Most industry analysts agree that silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) will capture about 30% of the global power semiconductor market by 2027. Industry research firm Yole Intelligence forecasts that the global SiC market alone will grow to nearly $9 billion by 2028 while the global GaN market will reach $2.04 billion, representing 6% of the power electronics market by 2028. The extraordinary growth of SiC and GaN power devices could reshape the global manufacturing fab asset landscape as we know it.
Supported by public funding from regional CHIPS Acts, global chip makers are heavily investing in greenfield fab projects, acquiring brownfield fabs for conversion, or striking alliances with partners to keep up with the global compound semiconductor race. Since building the world’s first 200mm SiC fab in Mohawk Valley, NY, Wolfspeed has set its sights on Germany to build its European equivalent with local partner ZF. In 2023, German company Bosch acquired TSI Semiconductors’ operational 200mm fab in Roseville, CA, planning a further $1.5 billion investment to produce SiC chips on 200mm wafers on U.S. soil. Over the past 18 months, we have seen an uptick in global demand for compound semiconductor-capable brownfield fabs.
Just this past November, Vishay Intertechnology announced its purchase of the compound semi-capable Nexperia Newport, UK 200mm fab for $177 million as well as an investment of $1.2 billion in capacity over a three-year period to accelerate the company’s SiC strategy. Another compound semiconductor fab has also recently come to market and is available for acquisition, with there being significant interest thus far given its technical capabilities.
While the U.S. and Europe are making great headway with regard to compound semiconductor production, there is still a risk that more than half of the world’s SiC wafers might come from China in 2024 – more exciting compound semiconductor developments to unravel next year.