The Price Of Such Boards Has Soared By 50%

With the growth of 5G, AI and high-performance computing markets, the demand for IC carriers, especially ABF carriers, has exploded. However, due to the limited capacity of relevant suppliers, the supply of ABF

carriers is in short supply and the price continues to rise. The industry expects that the problem of tight supply of ABF carrier plates may continue until 2023. In this context, four large plate loading plants in Taiwan, Xinxing, Nandian, Jingshuo and Zhending KY, have launched ABF plate loading expansion plans this year, with a total capital expenditure of more than NT $65 billion (about RMB 15.046 billion) in mainland and Taiwan plants. In addition, Japan’s Ibiden and Shinko, South Korea’s Samsung motor and Dade electronics have further expanded their investment in ABF carrier plates.


The demand and price of ABF carrier board rise sharply, and the shortage may continue until 2023


IC substrate is developed on the basis of HDI board (high-density interconnection circuit board), which has the characteristics of high density, high precision, miniaturization and thinness. As the intermediate material connecting the chip and the circuit board in the chip packaging process, the core function of ABF carrier board is to carry out higher density and high-speed interconnection communication with the chip, and then interconnect with large PCB board through more lines on the IC carrier board, which plays a connecting role, so as to protect the integrity of the circuit, reduce leakage, fix the line position It is conducive to better heat dissipation of the chip to protect the chip, and even embed passive and active devices to achieve certain system functions.


At present, in the field of high-end packaging, IC carrier has become an indispensable part of chip packaging. The data show that at present, the proportion of IC carrier in the overall packaging cost has reached about 40%.


Among IC carriers, there are mainly ABF (Ajinomoto build up film) carriers and BT carriers according to the different technical paths such as CLL resin system.


Among them, ABF carrier board is mainly used for high computing chips such as CPU, GPU, FPGA and ASIC. After these chips are produced, they usually need to be packaged on ABF carrier board before they can be assembled on larger PCB board. Once the ABF carrier is out of stock, major manufacturers including Intel and AMD cannot escape the fate that the chip cannot be shipped. The importance of ABF carrier can be seen.


Since the second half of last year, thanks to the growth of 5g, cloud AI computing, servers and other markets, the demand for high-performance computing (HPC) chips has increased greatly. Coupled with the growth of market demand for home office / entertainment, automobile and other markets, the demand for CPU, GPU and AI chips on the terminal side has increased greatly, which has also pushed up the demand for ABF carrier boards. Coupled with the impact of the fire accident in Ibiden Qingliu factory, a large IC carrier factory, and Xinxing Electronic Shanying factory, ABF carriers in the world are in serious short supply.


In February this year, there was news in the market that ABF carrier plates were in serious shortage, and the delivery cycle had been as long as 30 weeks. With the short supply of ABF carrier plate, the price also continued to rise. The data show that since the fourth quarter of last year, the price of IC carrier board has continued to rise, including BT carrier board up about 20%, while ABF carrier board up 30% – 50%.



As the ABF carrier capacity is mainly in the hands of a few manufacturers in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, their expansion of production was also relatively limited in the past, which also makes it difficult to alleviate the shortage of ABF carrier supply in the short term.


Therefore, many packaging and testing manufacturers began to suggest that end customers change the manufacturing process of some modules from BGA process requiring ABF carrier to line QFN process, so as to avoid the delay of shipment due to the inability to schedule the capacity of ABF carrier.


The carrier manufacturers said that at present, each carrier factory does not have much capacity space to contact any “queue jumping” orders with high unit price, and everything is dominated by customers who previously ensured capacity. Now some customers have even talked about capacity and 2023,


Previously, Goldman Sachs research report also showed that although the expanded ABF carrier capacity of IC carrier Nandian in Kunshan plant in mainland China is expected to start in the second quarter of this year, due to the extension of the delivery time of equipment required for production expansion to 8 ~ 12 months, the global ABF carrier capacity increased by only 10% ~ 15% this year, but the market demand continues to be strong, and the overall supply-demand gap is expected to be difficult to alleviate by 2022.


In the next two years, with the continuous growth of the demand for PCs, cloud servers and AI chips, the demand for ABF carriers will continue to increase. In addition, the construction of global 5g network will also consume a large number of ABF carriers.


In addition, with the slowdown of Moore’s law, chip manufacturers also began to make more and more use of advanced packaging technology to continue to promote the economic benefits of Moore’s law. For example, Chiplet technology, which is vigorously developed in the industry, requires larger ABF carrier size and low production yield. It is expected to further improve the demand for ABF carrier. According to the prediction of Tuopu Industry Research Institute, the average monthly demand of global ABF carrier plates will grow from 185 million to 345 million from 2019 to 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 16.9%.


Large plate loading factories have expanded their production one after another


In view of the continuous shortage of ABF carrier plates at present and the continuous growth of market demand in the future, four major IC carrier plate manufacturers in Taiwan, Xinxing, Nandian, jingshuo and Zhending KY, have launched production expansion plans this year, with a total capital expenditure of more than NT $65 billion (about RMB 15.046 billion) to be invested in factories in the mainland and Taiwan. In addition, Japan’s Ibiden and Shinko also finalized 180 billion yen and 90 billion yen carrier expansion projects respectively. South Korea’s Samsung electric and Dade electronics also further expanded their investment.


Among the four Taiwan funded IC carrier plants, the largest capital expenditure this year was Xinxing, the leading plant, which reached NT $36.221 billion (about RMB 8.884 billion), accounting for more than 50% of the total investment of the four plants, and a significant increase of 157% compared with NT $14.087 billion last year. Xinxing has raised its capital expenditure four times this year, highlighting the current situation that the market is in short supply. In addition, Xinxing has signed three-year long-term contracts with some customers to avoid the risk of market demand reversal.


Nandian plans to spend at least NT $8 billion (about RMB 1.852 billion) on capital this year, with an annual increase of more than 9%. At the same time, it will also carry out an NT $8 billion investment project in the next two years to expand the ABF board loading line of Taiwan Shulin plant. It is expected to open new board loading capacity from the end of 2022 to 2023.


Thanks to the strong support of the parent company Heshuo group, Jingshuo has actively expanded the production capacity of ABF carrier. This year’s capital expenditure, including land purchase and production expansion, is estimated to exceed NT $10 billion, including NT $4.485 billion in land purchase and buildings in Myrica rubra. Combined with the original investment in the purchase of equipment and process debottlenecking for the expansion of ABF carrier, the total capital expenditure is expected to increase by more than 244% compared with last year, It is also the second carrier plant in Taiwan whose capital expenditure has exceeded NT $10 billion.


Under the strategy of one-stop purchase in recent years, Zhending group has not only successfully made profits from the existing BT carrier business and continued to double its production capacity, but also internally finalized the five-year strategy of carrier layout and began to step into ABF carrier.


While Taiwan’s large-scale expansion of ABF carrier capacity, Japan and South Korea’s large carrier capacity expansion plans are also accelerating recently.


Ibiden, a large plate carrier in Japan, has finalized a plate carrier expansion plan of 180 billion yen (about 10.606 billion yuan), aiming to create an output value of more than 250 billion yen in 2022, equivalent to about US $2.13 billion. Shinko, another Japanese carrier manufacturer and an important supplier of Intel, has also finalized an expansion plan of 90 billion yen (about 5.303 billion yuan). It is expected that the carrier capacity will increase by 40% in 2022 and the revenue will reach about US $1.31 billion.


In addition, South Korea’s Samsung motor has increased the proportion of plate loading revenue to more than 70% last year and continued to invest. Dade electronics, another South Korean plate loading plant, has also transformed its HDI plant into ABF plate loading plant, with the goal of increasing relevant revenue by at least US $130 million in 2022.

Post time: Aug-26-2021