CHANDLER, Ariz., Jan. 22 -- Citing accelerating demand for advanced semiconductor package solutions for cell phone and other handheld applications, Amkor Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMKR) today announced that it is aggressively expanding capacity for stacked chip-scale packages (S- CSP). Stacked packages are semiconductor packages that contain two or more individual chips placed on top of another. Already among the largest producers of stacked packages, with nearly 50 million S-CSP packages shipped last year, Amkor expects production capacity to approach 50 million per quarter (depending on die-stack configuration) by the middle of 2004.
Amkor's factories in Korea and Japan already produce stacked packages. The company will install S-CSP capacity in its factories in Taiwan and China early in 2004.
Amkor is particularly strong in stacked packages containing three or more active chips. These packages were more than 20% of Amkor's total S-CSP production in the fourth quarter of 2003, which is the largest proportion in the outsourced chip packaging industry. During 2003 Amkor's production of 3+ S-CSP rose to nearly four million in the fourth quarter from approximately 20,000 in the first quarter.
"This dramatic increase in demand for our advanced stacked packages reflects Amkor's leadership in die stacking technology, which has been a key enabler for cell phones, PDAs and other digital consumer products," commented Barry Miles, Amkor's vice president of CSP products. "We've been shipping S- CSPs with three active chips in high volume throughout 2003. This focus on advanced stacking has allowed Amkor to create significantly higher value stacked package solutions for our customers."
"The average revenue of Amkor's stacked package is considerably more than that of our nearest competitor because of our leadership positions in three die and logic + memory stacking," said Miles. "Stacking three or more active die requires advanced wafer thinning, wire bonding and die attach technologies as well as multiple passes through both the die- and wire bonders. In many cases we are the only outsourced supplier qualified for critical advanced three-die-stack CSP solutions," said Miles. "For example, Amkor is currently supporting several top-tier IC manufacturers with 3+ stacked packages combining ASIC or DSP logic plus memory for a variety of cell phone baseband and PDA applications."
Success rooted in process technology
Amkor attributes its success with advanced die stacking to its process expertise in wafer thinning (including the ability to thin 200-mm and 300-mm wafers to 75 100 microns, with plans to reduce final die thickness to 50-60 microns in 2004); advancement of wire bonding (including standoff stitch and ultra low loop methods); and development of film-based die-attach and spacer technologies.
Most of Amkor 3+ die stacking solutions use its film die-attach and spacer technologies. These processes eliminate conventional resin bleed when stacking same size chips and provide a uniform bond-line thickness that is void free with 100 percent edge coverage and also acts as a stress absorber between chips. According to Miles, "Amkor has demonstrated a 75 micron clearance between bond pads on a lower chip and the upper chip edge."
"While two-die stacking has been available for several years, our advanced two-die stacking process addresses end-product challenges which demand thinner two-die combinations in packages that are 1 mm or less in total height," said Vladimir Perelman, Amkor's Sr. Director of high density CSP. "This represents significant production acceleration in two-die stacking that we saw in 2003. The process complexity of an advanced two-die stack with leading-edge thinning capability can be as challenging as stacking three chips."
Expanding capacity in 2004
"During 2003 a key growth area in our 3+ die stacking was supporting logic plus memory. We expect this growth to accelerate in 2004 because several other customers who qualified logic plus memory products in late 2003 are now set to ramp production," Perelman continued.
The trend in advanced die stacking is 'up' with more chips and 'down' with thinner chips in a thinner package. Recognizing the ongoing need for higher levels of functionality and memory density, Amkor has established production capability to stack four active chips (i.e., a seven-level stack of four active chips plus three film or silicon spacers). Amkor has completed qualification builds for several customers.
In the end markets, roughly 90 percent of stacked packages are going into cell phones and the other 10 percent into video and still cameras, PDAs and other consumer products. This trend will be driven further as cell phone technology adopts more 2.5G and 3G technology in 2004 and beyond.
Amkor plans to keep its advanced S-CSP capacity ahead of industry demand. "Many leading-edge packaging applications for consumer products are going vertical, and our technology capability is pulling in business for advanced applications of S-CSP," said Miles.
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including Amkor's intention to increase capacity of stacked packages, reduce final die thickness and the expectations of market growth. These forward-looking statements represent expectations and beliefs that are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially. These risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, the following: the highly unpredictable nature of the semiconductor industry; volatility of consumer demand for products incorporating stacked packages, including those combining logic plus memory chips. Further information on risk factors that could affect the outcome of the events set forth in these statements and that could affect our operating results and financial condition is detailed in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2002 and our Report on Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended September, 2003.
Amkor Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMKR - News) is a leading provider of contract semiconductor assembly and test services. The company offers semiconductor companies and electronics OEMs a complete set of microelectronic design and manufacturing services. More information on Amkor is available from the company's SEC filings and on Amkor's web site: www.amkor.com.
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