Semiconductors are the critical component that enables our digital lives. Their development has come a long way. In 1971, the Intel 4004, which was the first single-chip processor, had only 2,250 transistors, as of 2022, the most advanced processor has more than 50 billion transistors! However, progress comes at a price – development and production costs have soared that the industry is looking for an alternative solution to manage costs while continuing to offer advanced products. Besides, there is the demand for smaller devices, the necessity of compact integration of heterogeneous components, and the need for higher connection density, which is why advanced semiconductor packaging is taking center stage.
In this article, we will cover the growth drivers of advanced semiconductor encapsulation technologies in data center applications, as well as provide several examples of high-end commercial server products that embrace advanced semiconductor encapsulation technologies. The content of this article is taken from IDTechEx’s newly released market research report, “Advanced Semiconductor Encapsulation 2022-2033Applications of advanced semiconductor encapsulation technologies covered in the report include far beyond data centers for autonomous vehicles, 5G and 6G, and consumer electronics.
Advanced Semiconductor Encapsulation Technologies – A Critical Foundation for the Next Generation of Integrated Circuits for High Performance Computing/Data Center Applications
When designing a highly energy-efficient system for high-performance computing (HPC) and data center applications, there are three trends regarding Si: more transistors, more memories, and more interconnection between IC logic and memory. More transistors will require, among many challenges, chip design to go beyond the network limit, beyond the scope of advanced semiconductor encapsulation. On the other hand, more memories, which can be achieved through higher bandwidth memory as well as more I/O number, and more interconnection between IC logic and memory, can be achieved through advanced semiconductor packing techniques.
Besides technological improvement, cost management is still a major topic in this field as well. The Chiplet design has emerged as a way to help the seller find a balance between cost and performance. Chiplet design is a modular approach to building processors. Using a micro-chip design, different molds/chips can be created using the most suitable process node, reducing the overall device cost by reducing the modern (expensive!) process node use of unnecessary parts. Another driver for chip design is the need for more I/O. Encapsulating I/O dies such as SerDes, PCIEs, memory I/O, etc. on the same unit with processing units that use 2.5D or equivalent semiconductor encapsulation technology allows for an increase in the number of I/O into the system. Advanced 2.5D semiconductor encapsulation is the only technology enabling sub-micron routing available today.
Recent use cases and future development trend
Let’s take a look at some of the latest commercial products that have used or are likely to implement advanced semiconductor encapsulation technologies in the industry. Take the dependence on the server’s CPU as an example. The majority of current server CPUs are based on a monolithic SoC (System on a Chip), and Intel announced in 2021 that the next generation of its server CPU, Sapphire Rapids, will be based on a four-chip unit interconnected via an Embedded Multilink Bridge (EMIB). EMIB is Intel’s advanced 2.5D semiconductor encapsulation solution. Meanwhile, AMD is leveraging the power of advanced 3D semiconductor encapsulation technologies to stack a cache directly on top of the processor to boost the performance of its latest CPU Milan-X server (products released March 2022). AMD claims that 3D packaging enables 200x more contact density compared to regular 2D packaging. With both the leading I and II server CPU provider using advanced semiconductor packaging technologies in their latest state-of-the-art products, the field’s adoption of only advanced semiconductor packaging technologies is expected to expand. In addition to server CPUs, for other components in the data center, such as accelerators, advanced semiconductor encapsulation technology has already been adopted. For example, NVIDIA has been using TSMC’s 2.5D encapsulation technology – CoWoS (chip-on-a-chip on a substrate) – for its high-end GPU accelerators since 2016.
Although many high-end commercial products have already used advanced 2.5D technologies for packaging semiconductors, several development initiatives are currently underway to improve the performance of these devices and expand the package size to accommodate additional components. Development will progress beyond 2.5D integration. Ultimately, the goal is to have a fully 3D integration where multiple logic and memory integrated circuits are placed on top of each other. However, the path is by no means simple. Thermal management and manufacturing face many problems that have not yet been overcome.
Finally, given the world’s growing need for data centers, developments in advanced semiconductor encapsulation technologies, which are essential for the next generation of integrated circuits (ICs) for high-performance computing applications, will have a significant impact on the market.
“Advanced Semiconductor Encapsulation 2023-2033‘, a new market research report from IDTechEx, examines the latest developments and trends in advanced semiconductor packaging technology, key player analyzes, and market prospects.
The main aspects of the report are listed below:
Technology trends, manufacturer analysis and market forecast
– Detailed overview of the Si IC industry – including technology roadmap and player dynamics
Supply chain analysis and business model in the semiconductor IC industry
– Analysis of different semiconductor encapsulation techniques
– In-depth analysis of the main company’s advanced semiconductor packaging technologies – including the company’s latest technology and future research development
Detailed overview of the major markets for advanced semiconductor packaging. Including high performance computing, autonomous vehicles, 5G, and consumer electronics
Numerous case studies demonstrating the use of advanced semiconductor packaging in many applications
Market scalability of key advanced semiconductor packaging technologies (including 2.5D inline Si, 2.5 Si interposer, 2.5D (Ultra) high density and 3D mold stacking) in the four core markets (data center, autonomous vehicles, 5G, electronics Consumerism) studied by IDTechEx. This information is translated into accurate 10-year market analysis and forecasts
For this IDTechEx report, including downloadable sample pages, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/ASP.
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