Compound Semiconductor

THERE IS A WORLD BEYOND SILICON: SIC, GAN, GAAS, INP AND SOI HAVE STARTED TO MAKE THEIR WAY

The advent of compound semiconductors has displaced the silicon substrates from the backbone industry status they had enjoyed for decades. Compound semiconductors are more difficult to produce at high production volumes as these crystals are complex to grow and process than silicon. Refining and mastering their use takes more time. However, the intrinsic properties of such substrates make them ideal for the development of devices. Thus, GaAs, InP, SiC and GaN penetrate step by step the electronic world, including power electronics, RF applications, and photonics modules, all related to the mega trends - 5G, EV, hyper scale datacenters...

WHEN SIC and GAN MEET SEMICONDUCTORS: SMALLER, BETTER, FASTER, MORE DEVICES

As new performance needs emerge and requirements evolve, new semiconductor substrate materials are becoming mandatory choices for applications. Because of their fundamental material properties, compound semiconductors can do things where silicon cannot provide the necessary performance. If we look at the tremendous investment in the semiconductor industry over the past 10 years, a number of materials and engineered substrates have already succeeded in entering the mass market based on performance: think GaAs for RF and photonics; SiC for power; GaN for LED, RF and power; and even SOI for RF and 3D imaging sensors. Facing the emergence of these innovative substrates, the semiconductor companies have also to develop new solutions fully dedicated to the packaging of such devices.

As a specific example, smartphone power adapters have begun a transition toward GaN technology, allowing faster charging with a smaller plug.

In a similar way, for electric vehicles (EV) we believe that moving to compound semiconductors will deliver a massive increase in power efficiency all across the whole system, potentially extending the vehicles’ range and helping optimize the charging and the grid.

Our vision

THE INSIDER AND OUTSIDER VIEW OF THE COMPOUND SEMICONDUCTOR INDUSTRY

In the face of dramatic changes in the industry, Yole Group can help you navigate the world of compound semiconductors. Through reporting, forecasting products and customized services, we will provide you a solid understanding of the stakes and opportunities, allowing you to make the right decisions for the development of your activities.

SiC analyses from Yole Group are calibrated with the input of chip size, ASP of both device and wafer, and market trends at device, module and systems levels. By calibrating the ramp-up of 800V electric vehicle (EV) and SiC penetration in the forecast period, along with adjustment of SiC penetration in different applications, such as telecom power supply and rail traction, forecasts are available each quarter. With the same methodology, GaN is also deeply analyzed through in consumer, telecom and industrial applications, for power and RF applications. And same for GaAs, InP and other emerging materials.

Moreover, our analysts provide you with data and technology choices from leading compound semiconductor devices manufacturers, through multiple teardowns and reverse engineering of RF, power and photonic devices and modules.

THE COMPOUND SEMICONDUCTOR INDUSTRY: A SUPPLY CHAIN IN TRANSFORMATION

Compound semiconductors are not a question of mining and developing new substrates. They require brand new supply chains – from materials to equipment, to wafers and epi-wafers, and, finally, modules.
These supply chains take on different forms according to whether they produce SiC, GaN, GaAs and InP, and also if the ultimate function is RF, power or photonics devices.
A complete understanding of the applications, their specifications, the technology trends and supply chain is elemental to get a sense of the industry’s evolution – and that is exactly what Yole Group can give you.

SIC AND GAN, TWO KEY COMPOUND SEMICONDUCTOR MATERIALS DRIVING THE NEXT COMPOUND SEMICONDUCTOR REVOLUTION

Society, and human nature itself, are continuously looking for better performance and pushing technology development. Material scientists, device researchers and industrial players are developing compound semiconductors, engineered substrates and templates that are already part of daily life in ways we couldn’t predict just a few years ago.

Compound semiconductors impact the industry’s entire supply chain – from wafer manufacturers to OEMs and integrators. Leading players like IQE, STMicroelectronics, Cree/Wolfspeed, ROHM, Infineon Technologies, Onsemi, II-VI and Showa Denko (etc) bet years ago on this evolution with heavy investments. Today, they are benefitting from a strong wave of compound semiconductor demand.

The total compound market is already far above $10 billion and is expected to grow as a whole by more than 30% per year in the short-term. The market size, growth rate, as well as the impact of compound semiconductors across all key industry trends – e-mobility, 5G, autonomous cars, datacenters – are a result of their strong added value, displacing silicon in many applications.

Key Drivers

SiC POWER SEMICONDUCTOR MARKET: POWERING THE TRANSPORTATION REVOLUTION

SiC power devices are enabling better performance for electric vehicles (EV), translating as lower battery cost for the same driving range, or increased range for the same battery. Providing a choice to car makers and all attendant suppliers is driving a huge investment cycle.

On the other hand, market opportunity is huge as the SiC device market is expected to grow beyond $6 billion by 2027 – from a $1B business in 2021.

A complete supply chain is being put in place to support this growth, and innovations are actively being developed in order to lower the cost of such functionalities.

RADIO FREQUENCY AS A FURTHER DRIVER OF COMPOUND SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES

Silicon is clearly the workhorse of the semiconductor industry. But when a specific type of performance is needed, compound semiconductor substrates – such as GaN, GaAs, SOI and multiple other materials – and the linked supply chain are what provide the requested added value. The proliferation of RF standards – think mobile phones, vehicle communication, base stations – and the need to reach higher frequencies or higher power, are pushing the use of multiple compound semiconductors.