the development of high-end thinning machines and dicing machines. Second, high equipment R & D investment and equipment trial and error The high cost makes it difficult to form market-feedback R & D, leading to a serious loss of core technical personnel. Third, the reliability of domestic packaging equipment is a problem that needs to be solved urgently. The customers of packaging companies cannot accept domestic equipment, and domestic equipment has fewer opportunities for trial and error. Fourth, there is a shortage of high-end technical personnel and teams for packaging equipment, key technologies have not been solved for a long time, and equipment performance has been slowly improved.


Market and technology two-wheel drive domestic packaging equipment industry


The development of integrated circuit packaging equipment is driven by market forces and technology. Localization should be led by chip design manufacturers. Chip design drives packaging and testing, and manufacturing packaging and testing drives equipment materials, creating an atmosphere that encourages innovation. At present, the overall technical level of China's integrated circuit equipment industry is not high, the core product innovation capability is not strong, and the overall equipment is still at the low-end. The advancement of the equipment industry is a long and gradual process. On the one hand, we must continue to catch up with the existing gap. On the other hand, with the continuous emergence of new designs and new processes, we must make efforts in advanced packaging processes and customize equipment. It provided a stage for domestic equipment to make great progress, and seized the opportunity of technological development trends, so that domestic equipment could make a breakthrough.


At present, China does not yet have a large and strong packaging equipment company. The next development of integrated circuit packaging equipment in China is worth pondering. The author puts forward suggestions from the following aspects: first, to vigorously support the development of core components of equipment, to form cooperation with leading enterprises in domestic related fields, and to establish special national special projects to support the development of core components; second, platform-level enterprises vigorously introduce high-end talent and The team, especially the leader of an international leader in packaging equipment, creates a loose environment conducive to the development of talents, builds a collaborative innovation system with enterprises as the mainstay, supported by universities and scientific research institutions, and mutual promotion of production, teaching and research; Continuous policy-oriented process-equipment ecosystem consortium collaborative innovation, composed of domestic end-users, design, manufacturing, packaging and testing, materials, equipment and other integrated IC industry chain upstream and downstream companies, using the resources and Technology advantages, jointly develop advanced technologies; Fourth, strengthen capital operations, deep integration, share resources, improve technological research and development and innovation capabilities, strengthen and expand enterprises, equipment companies can use mergers and acquisitions to enhance their own competitiveness, expand survival space and reduce costs To save research funding Through the industry's upstream and downstream links.


Taking the development of domestic 12-inch wafer dicing machine as an example, the 12-inch dicing machine has the characteristics of multi-chip cutting, high efficiency, high precision, and labor cost savings. Domestic packaging companies urgently need inexpensive 12-inch wafer dicing. machine. Beijing CLP Electronic Equipment Co., Ltd., with the support of the "02 Special Project" of the country, has begun to develop a 12-inch dicing machine since 2014, breaking through the bi-axial structure table bridging technology, large-diameter thin wafer transfer technology, and high rigidity gas. Key technologies such as floating spindle technology and tool mark recognition analysis system design. At the end of 2017, the process verification was completed in Suzhou Jingfang. After a year of technology accumulation in 2018, important technological breakthroughs and market breakthroughs were achieved in 2019, and batch production was achieved. The contract value was over 10 million yuan.

Source: China Electronics News, Electronic Information Industry Network