Over the past few years, Wafer Level Chip Size Packages (WLCSPs) have gained widespread adoption, due to their ability to deliver higher performance at lower or equivalent costs when compared to competing packages. WLCSPs have been an excellent fit for the handheld/portable industry, where the strong push for cost-reduction and miniaturization, coupled with relatively relaxed reliability requirements, have motivated true chip-sized packages requiring no underfill or overmold. Reliability performance initially limited the application of WLCSPs to small die sizes (<2.5mm), low pin counts (<25) and mature silicon technology nodes. Also, to date, a majority of WLCSPs have been built at a 0.5mm bump pitch, although there is increasing growth in the use of WLCSPs at 0.4mm pitch. These factors have allowed WLCSP packaging to flourish in the mixed signal and analog market space. With the maturity in this market segment, the WLCSP is beginning to transition from an advanced package to a commodity package and is subject to the price-pressure that accompanies this transition.

More recently, the semiconductor industry has seen advances in WLCSP technology which have enabled the qualification envelope to be expanded to products with pin counts > 120. These advances have facilitated the use of WLCSPs for other component types such as RF, high speed, broadband and memory, many of which require advanced silicon technology nodes as well. Consequently, WLCSP is expanding to markets and applications previously supported by QFN and flip chip CSP. This expansion puts additional price and cycle time pressure on WLCSP manufacturing. The cycle time pressure is further enhanced by the changing business models and supply chain strategies adopted by companies in the new economic environment. To meet these growing market demands, WLCSP providers are faced with the challenges of providing faster cycle times and higher capacity without significant increases in capital expenditure.

The above factors have driven the need for new WLCSP technologies that utilize fewer process steps compared to common WLCSP product offerings, while maintaining the robustness necessary for meeting quality and reliability requirements. Amkor is developing multiple WLCSP technology platforms to cater to the cost and performance requirements of the diverse application space.

This paper will provide examples that significantly reduce overall package cost by removing photolithography layers. Each photomask layer removed saves in material costs, capital depreciation costs, overhead, and process cycle time. Materials, package size, and internal qualification vehicles are carefully chosen as part of Amkor's product introduction for the proposed process flows. This paper will examine material options, i.e., polymers and solder alloys, for these new structures and will also examine the effects of die sizes and I/O counts on product reliability. Detailed analyses of the failure modes produced during reliability testing will be coupled with mechanical simulations to enhance understanding of the failure mechanisms and to further strategies for improving product reliability.

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