A certain semiconductor in uncertain times

Wolfspeed, Infineon, STMicroelectronics, Onsemi and Rohm announced huge capex plans for SiC in recent months. Who will lead the market? – By Jean-Christophe Eloy, Yole Group, in collaboration with Poshun Chiu and Ezgi Dogmus, analysts at Yole Intelligence, part of Yole Group, for Ojo & Yoshida Report.

What’s at stake?

Thanks to automotive electrification, the silicon carbide semiconductor market is witnessing unprecedented growth, with industry players jostling for position. Big questions we ponder are who are best positioned to lead the SiC device market and who will eventually acquire whom.

It is self-evident that the silicon carbide (SiC) market is on a roll right now. Bucking the downward trend that many semiconductor markets suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic, the power-SiC device market is set to grow to more than $6 billion by 2027, up from around $1 billion in 2021.

The market’s unprecedented growth is inextricably linked to the electrification of road transport. Thanks to high efficiencies, low switching losses and high thermal conductivities, SiC devices are in hot demand from electric-vehicle manufacturers keen to make the best-performing vehicles with the longest range. And industry players, including STMicroelectronics, Wolfspeed, Rohm, Infineon, Onsemi and many more, are eager to please, having collectively invested more than $15 billion in the SiC market since 2019.

(Source: Yole Intelligence, part of Yole Group)

All eyes on Wolfspeed

The largest investor, to date, is Wolfspeed. Currently holding the third-largest share of the SiC component market, the U.S.-based wide-bandgap semiconductor manufacturer plans to pour in excess of $5 billion into its North Carolina materials-manufacturing plant as well as the 8-inch SiC wafer facility it opened in New York state earlier this year.

Right now, the competition is delivering SiC devices on 6-inch wafers. Given that Wolfspeed has set up this facility to manufacture chips on its own 8-inch wafers, no other device maker will have significant access to these larger wafer sizes for the time being. What’s more, Wolfspeed is currently the only industry innovator to manufacture both 8-inch SiC wafers and power devices in this fast-moving market… Full article