Chinese Players Rally for Demand Surge in MOSFET, IGBT, and SiC

Chinese semiconductor companies are once again quickly making their presence known in the power semiconductor market, particularly in the fields of MOSFET, IGBT, and SiC.

Among various types of power ICs and power devices, MOSFET and IGBT-based voltage-controlled switching devices have become the mainstream products, accounting for more than 70% of power devices due to their ease of use, fast switching speed, and low power loss. They are mainly used in end markets such as automobiles, industry, and consumer electronics.

On the other hand, SiC can further assist in breakthroughs in EV technology and has become the most popular alternative technology route in the market, with its strong material properties such as low resistance, high temperature resistance, and high voltage resistance.

From IGBT and MOSFET to SiC, there has been a surge in demand in recent years, indicating the enormous growth potential of power semiconductors for automotive use. This has attracted many Chinese players to enter the competition.

IGBT: Explosive Growth for Chinese Players

As the core component of new energy vehicles, demand for IGBT is increasing. Looking at the financial reports of overseas large factories, the top five IGBT chip manufacturers in Q1 of this year still face tight delivery times, with the longest reaching 54 weeks.

The rapid growth of the EV and energy storage markets has resulted in a supply-demand imbalance for SiC MOSFETs. Major international IDM factories’ production capacity won’t be able to meet the demand in the coming years. Consequently, Infineon, STMicroelectronics, and ON Semiconductor are focusing on local supply in Europe and America. This has led to Chinese suppliers replacing automotive IGBTs for the domestic market.

In 2022, the IGBT industry in China saw a surge in demand. After a two-year auto chip shortage starting in 2020, the supply of IGBTs has become even tighter. In the second half of 2022, IGBT surpassed automotive MCU and became the biggest supply bottleneck affecting automotive production expansion.
According to the latest statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, China’s new energy vehicles continued to explode in 2022, with production and sales reaching 7.058 million and 6.887 million vehicles, respectively, a year-on-year increase of 96.9% and 93.4%, maintaining the world’s first for eight consecutive years.

Many representative companies in China continue to strengthen their IGBT technology research and development:

  • In the first half of 2022, StarPower Semiconductor developed a new generation of 650V/750V IGBT chips for the new car standard based on the seventh-generation microgroove Trench Field Stop technology, which passed customer verification and began mass production in the second half of 2022.
  • Silan is keeping up with the trend of new energy development and has entered the field of vehicle-grade IGBT modules and SiC MOSFETs through a private placement financing. Its vehicle-grade IGBT and other products have been verified and have been delivered in bulk.

Since the end of 2021, the IGBT capacity of companies such as CRRC Times Electric, Silan, and Huahong Grace has been ready, and their revenue has also been rising. Combining the data of major companies with revenue exceeding 10 billion yuan that have released their 2022 financial reports, the power device companies are CRRC Times Electric, with 18.034 billion yuan, and Hua Run Micro, with 10.06 billion yuan.

MOSFET: Demand Doubles with the Rise of EVs

MOSFETs are used in high-voltage applications, such as DC-DC and OBC, to convert and transmit electrical energy. On average, there are now over 200 MOSFETs per car. As cars become more advanced and incorporate features like ADAS, safety, and entertainment, the number of MOSFETs per car is expected to double to 400 in high-end models.
With major companies such as Renesas gradually withdrawing from the low and medium-voltage MOSFET market, Chinese players have been accelerating their entry into the automotive supply chain. Currently, companies such as Silan and Nexperia are continuously expanding their global market share of MOSFETs, while other companies such as China Resources Microelectronics, Yangjie Electronic, Good-Ark Electronics, Jilin Sino-Microelectronics, NCE Power Co, New Jie Energy, Oriental Semi and Jiejie Microelectronics have been continuously developing in the field of automotive-grade MOSFETs in recent years.

Chinese IDM companies have expanded their market share by offering high-voltage super junction products:

  • Silan has completed the development of a 12-inch high-voltage super junction MOS process platform.
  • China Resources Microelectronics has achieved revenue of over 100 million yuan in the first quarter of 2022 for high-voltage super junction products.
  • Yangjie Electronic has achieved a significant increase in MOS orders for automobiles in the first quarter of 2022.

SiC: Entire Supply Chain Enters the Game

The growth of EV and energy storage markets has been causing a supply shortage in SiC. As major international IDMs are expected to expand their SiC capacity and potentially engage in more M&A activities, Chinese manufacturers are simultaneously make more investments throughout SiC supply chain:

  • IDM: Sanan Optoelectronics, Inventchip, Silan, and Sichain are trying to transform the IDM model by improving their processes but face development obstacles.
  • Foundry: Besides Fabless manufacturers are participating in the SiC market, foundry companies such as X-FAB are also actively developing related businesses, especially Taiwanese manufacturers. After EPISIL Hong Young Semiconductor and ProAsia Semiconductor have also entered the market.

XinYueNeng a new foundry invested by Geely Auto, has also attracted market attention. Its related projects are expected to be put into operation in the second half of this year, and its partner AccoPower is already producing SiC power modules for vehicles.

It’s also important to note the development of the SiC specialized production equipment market. Some key equipment, such as the epitaxial reactor, is experiencing delivery delays, which may impact the expansion plans of suppliers like Tianyu Semiconductor and EpiWorld. On the positive side, it still presents great opportunities for local equipment manufacturers.

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