Taiwan GaAs foundries expanding capacity on robust VCSEL demand

VCSEL (vertical cavity surface emitting laser) has emerged as a crucial light source component for 3D sensors increasingly applied to smartphones and other consumer electronics devices, providing great growth momentum to Taiwan-based Win Semiconductors and Advanced Wireless Semiconductor (AWSC), dedicated to fabricating GaAs and InGaAs – main materials for VCSEL – and driving them to continue expanding their 6-inch wafer foundry capacities, according to industry sources.

The sources said VCSEL is now a new focus of business deployments by global chipmakers, GaAs wafer foundry houses, epitaxy wafer and chip suppliers, as well as LED makers, as they believe 3D sensors will eventually be overwhelmingly applied to smartphones of Apple and non-Apple camps while also being adopted in the optical communications and automotive electronics devices.

Win Semiconductors, now the world’s largest 6-inch GaAs wafer foundry house, will see its monthly capacity rise by 6,000-8,000 to 37,000 wafers by the end of 2018. The company has indirectly tapped into the supply chain of iPhone X, as it handles the production of VCSEL component for US-based Lumentum, which is believed to be one of the primary suppliers of Apple’s 3D face recognition systems, the sources said.
AWSC, currently maintaining a monthly capacity of 10,000-12,000 pieces at its 6-inch wafer fabs, will not rule out further capacity expansion soon to support aggressive deployments by Austria-based sensor maker AMS in the Android-based smartphone camp. The company has a chance of enjoying a drastic revenue upsurge in 2018.

Industry sources said that both Win Semiconductor and AWSC will see better revenue numbers for the second quarter of 2018 than the first quarter. Win Semiconductors posted consolidated revenues of NT$1.492 billion (US$50.07 million) for April, soaring 3.42% sequentially and 19.21% on year, while AWSC saw its April revenues rise 6.91% on month and 27.09% on year to NT$201 million.