ASM International has announced yesterday that it will acquire the Italian company LPE for €425M at the date of signing. So far, we have been witnessing device manufacturers buying a specific process, such as Infineon with Siltectra in 2018 or SK Siltron with DuPont’s SiC wafer division in 2020, while this time we are dealing with an equipment business. This is actually part of a global trend that has recently taken place in the semiconductor industry whereby large front-end equipment manufacturers acquire smaller More-Than-Moore equipment makers. As such, LPE will continue operating as a separate entity in Italy and will additionally gain access to ASM’s global operations, sales, and customer support network, which is a significant advantage for the former. Therefore, this deal will create business opportunities on both sides.
By acquiring LPE, ASM will now have a foothold in the SiC HTCVD market in addition to its existing activity in Si HTCVD with an 8% market share in the SiC HTCVD equipment market, according to Yole Intelligence’s Epitaxy Equipment for More Than Moore 2021 report. Yole Intelligence is part of Yole Group. As such, ASM will now compete against Aixtron, TEL, and NuFlare in the power SiC market. Moreover, ASM International will also reinforce its position in the Si HTCVD equipment market, jumping from a 13% market share to 24%, overtaking the Chinese equipment maker Naura while Applied Materials will remain a solid leader.
Interestingly, LPE has a significant foothold in the Chinese market for SiC epitaxial systems, which ASM will likely continue leveraging in the foreseeable future. Indeed, the power SiC market is particularly dynamic, driven by EV/HEV applications with the open epi wafer market growing from $194.5M in 2021 to $851.0M in 2027, representing a 28% CAGR2021-2027, as shown in Yole Intelligence’s Power SiC 2022. This is also true globally: according to Yole’s best assumption, we expect the SiC EV/HEV market, including devices and modules, to grow from $480M in 2021 to beyond $1.9B in 2027. Overall, the SiC devices market is forecast to grow from $1.1B in 2021 to close to $6.3B in 2027.
On the equipment side, this translates into a robust SiC HTCVD market that is forecast to grow from $160M in 2021 to $239M by 2026, according to the Epitaxy Equipment for More Than Moore 2021 report from Yole Intelligence. There is significant upward potential driven by the need for better power conversion efficiency at the power train level for EV/HEV and on the infrastructure side for highly efficient fast charging, without forgetting PV inverters and power supplies for data center applications, for instance.
Today’s announcement also comes at a time when LPE is planning to launch its PE208 model which consists of a two-chamber configuration capable of processing 8’’ SiC wafers without sacrificing on throughput. This is a significant evolution as the future of SiC wafers is forecast to be increasingly made of 8’’ SiC wafers driven by the automotive market. LPE and now ASM are well equipped to face the competition since 8’’ SiC wafer capability is only offered by TEL and Epiluvac.
This acquisition is yet another major milestone in the power SiC ecosystem. Yole expects further consolidation of this sort to take place in the coming years as major equipment manufacturers and foundries are seeing record revenues and might be tempted to add SiC wafer process capabilities to their portfolio as this market will get hotter in the coming years.
Yole Group, including Yole Intelligence and Yole SystemPlus follows the evolution of the power SiC and Power GaN devices markets, competitive landscape, and industry evolution through its Compound Semiconductor Monitor. Feel free to contact us for more details.
About the authors
Gaël Giusti, PhD., is a Technology & Market Analyst specializing in Semiconductor Manufacturing at Yole Intelligence, part of Yole Group.
As part of the Semiconductor, Memory & Computing division at Yole, Gaël’s expertise is focused on materials, equipment, and manufacturing processes. He is involved daily in the production of technology & market reports and custom consulting projects.
Prior to Yole, Gaël served as a R&D engineer at Sil’Tronix Silicon Technologies for 5 years where he was in charge growing epitaxial AlN thin film on sapphire for RF applications.
Gaël holds a master’s degree from ENSICAEN (Caen, France) as well as a PhD in Materials Science from the University of Birmingham (UK).
Taguhi Yeghoyan PhD., is a Technology & Market Analyst, Semiconductor Manufacturing at Yole Intelligence, part of Yole Group, within the Semiconductor, Memory & Computing division.
Taguhi’s mission is to follow daily the semiconductor industry and its evolution. Based on her expertise in this field, especially on the semiconductor supply chain (processes, materials, equipment, and related applications), Taguhi performs technology & market reports and is engaged in relevant custom projects.
Prior to Yole, she worked in world-class European research centers and laboratories, including imec (Belgium), LMI (Lyon, France) and LTM at CEA Leti (Grenoble, France). All along her past experiences, Taguhi has authored or co-authored two patents and more than ten papers.
She has graduated from Wroclaw University of Technology (Poland) and University of Lyon (France). Taguhi also completed her PhD. in Material Science from the University of Lyon (France).