Tuesday, October 24, 2017
While Apple has started to release more orders to AMD for high-end GPUs needed for new iMac series since September 2017, Taiwan-based outsourced semiconductor assembly and test (OSAT) companies has stepped up 2.5D packaging for the GPUs, according to supply chain sources.
The new iMac series adopt GPUs supplied by AMD, with the super workstation-class 27-inch iMac Pro equipped with Radeon Pro Vega 56 GPU and 8GB HBM2 memory or Radeon Pro Vega 64 and 16GB HBM2 memory. The high-end GPUs are packaged using 2.5D technology while the general-spec GPUs use flip-chip packaging process. Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL) handle the packaging for the iMac GPUs, with testing support from King Yuan Electronics, the sources said.
These Taiwan OSAT firms will be busy carrying out 2.5D and flip-chip packaging operations through the end of 2017 in line with the rollout of Apple's new iMac series, the sources said.
AMD's Vega series GPUs are fabricated by GlobalFoundries on 14nm process, but Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has won the order from AMD to fabricate its NAVI GPUs using 7nm process technology. As TSMC is also keen on making deployments in advanced packaging technologies, it will continue to maintain coopetition relationships with local OSATs.
At the moment, ASE and SPIL are major players in the 2.5D IC packaging market, able to compete against TSMC's CoWoS (chip on wafer on substrate) 2.5D packaging technology, industry sources said.
TSMC will apply its CoWoS 2.5D packaging technology mainly to high-end GPUs or FPGAs needed for AI (artificial intelligence)-based supercomputer systems.
Both Nvidia and AMD hope to use GPUs as the computing cores of AI systems, including high-end graphic cards, vehicle-use platforms, and cloud computing. And accordingly, both 2.5D and 3D packaging technologies that can integrate high-end GPU chips and high bandwidth memory chips will become more popular with semiconductor customers, the sources said.
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