Power Semiconductors Weekly+ Vol. 03

The MOSIS Service of USC Information Sciences Institute and WIN Semiconductors Corp to Collaborate on III-V Compound Semiconductor Manufacturing

The MOSIS Service of Information Sciences Institute, University of Southern California and WIN Semiconductors Corp. announced a Memorandum of Understanding to accelerate the development of GaAs and GaN Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMICs) with WIN Semiconductors’ GaAs and GaN process technologies. Project flows for customers to utilize The MOSIS Service to fabricate MMICs at WIN Semiconductors Corp will be released.

The collaboration combines the MOSIS world-class semiconductor design support and manufacturing expertise, including Multi-Project Wafer (MPW) runs, and WIN Semiconductors’ industry-leading manufacturing technologies for high-speed devices utilizing III-V compound semiconductors including Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) and Gallium Nitride (GaN), and prototype packaging technologies. With this collaboration universities, research organizations, and industry organizations will have access to an extensive portfolio of heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT), Pseudomorphic high-electron-mobility transistor (pHEMT) and RF Gallium Nitride High Electron Mobility Transistor (GaN HEMT) technology platforms to develop new high performance MMIC designs. The collaboration lays the foundation for innovative, reliable, and efficient design and prototyping flows through the MPW projects with The MOSIS Service and WIN Semiconductors.

“This is a new and important capability for The MOSIS Service to provide access and support to non-silicon wafer fabrication processes with the microelectronics community.” said Craig Knoblock, Executive Director of Information Sciences Institute. “For the first time, the U.S. Government, R&D laboratories, companies, and academia will have access to WIN Semiconductors’ portfolio of III-V compound semiconductor processes with MOSIS’ legacy design and manufacturing service capabilities. We are confident that this collaboration will significantly advance microelectronics R&D and accelerate the development of advanced GaAs and GaN MMICs.”

“We are excited to launch this initiative with WIN Semiconductors” said Lifu Chang, Director of The MOSIS Service. “WIN Semiconductors is the world leader in the pure-play compound semiconductor foundry space and offers a comprehensive portfolio of III-V technologies. These III-V foundry technologies require a higher level of design-technology interplay compared to silicon technologies. Our MOSIS experience provides a platform for tightly coupled and efficient design and manufacturing flows, to support universities and design companies interested in high-performance front-end applications.”

Knoblock echoed this statement, “There are serious concerns with the access to wide varieties of semiconductor processes and design support for universities and corporations in the US, in the context of worldwide competition and wafer supply constraints. The MOSIS Service is positioned to contribute to the resolution. The addition of GaAs and GaN technologies is necessary, and we will push hard in this direction.”

WIN Semiconductors’ Senior Vice President of Technology and Strategic Business Development, David Danzilio, said, “The collaboration between WIN Semiconductors and The MOSIS Service creates a new platform for many new users to access WIN’s market leading compound semiconductor technologies.” Danzilio pointed out, “We are building a robust project framework with MOSIS’ Team. I expect to attract and enable many customers that have been interested but need the level of technical support that MOSIS can provide. WIN is the largest pure-play compound semiconductor foundry, and we welcome the new customer engagements provided by The MOSIS Service”.

Original – Win Semiconductors

DENSO, Honeywell Co-Develop E-Motor for Lilium’s All-Electric Jet

DENSO Corporation, a leading mobility supplier, and Honeywell, an aerospace leader, are co-developing an electric motor (e-motor) for the Lilium Jet. This is the first product developed by Honeywell and DENSO since formalizing their alliance, and it marks DENSO’s entry into the aerospace market. The two companies will work with Lilium, developer of the first all-electric vertical take-off and landing (“eVTOL”) jet, to integrate the e-motor into Lilium’s aircraft engines.

Electric aircraft are not only quiet and comfortable, but are also more sustainable as they do not emit CO2. As mobility becomes increasingly diversified, air mobility offers potential solutions to prominent transportation issues, such as traffic congestion in urban centers, CO2 emissions and transportation access in less populated areas.

Established in 2015, Lilium is creating a sustainable and accessible mode of high-speed, regional transportation for people and goods. Lilium has designed, built and tested technology demonstrators and invited the world to watch as they pioneer the next phase of flight. .

The e-motor for the Lilium Jet consists of a rotor and stator, weighing approximately 4 kg and having an output of 100 kW. The rotor and stator are uniquely designed to meet the small size and low weight necessary to achieve Lilium’s performance goals. This proprietary, high-performance system, on which the Lilium, Honeywell and DENSO teams have already been working for nearly two years, brings exceptional performance and reliability with zero operating emissions typically associated with commercial jet engines.

DENSO and Honeywell began joint research in 2019 and signed an alliance agreement in early 2021 to design, develop, produce and sell electric propulsion system products for electric and hybrid-electric aircraft.

Stéphane Fymat, vice president and general manager of Urban Air Mobility, Honeywell Aerospace said: “Honeywell has been at the forefront of innovation in aviation for a century, and we are proud to closely collaborate with DENSO and help usher in the age of electric flight. Lilium’s innovation, combined with our experience in aerospace, will help to bring about cleaner, more sustainable ways for people to travel for centuries to come.”

Jiro Ebihara, Senior Executive officer and head of the Electrification Systems Business Group at DENSO, said: “We’re honored to help electrify air travel with Honeywell and Lilium. The e-motor co-development solidifies DENSO’s successful entry into the aerospace industry, giving us the opportunity to increase vehicle electrification not only on land, but also in the sky. This supports our efforts to create a more efficient and sustainable future.”

Yves Yemsi, Chief Operating Officer of Lilium said: “Lilium’s Procurement strategy is to engage with the technology providers with the most suitable expertise. We are already making great progress with Honeywell on its Honeywell Anthem integrated flight deck and flight control computers, and we are delighted to deepen our relationship by also partnering with Honeywell and DENSO on our e-motor. The collaboration with these two powerhouses takes us further along the path to revolutionizing regional air mobility.”

This work furthers both Honeywell’s and DENSO’s strategies. It advances DENSO’s Two Great Causes: Green – achieving carbon neutrality by 2035 – and Peace of Mind – contributing to a safer and more seamless world for all. For Honeywell, it expands the company’s wide range of ready-now technologies that are helping customers improve sustainability and deliver operational efficiencies.

Original – DENSO

Renesas Introduces Complex Device Driver Software to Ease Development of Battery Management Systems for Electric Vehicles

Renesas Electronics Corporation, a premier supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions, introduced an AUTOSAR-compliant complex device driver (CDD) software module for designers of automotive battery management systems (BMS) in electric vehicles (EVs). The new software pairs with Renesas’ industry-leading ISL78714 Li-Ion battery management IC to speed design and optimize performance of next-generation systems.

The CDD software is designed to work with Renesas’ Winning Combination BMS reference design hardware kit, which includes the ISL78714 IC and the RH850/P1M MCU. The CDD includes configuration and integration of required microcontroller abstraction layer (MCAL) modules provided by Renesas for the RH850 MCU. It provides an entire low-level software solution for collecting battery cell voltage and temperature measurements and controlling cell balancing functions of the ISL78714. Configurable parameters determine the number of cells in the BMS system and the desired rate of battery cell data collection.

The CDD software has a simple but full-featured API that allows the end-user’s application software to receive battery cell measurements in real time. Software interfaces and protocol management needed to operate the ISL78714 are built into the CDD software and operate on top of existing lower-level SPI, GPIO, and General Purpose Timer (GPT) drivers included in the MCAL modules. The CDD software provides customers with a practical architecture for simplifying their software design and allows them to focus efforts on their unique application features.

The new ISL78714 CDD software follows ISO26262 ASIL D (the highest level of automotive functional safety) development processes. The RH850/P1M MCU and MCAL modules also achieve ASIL D. The ISL78714 CDD software, as a template for successful ASIL D software development, is an enormous asset. Customers who desire assistance with their design can work under contract with Renesas partner TATA Elxsi to develop their system.

“As the EV market continues to expand rapidly, battery management is a critical element in the success of new vehicles,” said Niall Lyne, Vice President of the Automotive Analog Power and Video Business Division at Renesas. “The Renesas ISL78714 IC combined with our new CDD software helps our customers get the best performance possible out of their battery management systems, reduces their development schedule, and simultaneously eases the difficult process of meeting stringent ASIL D safety requirements.”

“The unique features of the Renesas ISL78714 battery management IC, combined with the new CDD software, offer a powerful platform to develop our integrated BMS,” said Chris Klesyk, Vice President, Battery Management for Our Next Energy. “This technology partnership is foundational for ONE’s immediate BMS needs and offers a path for future enhancements.”

Original – Renesas

BorgWarner’s Silicon Carbide Inverter Powers Two Performance Car Brands to Win in Range

BorgWarner, a global leader in delivering innovative and sustainable mobility solutions for the vehicle market, is partnering with two performance car brands, to provide them with a new 800-volt silicon carbide (SiC) inverter. As one of the key components in a new energy power system, inverters not only convert the DC power stored in the battery pack into AC power, but they also convert the AC power recovered during the braking process back to battery. Currently, most electric vehicles are equipped with a 400-volt system.

As all-electric vehicles are expected to provide extended range and address higher requirements for charging performance, a more efficient semiconductor material is needed to increase the power density of inverters and electric drive assemblies. With this in mind, BorgWarner took the lead in building upon advanced technology to enable the application of silicon carbide in electric vehicles, ultimately developing a dual-sided cooling SiC inverter with high power that can be applied to 800-volt systems.

“We are honored to earn the trust of the two performance car brands as their core supplier of electronic propulsion systems,” said Dr. Stefan Demmerle, President and General Manager, BorgWarner PowerDrive Systems. “As a leader in this highly competitive market, BorgWarner continues to develop innovative game-changing technologies for electric vehicles; our 800V silicon carbide inverter solution is a great example.”

This new SiC inverter is designed using BorgWarner’s patented “Viper” SiC 800V power module, which resulted in the usage saving of Semi-Conductor and SiC Material. The dual-side cooling technology in the power module helped to reduce product weight by 40%, size by 30% and increase power density by 25% compare to the traditional Si based inverters. The SiC power switch application will improve the system efficiency with better performance at a lower cost for our customers.

Thanks to the unique Viper design, the solution is scalable to address changing demands, and adapts to both lower and higher voltage systems, making it easy to manage the multiple voltage ratings required by PHEVs and EVs.

The two electric SUVs equipped with BorgWarner’s latest 800-volt silicon carbide inverter are scheduled to start production in 2023 and 2024.

Original – BorgWarner

Korea’s LX Group Seeks to Acquire Magnachip Semiconductor

South Korea’s LX Group is looking to acquire US-listed Magnachip Semiconductor Corp. to create synergy with the group’s foundry affiliate, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

LX Group, a split-off from Korea’s fourth-largest conglomerate LG Group, will make its interest in Magnachip official by submitting a letter of intent (LOI) as early as next week, according to investment banking industry sources.

With the acquisition, LX hopes to achieve economies of scale in the chip design and manufacture business by combining Magnachip with LX Semicon Co., the sources said.

LX Semicon, which largely supplies its products, including display driver ICs (DDICs), to LG Group, can benefit from Magnachip’s DDIC-related patents and manufacturing facilities, they said.

LX Semicon, formerly Silicon Works Co., is striving to diversify its business portfolio into the production of automotive chips, which are in growing demand from electric vehicle makers.

Headquartered in Korea, Magnachip is the world’s second-largest DDIC chipmaker with a 30% market share following industry leader Samsung Electronics Co.

The company posted $474 million in revenue with its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $64.1 million last year.

Specializing in system chips, Magnachip is also preparing to enter the silicon carbide (SiC)-based automotive power chip market in the second half of this year.

The company’s shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Its market capitalization stood at 843.3 billion won as of Tuesday. Magnachip’s entire stake, including the management rights premium, could reach as high as 1 trillion won, the sources said.

Magnachip was set to be sold to Chinese private equity firm Wise Road Capital for $1.4 billion last December, but the deal went awry after the US government, amid a trade dispute with China, blocked it, saying that the deal posed a “risk to national security.”

Since then, Magnachip has been looking for other buyers, mostly Korean.

SK Hynix Inc., Kolon Group and KCC Corp. earlier considered acquiring the system chipmaker, but have dropped their interest, industry watchers said. Wonik Corp., a small Korean semiconductor company, is also said to be interested in Magnachip, they said.

SK Hynix, the world’s second-largest memory chipmaker, last October took over Key Foundry, a spin-off of Magnachip’s foundry business, for 576 billion won.

LX Group’s bid for Magnachip will be led by LX Semicon and forming a consortium with private equity firms is also a strong possibility to raise its chance of winning the bid, sources said.

For LX Group, the purchase of Magnachip, if successful, would mean retaking the ownership of a major chip company previously sold to its rival conglomerate Hyundai in a deal engineered by the government.

Magnachip originated from LG Semiconductor, which was launched in 1979.

In 1999, however, LG Semiconductor was sold to Hyundai Group and merged into Hyundai Semiconductor as the government worked out a “Big Deal” among conglomerates allowing local companies to better compete with foreign rivals in key sectors.

LX Group Chairman Koo Bon-joon was the chief executive of LG Semiconductor at the time.

Hyundai Semiconductor was later renamed Hyundai Hynix, and then SK Hynix after SK Group acquired the chipmaker.

LX Semicon last year posted record sales of 1.9 trillion won with its operating profit rising threefold to 369.6 billion from the previous year amid a global chip shortage.

In late 2020, LG Group split off its non-core units and placed them under another holding firm, LX Holdings Corp., which owns affiliates such as LX Hausys Ltd. and LX MMA Corp.

LX Chairman Koo, who is the uncle of LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, ran LG Electronics Inc. for six years from 2010 and was vice chairman of LG Corp. for three years after that. He is a grandson of LG Group founder Koo In-hwoi and the third son of Koo Ja-kyung, the late honorary chairman.

LX Group has been active in the M&A market since its inauguration.

Last December, the group acquired a 100% stake in Hankuk Glass Industries Inc. (HanGlas) for about 600 billion won through the group’s core affiliate LX International Corp.

Original – KED Global

II-VI Incorporated Significantly Reduces Its Global Carbon Footprint with Renewable Energy Contracts in Asia

II‐VI Incorporated, a global leader in engineered materials and optoelectronic components, announced that it has signed renewable energy contracts for powering multiple sites throughout Asia with 100% renewable electricity. These new agreements represent 35 GWh of renewable electricity per year, thereby avoiding an additional 18,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually. The agreement covers II-VI sites in India, the Philippines, Vietnam, China, and Japan.

II-VI has set as a top priority to reduce its carbon footprint across its global operations. Including today’s announcement, II-VI has entered into renewable electricity contracts for over 40 sites around the world, including over 35 sites that now cover 100% of their annual electricity usage with renewable sources.

“II-VI now purchases approximately 38% of our electricity from renewable sources,” said Tim Challingsworth, Chief Sustainability Officer. “This announcement is an important next step in fulfilling our commitment to steadily reduce our carbon footprint position around the globe.”

II-VI announced on Earth Day 2022 (April 22) that nine of its U.S. sites will now cover 100% of their annual electricity usage with renewable sources. In October 2021, it announced that it was powering all of its facilities in Europe with 100% renewable electricity sources, and in January 2022 that its largest plant in China would be powered with 100% renewable electricity sources within four years.

Original – II-VI

Vitesco Technologies Gives Outlook on Innovations for Electromobility

Vitesco Technologies, a leading international manufacturer of advanced powertrain technologies and electrification solutions, will present innovations for vehicle electrification at the 35th International Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS) in Oslo from June 11 to 15.

In Oslo, the company will be showing for the first time a drive solution optimized for the higher ranges of electric cars in the future. A so-called externally excited synchronous electric machine (EESM), which does not require the use of rare earth metals and which is specifically designed for high ranges, faster driving on highways, and thus for future long-distance electric vehicles.

Permanently excited synchronous machines (PSM) are today standard in vehicle electrification. This is due to the high efficiency of these electric motors in city traffic or at medium ranges. Permanent magnets based on rare earths are installed in the rotor of PSM motors. In the meantime, however, the general conditions for electric drives are changing: The ranges of battery electric vehicles are becoming longer and longer, and on real long-distance routes with fast highway driving, externally excited synchronous machines (EESM) play out their advantage. Especially at high speeds they are more efficient than PSMs.

Instead of magnets, the rotor here has coils. In addition to efficiency at high speeds, this offers the advantage of avoiding the prices for permanent magnets, which have now risen to a 10-year high. In addition, the CO2 footprint of the drive is reduced by the portion attributable to rare earth mining, which can have a positive impact on product sustainability over its life cycle.

Vitesco Technologies is therefore preparing a portfolio expansion that will make EESM technology available for its already successful axle drive including power electronics. The company has many years of field experience with this technology and thus has a certain head start in development and industrialization.

In a second presentation focus at the EVS Symposium, Vitesco Technologies will showcase systems and solutions that further make electric driving more efficient. These include – in addition to the integrated electric axle drive:

  • battery management for monitoring the battery and its state of charge, increasing safety and battery service life
  • power electronics, a key component of any electrified drive, because it supplies power not only to the electric motor but also to the high-voltage battery
  • thermal management for greater range and comfort and faster charging
  • high-voltage box, as central electronics for the charging technology of electric vehicles as well as for the energy supply in the vehicle
  • master controller, provides like a small server, everything an electric vehicle needs to drive.

“With our portfolio, we are clearly focusing on global, scalable platforms for electrified vehicles. This is where we see the growth, and this is also where the potential for sustainable and increasingly CO2-neutral mobility of the future lies,” says Thomas Stierle.

Another highlight is a vehicle that functions as a rolling test stand. Here, the function of the inverter can be monitored in real time – thanks to highly sophisticated measurement technology. From this “glass inverter”, selected values such as current flows, efficiencies and losses are transmitted to the Vitesco Technologies Cloud. Among other things, this eye-catcher shows the measurement technology know-how from the preceding development work on high-efficiency silicon carbide (SiC) inverters, with which Vitesco Technologies will go into series production starting in 2023.

The EVS Symposium has established itself as a high-level event for vehicle electrification, covering everything from micro mobility to heavy duty, systems for public transport, aviation and marine. The organizer himself speaks of the largest symposium for electric mobility worldwide.

Original – Vitesco Technologies

Bosch Bets as a Venture Capital and Contributes €250 million to Startups

Despite the challenging business environment, the Bosch Group is increasing venture capital funding for the current business year: its subsidiary Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC) is creating a new fund for start-ups. The size of the fund is 250 million euros.

As a provider of venture capital, Bosch supports start-ups around the world whose technologies have the potential to improve quality of life and conserve natural resources.

“Our investments in startups advance technological advancements in business and society. We are also benefiting from this collaboration, as solutions to increasingly complex tasks can be found faster, more efficiently and better. By better collaborating with others,” the Chairman said. Robert Bosch GmbH Board of Directors, Dr. Stephen Hartung

As a leader in innovation, Bosch is at the forefront of efforts to deliver climate-neutral technology, sustainable mobility and connectivity, which is why RBVC’s investments are also focusing on areas such as energy efficiency and powertrain electrification.

Bosch recently announced that it will invest billions in climate-neutral technology, including hydrogen technologies, and the digital transformation of its business.

RBVC, one of the largest investing companies in Europe, specializes in innovative technology startups. Its portfolio includes more than 50 companies, primarily active in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), semiconductors and quantum computing. RBVC invests up to €25 million in individual start-ups, providing them with the knowledge and connections that the Bosch Group has as a leading provider of technology and services.

As part of the localization strategy, RBVC is constantly expanding its investment activities around the world: in China, the subsidiary has successfully established an investment platform with Boyuan Capital on which other companies can also invest venture capital in funds. With its locations and connections to the startup scene, RBVC maintains a presence in technology hotspots around the world such as China, Germany, Israel and the United States to its office on the US Atlantic Coast, in Boston. “As a global

investor, we are part of the startup landscape, looking for the next disruptive innovation that will turn markets upside down,” says Dr. Ingo Ramesohl, Managing Director of Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH. “This second office in the US will ensure that we are better at keeping pace with emerging tech companies.”

Each year, RBVC experts screen over 2,000 startups, but only a few hundred make it to the list of finalists. RBVC also wants to use the new funding round to find technological answers to changing geopolitical and trade policy conditions. “Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing geopolitical tension has left its mark everywhere, as evidenced by the lack of chips and disruptions to global value chains,” Ramsall says. “That’s why we also want to identify technology trends that can provide relief in such situations.” Each year, RBVC invests in six to ten carefully selected companies. In addition to capital, it also provides knowledge and operational support.

As Ramsall points out, RBVC pursues an open culture of innovation through its Open Bosch programme, creating connections between startups and Bosch operating units at an early stage. This gives new companies the opportunity to become a Bosch supplier, customer or technology partner. Bosch, in turn, receives early access to the latest technology and can incorporate it into its own innovations. Bosch already has several hundred partnerships with start-ups: in 2021 alone, the number of such activities tripled.

When the investment ends, RBVC may also choose to help a startup go public. In this sense, it is similar to institutional venture capital funds. One of the recent success stories has been the IPO of Xometry, the operator of an AI-powered marketplace for on-demand manufacturing. Another success was IonQ, the first publicly traded quantum computing company. Since 2021, the RBVC portfolio also includes Variantyx.

This startup uses AI-assisted genetic testing to diagnose cancer and is also working with Robert Bosch Hospital in the field. To support the shift to electric mobility, RBVC has also invested in startup BASiC Semiconductor, which makes silicon carbide power electronics. Finally, Motive, the startup formerly known as Keep Trucking, operates the fleet management system in the United States.

Original – Pen Media

Applied Materials Broadens Its Technology Portfolio for Specialty Chips with Acquisition of Picosun

Applied Materials, Inc. announced it has acquired Picosun Oy, a privately held semiconductor equipment company based in Espoo, Finland. Picosun is an innovator in atomic layer deposition (ALD) technology, primarily for specialty semiconductors.

As electronic products become smarter and more connected, they require greater numbers of specialty semiconductors built on non-leading-edge process nodes. Applied’s ICAPS (IoT, Communications, Automotive, Power and Sensors) group provides materials engineering solutions to customers in these growing markets. The addition of Picosun’s ALD technology broadens the Applied ICAPS product portfolio and customer engagements. Picosun also brings to Applied deep R&D capabilities, talented teams and strong relationships with leading research institutions and universities throughout the world.

“Picosun is a pioneer in ALD technology with products that serve fast-growing segments of the specialty foundry-logic market,” said Gary Dickerson, President and CEO of Applied Materials. “The addition of Picosun complements Applied Materials’ technology portfolio and expands our opportunities to accelerate our customers’ roadmaps.”

“Rapid growth in the number of connected devices is driving a tremendous need for innovation in the chips used to bridge the analog and digital worlds,” said Sundar Ramamurthy, Group Vice President and General Manager of the ICAPS group at Applied Materials. “Bringing Picosun’s talented team to Applied Materials will strengthen our ability to help customers add more intelligence and functionality to a wide variety of edge computing devices.”

“Picosun has a strong history of innovation, with roots dating back to the invention of ALD technology nearly 50 years ago,” said Kustaa Poutiainen, Former Chairman of the Board of Picosun. “As we look ahead to our next phase of growth, we believe starting a new journey as part of Applied Materials – a company we have long admired – is the best path forward and will create exciting opportunities for our employees, customers and research partners.” 

The Picosun team will continue to be based in Finland and will report into Applied’s ICAPS group.

The transaction has been approved by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland; no other regulatory approvals were required. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC served as financial advisor and Hogan Lovells US LLP served as legal counsel for Applied Materials.

Original – Applied Materials

Soitec to Build 300-mm SOI Wafer Fab Extension in Singapore

French silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafer supplier Soitec announced it will build an extension to its 300-mm SOI wafer fab in Pasir Ris, Singapore. The ambition is to double the capacity to meet the strong and continuous demand for semiconductors.

As the digitization of our own lives and businesses accelerates, semiconductor markets have boomed, with sales growing by more than 20% to about US$600 billion by 2021, according to McKinsey. Based on a series of macroeconomic assumptions, the consulting firm now predicts that the semiconductor industry’s aggregate annual growth could average 6% to 8% per year through 2030.

At a press conference in Paris, Paul Boudre, CEO of Soitec, said, “The semiconductor market is set to double in the next seven to eight years. You can imagine the capacity that needs to be put in place. What we have done in 30 years, we have to do in eight years.”

He added, “To get everything working at the right speed, from our major customers to our raw material suppliers, we are transforming the contractual mode in place. We’re giving ourselves more visibility, and we’re taking on longer and stronger commitments.”

Soitec benefits from a longer visibility with its customers, thanks to contracts signed for three to five years. “Before, visibility was on average two years,” said Boudre. “We’ve doubled in visibility, but the financial commitments associated with these contracts are also stronger.”

To keep pace with its customers’ needs and support their increasing demand, Soitec announced in March a new facility at its headquarters in Bernin, France, primarily to produce silicon carbide wafers, based on its SmartSiC technology, for the electric-vehicle market.

The Pasir Ris extension comes in response to strong demand for SOI wafers and specifically 300-mm SOI wafers, Boudre said. “When we talk about an extension, we’re not talking about a small extension, as we intend to double the capacity of this site and add 1 million wafers per year, which will allow us to go to a total capacity of 2.7 million 300-mm wafers [per year].” This does not include 150- and 200-mm SOI wafers.

Boudre continued, “Demand for SOI wafers is driven by RF-SOI for mobile; FD-SOI [fully depleted silicon-on-insulator] for automotive, mobile, and smart devices; and photonic SOI.”

The fab extension will enter production by 2025, but Boudre did not say when it would reach full production capacity. “We don’t have the visibility for 2029–2030, but today, considering the contracts we have, we know we need it in our five-year [2022–2026] plan.”

In 2008, Soitec announced it had manufactured its first SOI wafers in Asia at its Pasir Ris facility. At the time, the unit featured 4,000 square meters of cleanrooms and had a production capacity of 1 million 300-mm wafers per year. In September 2017, Soitec launched a pilot line to produce FD-SOI wafers to meet customer demand. This investment in Singapore was approximately US$40 million.

Located in the heart of the Grésivaudan Valley, the small town of Bernin is surrounded by mountains. Today, Soitec occupies all available space and cannot expand further. To unblock the situation and be able to embrace growth opportunities, Boudre said, “We are working to recover space and to be able to continue to expand in the future.”

When Soitec laid the cornerstone for its new 2,000-square-meter Bernin 4 plant, just a few meters from its historic site, the company said it was its last available piece of land.

Soitec is currently building two facilities in Bernin. “We can’t do three at the same time,” said Steve Babureck, senior vice president of strategy, corporate development, and investor relations at Soitec.

And because we are talking about an extension of the Pasir Ris site and not the construction of a new site, Boudre speaks of “synergy.” It is the same technologies, the same products, and the same environment. Such synergy means faster qualification, increased agility, and cost control. “If we build an extension, our customers feel that it is the same fab. If we, do it in Limoges [France], we have 12 to 18 months of product qualification. That time we put toward our production cycles.”

To support its growth and strategic priorities, Soitec announced in June 2021 a five-year capital expenditure program of approximately €1.1 billion for the period from fiscal year 2022 to fiscal year 2026.

When asked if the company’s extension in Pasir Ris was included in the investment plan, Léa Alzingre, head of corporate finance at Soitec, answered affirmatively to EE Times Europe. She then stressed that the cost of equipment was included but that the cost of buildings was not. “Over the period from fiscal year 2022 to fiscal year 2026, we remain on our envelope of €1.1 billion,” she said. “Adding the buildings, we will need for Bernin 4 and the Pasir Ris extension, we come to €1.4 billion.”

For the Pasir Ris plant, Alzingre said that the cost of buildings was budgeted at €200 million and, in the envelope of €1.1 billion, the overall equipment installation represents 20% over the period from fiscal year 2022 to fiscal year 2026.

Original – EE Times Asia

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