Advanced packaging, especially at the wafer level, is becoming increasingly important for MEMS and 3D stacking applications. FlipChip International (FCI), based in Phoenix, Arizona, is one of the service providers in this segment. FCI is an interesting company because they compete with larger players such as ASE and Amkor. Plus, a big part of their operations is in China. We recently spoke with David Wilkie, FCI’s President and CEO, about his company’s current activities and challenges, recent marketplace dynamics, business threats and opportunities, and competitive landscape. David also discusses 2.5 and 3D packaging approaches based on through silicon via (TSV) and through glass via (TGV) substrate technologies.
MEMS Journal: How big is your company now in terms of annual revenues and number of employees? What are your main locations? What is your main focus?
David Wilkie: FCI doesn't disclose detailed revenue information, but we are in the $100 million per year ballpark. We have two manufacturing locations, one in Phoenix, Arizona and one in the Pudong region of Shanghai, China. We currently have a total of 800 employees, around 200 in Phoenix and the rest in Shanghai. We also have sales offices in Europe (UK and Germany), Taiwan, and Japan, in addition to the Phoenix and Shanghai sales teams. Our main focus is advanced packaging, with wafer level packaging with bump on I/O, redistribution, and Cu pillar being the primary technologies. In addition we offer traditional plastic IC packaging and test (wafer and IC form), wafer and die services (backgrind, laser mark, die tape and reel) and advanced system-in-package processes with our Chipset technology.
MEMS Journal: What's your long term vision for FCI? How do you see the company in five years?
David Wilkie: In 5 years, we expect to remain the technology leader in advanced wafer level packaging, with more advanced processes and finer pitches in production. We will have increased our market share for bumping in Asia, and we will have increased our revenues from Chipset and other system-in-package technologies. We will have another manufacturing facility as we will have outgrown our current two.
MEMS Journal: What are some of the key industry initiatives or groups that FCI is a part of?
David Wilkie: We actively participate in the IMAPS Device Packaging Conference and the SMTA’s International Wafer Level Chip Scale Packaging Conference. We also actively publish articles about wafer level packaging, MEMS packaging and embedded die technologies.
MEMS Journal: What are your plans for 2015? What are the major milestones on the agenda?
David Wilkie: Our main plans for 2015 are to add our copper pillar technology into Shanghai. This technology deployment will enable FCI to participate more fully in the industry’s adoption of Cu pillar bumping for flip chip interconnection, particularly aimed at supporting the Asian market as well as FCI- Shanghai’s own emerging Flip Chip on Lead and high density module requirements.
MEMS Journal: What's the main threat to FCI's current business?
David Wilkie: There are two main threats: larger competitors like ASE, Amkor, and others that have more money and can make major investments more easily than we can, as well as lower cost manufacturing in Asia where FCI currently has limited offering.
MEMS Journal: What are the main things which make FCI unique? In other words, what can FCI do that others cannot?
David Wilkie: We can run more technologies than any other manufacturer, and we can run both low and high volume products in the same line at the same time. We can put bumps on pretty much any substrate, including challenging ones like GaAs, Li-based substrate technologies, and non-crystalline materials. We can run smaller wafer sizes, and we're adept at bumping multi-product wafers, allowing customers to get bumped versions of many different die on the same wafer. Our engineering expertise makes us the go-to place for challenging applications. We were in production with 0.3mm pitch WLCSP years before anyone else.
MEMS Journal: Which industry events did you personally attend in the past year? Which one was your favorite and why?
David Wilkie: My favorite was the ECTC conference in Orlando, Florida. It's a technology based conference, and it was great to meet some of the top engineers in the field and meet with other companies and organizations that are pushing packaging technologies into more challenging and difficult areas. FCI also participated in other conferences including the IMAPS Device Packaging Conference held in Phoenix in March 2014 including presenting papers on Cu Pillar bumping. The programs for both of these conferences are focused on wafer level packaging and 2.5D and 3D packaging technologies.
MEMS Journal: What types of companies are your best customers?
David Wilkie: We work best with small and medium sized semiconductor companies. We work with their engineers, procurement, operations, and quality teams to solve their challenging packaging issues. Since we can provide so many technologies (wafer bumping and traditional IC assembly) we can be a service-oriented one-stop shop for most customers.
MEMS Journal: What are some of the most interesting MEMS projects that you've done recently?
David Wilkie: We have done some very interesting and innovative work in the area of accelerometer packaging, low profile MEMS packaging and leading edge, high resolution image sensors. We have also been focusing some of our efforts in embedded die packaging to enable novel image sensing and light sensing applications.
MEMS Journal: What's new with WLP technologies? What are some of the most interesting developments in the past year?
David Wilkie: The move to advanced Cu Pillar packaging, where the bump densities are increasing, has been a trend in the past year. The OEMs, particularly in the smartphone space, are driving overall package thicknesses down to sub-300 micron thickness ranges which is putting a lot of pressure on wafer thinning technologies, wafer bow minimization and reliability.
Also, while 2.5 and 3D packaging approaches based on through silicon vias and through glass via substrate technologies are being widely promoted in publications, there are several issues to be overcome including the costs associated with silicon interposers and the complexity and infrastructure available to support high volume applications.
MEMS Journal: What are some of the main challenges with WLP right now? What needs to be solved and why?
David Wilkie: Some of the main challenges in WLP today include thin wafer processing, handling of thin wafers using either temporary carrier technologies with minimal cost or the Taiko grinding process. The infrastructure available to support high volume image sensor and MEMS packaging is limited and a number of these types of applications require application specific packaging schemes that are not readily ported over to other packaging applications.
This article is a part of MEMS Journal's ongoing market research project in the area of MEMS fabrication and manufacturing technologies. If you would like to receive our comprehensive market research report on this topic, please contact Dr. Mike Pinelis at email@example.com for more information about rates and report contents.
Copyright 2014 MEMS Journal, Inc.