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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 more complex to grow and process than silicon. Refining and mastering their use thus takes more time. However, the intrinsic properties of such substrates make them ideal for the development of devices, as GaAs, InP, SiC and GaN increasingly take over the world of electronics, including power electronics, RF applications, and photonics modules, all related to the mega trends like 5G, EV, and hyper scale datacenters.
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 could not provide the necessary performance. If we look at the tremendous investment in the semiconductor industry over the past ten years, a number of materials and engineered substrates have already succeeded in entering the mass market based on performance, such as
Facing the emergence of these innovative substrates, semiconductor companies have also had 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 across the entire system, potentially extending the vehicles’ range and helping optimize the charging and the grid.
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 with a solid understanding of the stakes and opportunities, allowing you to make the right decisions in 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), we make forecasts available every quarter. With the same methodology, GaN is also deeply analyzed through its consumer, telecom and industrial applications, for both power and RF applications. The same goes 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.
Compound semiconductors are not just 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 provide to you.
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 bet years ago on this development, 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.
SiC power devices are enabling better performance for electric vehicles (EV), translating into 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.
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.