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Copper clad laminate (CCL) is the core raw material of downstream PCB, accounting for more than 40% of the material cost, and the cost proportion is higher in high-end PCB. The development trend of copper clad laminate terminal applications is obvious. And the high-end market is growing rapidly with higher added value.

Statistics from Prismark show that global sales of rigid copper-clad laminates reached 18.807 USD billion in 2021, an increase of 45.84% over 2020’s sales of 12.896 billion USD. Among them, the total sales of halogen-free copper-clad laminates and rigid copper-clad laminates, which have stability and environmental protection advantages and are mainly used in high-frequency, high-speed and mobile equipment fields, increased from 3.094 billion USD in 2020 to 4.453 billion USD, an increase of 43.92%.

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High frequency end products bring great growth opportunities for high-speed CCL market

In 2021, the total sales of the three major types of special rigid copper clad laminate reached 4.652 billion USD, with sales increasing by 18.4% year-on-year and 2.9 percentage points higher than in 2020. Among them, the sales of IC substrates were 1.205 billion USD, an increase of 15.4% over 2021; the sales of high-frequency copper clad laminates increased by 9.8% year-on-year.

The sales of high-speed halogen-free copper clad laminates have increased significantly, with a year-on-year increase of 42.2%, and the sales volume of high-speed halogen-free CCL has increased significantly since 2020, and the sales growth rate in 2021 was 12.0%. It shows that the market demand for high-end high-speed halogen-free CCL continue to increase in follow years. The market size of high-speed copper-clad laminates is more than twice that of IC substrates, and more than five times that of high-frequency copper-clad laminates.

Taking the field of high-speed copper clad laminate as the main example, the main application field of high-speed CCL is data processing center. According to Cisco data, global data center IP traffic reached 20.6ZB in 2021, and the compound growth rate from 2016 to 2021 reached 25%. The three main devices in the data center are servers, networks (switches, routers), and storage. A large number of high-speed PCBs, namely high-speed CCLs, are used. As the largest part of the capital expenditure of the data center, the server is the most representative.

High frequency end products bring great growth opportunities for high-speed CCL market

From the perspective of related industry chains, higher server technical standards have higher requirements for CCL and PCB.

PCB and its key raw material, copper-clad laminate, are the key substrates for carrying various wiring in the server, and the corresponding performance needs to be improved to adapt to server upgrades.
Specifically: 1) The number of PCB board layers increases from less than 10 layers to more than 16 layers. The higher the number of layers, the greater the technical difficulty.
2)The transmission rate of PCB boards increases, and the transmission rate doubles every time the server platform is upgraded.
3)It can work at high frequency and high speed, and the PCB board is required to be made of low loss or ultra low loss grade copper clad laminate material.
4)Low dielectric constant (Dk) and low dielectric loss factor (Df), the typical Df value is required to be reduced to 0.002-0.004, the Dk value dropped to 3.3-3.6.

The iteration of the server has two important impacts on the demand for technology upgrades and the growth of total demand for copper clad laminates. From the perspective of CCL technology upgrade, comparing the latest Intel Eagle Stream platform with the previous generation platform, it can be clearly seen that the CCL upgrade for server platforms is in a critical transition period from one step to another.

From the perspective of demand for high-end CCL, it can be seen that server iteration means that the number of board layers required for processing has increased significantly, and the demand for high-speed CCL in high-performance servers has expanded.

Terminal applications are thinner, lighter and smaller, which strengthen the growth momentum of HDI

Terminal applications are thinner, lighter and smaller, which strengthen the growth momentum of HDI

In 2018, the global HDI output value reached USD 9.222 billion, of which consumer electronics mobile phone terminals accounted for the highest proportion, about 66%, followed by the computer and PC industry, accounting for about 14%, and the combined proportion of the two was about 80%. The electronics industry has become the largest application market for HDI.

Increasing factors such as increasing miniaturization of electronic devices, rapid inclination of consumers towards smart devices, significant growth of consumer electronics, and adoption of safety measures in automobiles are driving the gradual growth of this market.

As the communication standard is upgraded to 5G, the usage of radio frequency chips, passive components and BTB connectors will all increase. Many low-end mobile phone manufacturers with a large number of users will increase the motherboard area and use double-layer boards. Structure or higher-order HDI substrates and other methods to adapt to technology iterations will also significantly increase the demand for HDI.

The prospect of SLP is gradually promising, and the supply of IC substrates is in short supply

The prospect of SLP is gradually promising, and the supply of IC substrates is in short supply

As a high-end packaging field that replaces traditional lead frames, IC substrates are, to a certain extent, the highest level representative of copper-clad laminates under the current high-density interconnection trend due to their high density, high precision, high pin count, high performance, miniaturization and thinning. It is also one of the representatives of the highest technical level in the entire copper clad laminate field.

From the perspective of market size, the IC packaging substrate industry has grown by 19% in 2021, and the market size has reached 12.2 billion USD. The compound growth rate from 2020 to 2025 will be 9.7%. Fast PCB subdivision board. The IC packaging substrate industry becomes the fastest growing PCB segment.

Based on the cost of packaging materials, according to the research of the China Semiconductor Association Packaging Branch, the low-end wire-bonded substrates account for about 40% to 50% of the total packaging cost, while the high-end flip-chip substrates The cost of the board can be as high as 70%~80%. The IC substrate has become the most valuable material in the packaging process.

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