Power SiC ecosystem is reshaped by vertical integration

Infineon Technologies, onsemi, ROHM, STMicroelectronics, Wolfspeed… The clash of the Titans


    Lyon, France, March 25th 2022 – The market research and strategy consulting company Yole Développement (Yole) and the reverse engineering & costing company System Plus Consulting have analyzed the compound semiconductor industry in-depth for some years now. Based on a dedicated methodology and high-added value expertise, both partners deliver their vision through a wide collection of products, including technology & market reports, reverse engineering & costing analyses, and a dedicated Compound Semiconductor Quarterly Market Monitor.

    Discover today the webcast powered by Yole and System Plus Consulting on April 28, at 5 pm CET. This webcast welcomes presentations from Infineon Technologies, System Plus Consulting and Yole. More info.

    In this dynamic context, Yole and System Plus Consulting offer today a special focus on SiC for power electronics applications with their annual report, Power SiC 2022, and a SiC Transistor Comparison 2021.
    The SiC device market will reach US$6.3 billion in 2027, announces Yole’s Compound Semiconductor team. With the trend towards EVs in the past years, a longer range is one of the main demands of customers. However, this, in turn, creates a need for fast DC charging to decrease the waiting time at charging stations. The 800V EV is the solution to meet the demand, and it started to penetrate the market in 2021.

    Poshun Chiu, Technology & Market Analyst, Compound Semiconductors & Emerging Materials at Yole, comments. “SiC is considered the enabler to provide good efficiency, and a supply of 1200V devices is feasible. With more 800V EVs coming, SiC is expected to grow quickly. Meanwhile, charging infrastructure and photovoltaics are two markets supporting the EV trend. More chargers are needed to support the increasing volume of EVs, and renewable energy shares the same objective of zero CO2 emission with EVs. These are the markets for SiC to gain more momentum.”

    SiC market players are working hard to generate more revenue in this multi-billion-dollar business

    Companies including STMicroelectronics, Wolfspeed, onsemi, and Infineon Technologies, for example, announced their “billion-dollar revenue” objectives. Despite the different paths chosen by each player, the similarity of business model among them can be clearly identified.
    The IDM - integrated device manufacturer - business model is the one chosen by leading players to supply devices, especially power modules. This business model represents a higher dollar value to grow the revenue.
    STMicroelectronics is the leading SiC company, as their modules have been used in the Tesla Model 3 for some years. Their activities are not only at the device level; and indeed, STMicroelectronics demonstrated their in-house 8” SiC wafer in 2021.
    Another leading SiC company, onsemi, took a significant step in 2021 by acquiring GT Advanced Technologies, a SiC boule supplier. Today, onsemi is working on the expansion of its SiC wafer capacity. Its goal is to support its rapidly growing SiC business.
    Speaking of the leading company in global power electronics, Infineon Technologies delivered an impressive 126% growth of their SiC device business in 2021, outperforming the 57% average growth rate. The design-win of the 800V Hyundai Ioniq5 developed by Infineon Technologies pushed them into the fast lane with their solid base of industrial applications.

    Dr. Peter Friedrichs, Vice President Silicon Carbide at Infineon Technologies AG, states: “The efficiency advantage enabled by silicon carbide perfectly matches worldwide efforts to save on electrical energy. The adoption rates will increase, not just in emerging and new applications like solar power conversion or EV charging, but also in traditional power semiconductor applications. We don't need to promote the benefits of the technology anymore; these are really well known in the industry – which is now turning to the question of smart implementation leading to a long-term cost-performance advantage.

    Wolfspeed also showed its determination to focus its activities on the SiC business. The company decided on a significant re-organization a few years ago by selling its LED business and expanding its power device business. With its SiC wafer leadership, Wolfspeed has now qualified its 8” fab. The company is moving forward and has raised its growth.
    Meanwhile, ROHM is expanding capacity in both devices and wafers following its acquisition of SiCrystal a decade ago to integrate vertically. And II-VI shared their long-term view by demonstrating an automotive-qualified 1200V device and an extended partnership with General Electric.
    The SiC ecosystem has been reshaped by these major players in the past years. According to Yole, two main trends impact its supply chain: vertical integration of wafer manufacturing and module packaging to gain more revenues in the coming years. In this context, end-system companies, for example, automotive OEMs, are adopting SiC quicker and more flexibly to manage the supply with multiple wafer suppliers in the market…

    A SiC world pushed by innovations

    From the technology development perspective, innovative approaches to SiC wafer are proposed. As of 2022, SiC wafer still accounts for a major part of the cost of a SiC device.
    According to Amine Allouche, Technology & Cost Analyst at System Plus Consulting, in the SiC Transistor Comparison 2021 report:
    “SiC raw wafer cost represents more than 60% of the epi-wafer cost for 1200V SiC MOSFETs. Even though SiC wafer capacity has been expanding, there is still a strong motivation for innovation in quality, throughput, and cost”.

    8” SiC wafers are considered as the critical step to scaling up production. The objective is clearly to increase yield and gain advantages in the next round of competition. Major IDMs are developing their own manufacturing capability of 8” SiC wafers; already, some wafer suppliers are shipping samples as of 2022.
    In Yole’s power SiC forecast, 6” will still be the leading platform in the coming five years. However, initial volumes of 8” are starting in 2022, and it will be taken as a strategic resource by market players.
    To optimize the wafering process and thus produce more wafers from one single SiC boule is another approach. Solution suppliers, such as DISCO, have developed the laser cutting system to increase the throughput. And Infineon Technologies has qualified their Cold Split technology.
    Thinking ‘out of the box’, a few companies have proposed very different ways of manufacturing SiC wafers. Soitec applied their SmartCut™ technology to produce SiC wafer with a thin layer with a lower defect rate and a handle wafer with lower resistivity. A Japanese company, Sumitomo Metal Mining, planned to ramp up its engineered SiC wafer in the coming years. And KISAB, a Swedish start-up, provides wafer-based approaches to offer high-quality SiC wafers. These innovations might accelerate the global development of SiC in the years to come… Further information on i-Micronews.

    With a multi-billion-dollar prospect in the coming five years in a strong market mainly pulled by EV applications, SiC is expected to enter more and more applications. To make it happen, ecosystem evolution and innovations are the most critical factors to watch. IDM is the main business model in SiC. In addition, major SiC players are moving all along the supply chain toward the module level. The strategy is to create value. In parallel, innovation never stops. Therefore, new entrants are bringing new approaches to improve scaling, throughput, quality, or cost.
    Yole’s analysts are convinced, SiC is a rapidly growing market.

    This press announcement is fully dedicated to the Power SiC 2022 and the SiC Transistor Comparison 2021 reports.
    Related products: Status of the Power Electronics Industry 2021 Power Electronics for E-Mobility 2021Status of the Power Module Packaging Industry 2021 DC Charging for Plug-In Electric Vehicles 2021 IGBT Market And Technology Trends 2021 Silicon MOSFET Market And Technology Trends 2021 - Compound Semiconductor Quarterly Market Monitor

    Formerly CREE
    SiC: Silicon Carbide
    EV: Electric Vehicle
    DC: Direct Current
    IDM; Integrated Design Manufacturer