Based on Prismark data, the server/data storage field accounted for about 9.71% in 2021, and the automotive industry accounted for about 10%. It is estimated that the compound growth rate of server/automobile will be 10%/7.5% from 2021 to 2026, which becomes the fastest downstream growth in the PCB field.
According to the product structure, high-end products such as HDI boards, PCBs with more than 18 layers and IC substrates have the fastest growth rate. In 2027, the market size of IC packaging substrates, 18-layer boards and above will reach 22.286 billion USD and 2.133 billion USD, respectively, and the compound growth rates from 2022 to 2027 will be 5.1% and 4.4%, respectively.
ChatGPT drives server usage growth and platform upgrades
It is estimated that the server PCB market will reach nearly 16 billion USD in 2025, and the 2021-2025 CAGR will reach 20%.
With the growth of ChatGPT’s server usage and platform upgrades, the corresponding PCB boards, layers, and complex processes have all increased significantly. It is shown that the global server PCB market will reach 16 billion USD in 2025, and the CAGR will reach 20% from 2021 to 2025.
ChatGPT has brought about a sharp increase in the demand for computing power. Correspondingly, it has also brought corresponding servers/switches and other hardware as the core carrier and transmission of computing power, which has brought about a substantial increase in PCB demand. Meanwhile, the requirements for computing power are increasing, and the demand for large-capacity, high-speed, and high-performance cloud computing servers continue to grow as well.
Automotive electrification and intelligence promote PCB increment
Thanks to electrification + intelligence, it is estimated that the demand for automotive PCBs will reach 123.3 billion yuan in 2025, and the CAGR will reach 24% in 2020-25.
The increase in PCB electrification demand mainly comes from the increase in the electronic control system. The increase in PCB intelligence largely comes from the increase brought about by smart driving and smart cockpit. And with the iteration of intelligent technology, the value of PCB increment brought by intelligence will increase by 5% every year.
What are the current challenges on the automotive board?
- Technical barriers: require more high-end products
At present, although multilayer boards are still the mainstream for automotive PCBs, their overall share has dropped from 51% in 2018 to 45% in 2020. While high-end HDI, RF boards, and flexible/rigid-flex boards account for a total of From 24.3% in 2018 to 33.5% in 2020.
Products such as millimeter-wave radar in new energy vehicles need to use a large number of high-frequency PCBs, while power batteries, cameras, smart cockpit, ECU, and ADAS system need to use a large number of FPCs. It is expected that the proportion of high-end PCB products will continue to increase.
- Customer barriers: higher requirements certification and for PCB manufacturers
High reliability results in a high entry threshold for automotive PCBs. Automobiles have high requirements for reliability, so they also have extremely high requirements for the stability and reliability of automotive PCBs.
Besides, automotive PCBs need to be more adaptable to extreme working environments than ordinary PCBs, and have longer life expectancy requirements for PCBs.
Generally speaking, if you want to become a supplier of automotive PCBs, the certification cycle needs to be 2-3 years. After the supplier is determined, in order to maintain stable quality, manufacturers seldom change new suppliers.
The PCBs of new energy vehicles are mostly safety components, which have higher requirements on suppliers. The electronic control system and assisted driving system of new energy vehicles are more related to driving safety, and have higher requirements for the stability and safety of vehicle PCBs.
Therefore, new suppliers will conduct more tests for safety considerations, and the certification time will be longer, which brings higher barriers to entry.
What are the current challenges on the IC substrates?
- Challengable IC substrate technology and high entry threshold
IC substrates has the characteristics of high density, high pin count, high performance, miniaturization and thinness, and its technical parameters are much higher than HDI and ordinary PCB.
The line width/spacing parameters of the IC substrate are required to be 10-30 μm, while the line width/spacing of ordinary PCBs is above 100 μm. Its technical difficulty is reflected in:
(1)The core board is thin and easy to deform.
(2)Microporous technology has higher requirements on the shape of the hole, the ratio of upper and lower apertures, side erosion, glass fiber protrusion, and residual glue at the bottom of the hole.
(3) Precise interlayer alignment technology, more detailed line imaging technology and copper plating technology, and product inspection technology different from traditional PCB.
- IC substrates develop toward thinner lines, smaller apertures, and thinner thickness
The proportion of BGA is expected to continue to increase. Packaging technology is developing towards light, thin, short, and small directions such as high IO count and small pin spacing. BGA is in line with the development trend of semiconductor packaging, and FC-BGA has great growth potential.
5G communication, AI, cloud network, and automated robots will drive the growth of FC-BGA; while smartphones, wearable devices, AI (GPU/CPU), storage, etc. will drive the growth of FC-CSP.