Semiconductor board companies in South Korea have started spending on flip-chip ball grid arrays (FC-BGA) in earnest due to high demand.
But sources in the industry told TheElec that despite this, it is very unlikely that these companies will be able to narrow the gap with leading companies in Japan, Taiwan and Austria.
Japan’s Ibiden and Shinko Denki are overwhelmingly dominant in FC-BGA, which are chip boards used for high-value chips for PC and server applications.
Since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic spread and increased the demand for computing chips and related components such as chip boards, South Korean companies Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Daeduck Electronics and Korea Circuit each announced spending plans of 1 trillion won, 400 billion won and 200 billion, respectively, in FC-BGA. LG Innotek is also expected to spend 1 trillion won in the sector.
Combined, the spending amount totals around 3 trillion won.
But this is dwarfed by spending plans of companies such as Ibiden, Shinko Denki, Unimicron, Nanya and AT&S, which individually spend trillions of wons, a person familiar with the matter said.
The FC-BGA spending plans announced by Samsung Electro-Mechanics and others also came late compared to their rivals overseas, so they will benefit less from the current shortage in FC-BGA, they said.
Another person familiar with the matter said Daeduck Electronics and Korea Circuit’s spending plans indicate that they will like aim to supply for niche markets.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also caused FC-BGA companies themselves to face delays in procuring components and raw materials needed, so existing FC-BGA companies such as Ibiden and Shinko Denki will benefit the most, they added.
Another person familiar with the matter said South Korean companies should have started spending hastily around late-2020 and early-2021 when Intel was aggressively expanding its chip package board supply chain.
The person said Intel believes Samsung Electro-Mechanics’ FC-BGA spending plan to be “too small.”
Austria’s AT&S, meanwhile, had said in October last year that it plans to become one of the top three companies in FC-BGA by 2025. The company is getting support from Intel in technology and staff.
However, another person familiar with the matter said South Korean companies such as Samsung Electro-Mechanics is finding difficulty in recruiting needed engineers, so the conservative spending plan was understandable.
For instance, Samsung Electro-Mechanics will need around 400 engineers to run its FC-BGA project in Vietnam, there is a shortage of talent, they said.
LG Innotek will also need to secure customers first before it can expand its FC-BGA business, they added.