By E. Jan Vardaman and Clark Tseng
Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Test (OSAT) service providers experienced strong growth in 2017, but will this growth continue? In the last few years, OSAT growth has been driven by shipments for packages found in smartphones, but this market is slowing. What will replace it? Growth in power devices is strong and electronic content in vehicles is increasing. Will OSATs participate in this growth? Many OSATs have plants dedicated to automotive package assembly and will see continued growth.
Growing demand for connectivity everywhere, called IoT, is generating large amounts of data, creating the need for more servers and datacenters. The adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) across a broad range of applications is driving demand for high-performance packages, but will this assembly take place at the OSATs or foundries?
In the third and fourth quarters of 2017, growth in cryptocurrency provided unanticipated revenue for a number of OSATs. Given that the most well-known crypto mining companies and the biggest mining pools are all based in China, several OSATs, including major Taiwanese and Chinese service providers, experienced revenue growth in 2017 directly attributed to the assembly of ASICs in flip chip scale packages (FC-CSPs) and GPUs in flip chip ball grid arrays (FC-BGAs) for the cryptocurrency market.
However, the first and second quarter of this year has seen decreased demand for GPUs and ASICs for this application. The assembly of packages for cryptocurrency slowed considerably in the first half of the year and therefore can’t be counted on to add as much to the revenue base as in the previous year. Going into the latter half of the year, the demand for Crypto ASICs is expected to pick up as new generation of 7nm chips will drive new investment and replacement cycle while crypto-mining GPU will see a further decline.
Three of the top 10 OSATs, Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics Technology (JCET), Tianshui Huatian Technology (Huatian), and Tongfu Microelectronics (TFME), are based in China. China’s share of the top 10 OSATs’ revenue increased from slightly less than 23 percent in 2016 to more than 25 percent in 2017, and this trend is expected to continue. Crypto-related packaging and test business has certainly contributed a big portion of the share gain. Major OSATs such as TFME and Tianshui Huatian plan expansion in their plants and they expect to fill this added capacity in a broad range of packages. Huatian’s new Nanjing plant will include assembly for memory packages. TFME plans to set up a plant in Xiamen, Fujian Province to provide bumping, wafer level packaging, and system-in-packaging (SiP) services.
Tracking the capabilities of OSATs is increasingly important. SEMI and TechSearch International have introduced a new Worldwide OSAT Manufacturing Site Database that provides listings of OSAT facility locations and package and test options in each factory. This database indicates the specific packages offered at each location.
Finding plants that offer automotive qualified assembly is also possible with the database. Companies that offer bumping and wafer level packaging are identified. Over 120 companies and 300 facilities are tracked in this database covering both OSAT packaging and test facilities. For additional information about this informative database, please visit http://info.semi.org/osat-database-sample-request
E. Jan Vardaman is president of TechSearch International, Inc., and Clark Tseng is director of Industry Research and Statistics at SEMI.