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What is the difference between PCB and substrate??


New member
So, I was reading this article about how the global PCB industry is concentrated in Asia, esp. China and Taiwan.
It seems that the current chip supply chain issue is dependent on PCB as well, so the question rises: what exactly is the difference between a PCB and a substrate?
Or are they kinda the same?


Active member
Substrate is a component of a PCB.

Your question is a little like saying "What is the difference between a house and the frame of a house?" or perhaps more aptly "What is the difference between the house and the land that sits under the house?"


Active member
Normally a PCB (used for assembly of multiple components of all types) has one or more cores (FR4 material or similar), is built up using these and prepreg/copper layers (also FR4), and has drilled and plated through-hole vias to connect layers together. A substrate (used for assembly of one or more chips, plus some passive components) is much smaller and often thinner, usually has a single core, and layers are built up on this using polymer material with laser-drilled vias at each stage to form blind and buried connections. The manufacturing techniques and equipment needed to make them are different.

Typically packages have substrates inside them, and then these packages are mounted on a PCB. The substrates cost more per cm2 but can provide much smaller lines/spaces/vias, suitable for connections to a silicon die. PCBs are bigger and cheaper per cm2, suitable for connections to packages and components.