Insights From Leading Edge

IFTLE 214 Nanium’s Mamouth WLCSP, IBM Deal Done; Cu WB at TI

By Dr. Phil Garrou, Contributing Editor


Most of us know of Nanium as a contract assembly house in Portugal who licensed the Infineon eWLB fan out technology and is supplying such packages on 300mm wafers.

NANIUM also has extensive volume manufacturing experience in WB  multi-chip memory packages, combining Wafer-level RDL techniques (redistribution) with multiple die stacking in a package.

nanium 2

In 2012 Nanium licensed the 300mm FC bumping and Spheron fan-in WLCSP technologies from Flip Chip International (FCI) [link]. After completing line setup and qualification for that technology, the company added the capability to manufacture fan-in WLP product.

Today, they call themselves a “Wafer Level Packaging solution provider” as more than 90% of their business is now WLP.

In May we discussed Nanium’s presentation “Wafer Level Fan-Out as Fine-Pitch Interposer” that proposed eWLB as an alternative to 2.5D silicon with sufficient capability for many applications in high volume at reasonable cost.  [ see IFTLE 194, “…… SEMI Singapore part 3: Nanium, Fujitsu, EVG”]

NANIUM has now announced commercialization of a 29nm, 25mm x 23mm (about the maximum reticle size allowed),  fan-in WLCSP  on 300mm wafers for customer  Custom Silicon Solutions (CSS).

CSS reports that such large dies are usually packaged in WB-BGA or FC-BGA with underfill material between bumped die and FC substrate for board-level reliability.

Naniums WLCSP has 1,188 solder balls on a  0.7mm BGA pitch. It has successfully passed more than 400 temperature cycles on board (-25 – +100 C). Die are 475um thick.


IFTLE Agrees that WLCSP technology has traditionally been limited to chips less than 7mm and the packaging community has been looking for technologies to allow the manufacture of greater than 10mm WLCSP.

ITLE has contacted Nanium for further “insight” and learned that they use 380um BGA solder balls that collapse to 300um stand off height after reflow. Reliability testing of the large WLCSP are done without underfill and do not have a polymer collar or similar technology improving their reliability. PBO based devices pass 400 cycles and PI based devices pass 600 cycles. Nanium does note that the customer is underfilling when assembling to the board “to be on the safe side.”

When asked directly what they key technology breakthrough was/is Naniums’s Steffen Kroehnert responded, “There really in not one big thing…there are a lot of small things…material dielectric choice makes a big difference…design features such as trace and pad design and size , copper area loading, Cu thickness, thick UBM and optimization of solder ball  alloy all contributed.”

IBM Deal Done

Every once in awhile I break with normal journalistic decorum and like a little boy in the school yard get pleasure from shouting “I told you so” (OK…maybe a little more than every once in awhile).  My little Italian grandmother (Nonna) told me not to gloat when you were right about something because no one likes such people… but it’s hard to resist. [For my non US readers, gloating is “…dwelling on one’s correctness with smugness.”]

IFTLE came to the conclusion that IBM would sell off their semiconductor business several years ago when it became clear that future node fabs would cost far more to construct  ( $4-6B) than the IBM semi business was making on a yearly basis (~ $1B). These simple economics would eventually prevail. As they pulled so called “IBM friends and family” around them in NY a few years ago, it became clear that they were positioning to have one of these “friends” buy the business and become their supplier. It has been clear for more than a year that Global Foundries was the logical choice.

Some were shocked when rumors leaked that IBM was having to sweeten the pot with significant cash in order to get GF to take over their money loosing semiconductor operation. But, as I have explained previously, that’s what is required when  you take over a business that’s loosing ~ $2B / yr . What Global gets out of this deal is not the manufacturing capability or the customer list, but rather the people and the IP. Once they restructure I see this as a good deal for GF and for IBM employees who obviously were no longer required by their now ex employer.

IBM has now officially announced the deal with Globalfoundries [link].  IBM will pay GF $1.5B to take over their chip manufacturing operations, which will continue to produce processors used in IBM systems.

Recently reported revenues from IBM’s Systems and Technology segment, which includes the company’s computers, declined 14%. The company’s other hardware segment-the Power systems, based on IBM-designed computer chips, fell 12%.

Cu WB at TI

TI began shipping copper WB, which delivers a 40% increase in conductivity, in its products in 2008.  Today, all of TI’s assembly sites are running copper WB on all TI package types, including BGA, QFN, QFP, TSSOP, SOIC, PDIP and others.  Copper is currently 71 percent of TI’s total WB usage. Existing analog and CMOS silicon technology nodes have been qualified with copper WB, and all new TI technologies and packages are being developed with copper WB.

TI is currently shipping about two billion units of copper wire bond technology each quarter.  TI has shipped more than 22 billion units of copper wire bonding technology from its internal assembly sites and is now in production for major high reliability applications including automotive and industrial.

TI 1

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One thought on “IFTLE 214 Nanium’s Mamouth WLCSP, IBM Deal Done; Cu WB at TI

  1. Pingback: Blog review October 27, 2014 | Semiconductor Manufacturing & Design Community

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