ABF substrate supply to remain constrained in 2022

Jay Liu, Taipei; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES Asia 0


Due to spec upgrades of new processors and growing difficulty in producing high-end ABF substrates with satisfactory yield rates, the world's actual ABF substrate supply growth could still be limited in 2022 despite commercialization of new capacities, according to industry sources.

Many IC substrate makers, including Taiwan's Unimicron Technology, Nan Ya PCB and Kinsus Interconnect Technology, Japan-based Ibiden and Shinko, and Austria's AT&S, are all set to have the majority of their new ABF substrate capacities come online in 2022, but the overall supply may remain tight, the sources said.

To match spec upgrades for new processors, high-end ABF substrates will entail higher layer counts and longer stacking process time than before, which, coupled with the related yield rate issue, could affect the expansion in actual output volume of ABF substrates, the sources reasoned.

But the sources noted that it is hard to get a clear picture of the overall ABF substrate supply in 2022 simply by measuring the area shipments or chips output, as many of the new capacities for next year were booked earlier by clients.

Starting 2022, there will be ever-increasing ratios of new ABF substrate capacity booked by clients as part of their long-term cooperation deals with suppliers, and other clients would have little chance to win short-term capacity support by offering higher prices, the sources said. As a result, the supply/demand imbalance for ABF substrates may persist in the short term, but their shipment schedules and price movements will proceed in an increasingly orderly way, the sources added.

ABF substrate makers are bound to keep developing ever-advanced products to support new chip products by clients, and they have to further sharpen their technological capability to stay competitive and sustain growth momentum in the ongoing uptrend development for the ABF substrate segment, the sources said.

The sources continued that the shortage of lower-end ABF substrates with fewer layers will not last too long, with a balance in supply and demand to resume sooner or later.