Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Competition between TSMC and Samsung Electronics, the world’s top foundry players, is expanding from micro-fabrication processes to packaging technology.
While micro-fabrication is about making semiconductors smaller, packaging is about stacking multiple chips in a certain area (package) or deploying them more efficiently. The recent evolution of the foundry business from contract manufacturing to comprehensive services has increased the importance of packaging.
Samsung Electronics' foundry business department has recently decided to expand its packaging services to four types by the end of 2021. The Korean semiconductor giant intends to diversify its packaging services by performance and price to give its customers more options.
Currently, Samsung Electronics' flagship packaging service is "X-Cube," a three-dimensional (3D) stacking technology. It is a technology that stacks several wafer chips, which have completed the pre-process, high up.
In addition, Samsung Electronics has finished developing the “2.5D RDL” service that places two high-bandwidth memories (HBMs) next to logic parts. The chipmaker is also planning to start the “I-Cube 8X” service that places eight HBMs and logic parts on 5cm-wide and 5cm-long chips and the “X/I Cube” service that combines the strengths of X-Cube and I-Cube at the end of 2021. In order to diversify packaging services, Samsung Electronics has included Amco, the world's second-largest back-end process company, in the list of its foundry partners.
Samsung Electronics' foundry department is beefing up its packaging services because it needed to differentiate itself in competition with TSMC.
Competition between Samsung Electronics and TSMC will further intensify. Recently, the foundry business evolving from simple manufacturing of chips based on designs to providing pre- and post-foundry processes such as electronic design automation (EDA), intellectual property (IP) disclosure, design and packaging.
With the importance of packaging services growing, related markets are also on uptick. The semiconductor high-tech packaging market will expand from US$29 billion in 2019 to US$42 billion in 2025, forecast French market research company Yole Development.
Samsung Electronics' competitor TSMC is also actively strengthening its packaging services. TSMC’s board has recently endorsed the company’s plan to invest US$15.1 billion in pre- and post-foundry processes. TSMC is currently testing “3D SoIC” technology, which is similar to Samsung Electronics' X-Cube, according to industry sources. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun of Japan also reported that TSMC will produce semiconductors together with major customers Google and AMD by making use of 3D technology from as early as 2022."
"Packing technology is a field where Samsung Electronics and TSMC will compete fiercely for a considerable period of time." said a semiconductor industry expert.
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