power semiconductor


[News] Chinese Manufacturers’ Price Hikes: Signs of Power Semiconductor Industry Reversal?

From December 2023 to January this year, media reports revealed that five Chinese domestic power semiconductor manufacturers, including JJMicroelectronics, Sanlian Sheng, Sicilian Blue Color Electronics, Genesis Microelectronics, and Shenwei Semiconductor, have successively issued price adjustment notices to raise prices for their products.

The current significant reduction in power semiconductor inventory, coupled with signs of a gradual recovery in end-user demand, raises the question of whether the power semiconductor industry has hit rock bottom and is now rebounding.

Within a month, five Chinese power semiconductor companies consecutively issued price increase notices.

On January 14th, JJMicroelectronics sent a “Price Adjustment Notice” to customers, announcing a 5%-10% increase in unit prices for its Trench MOS product line starting from January 15, 2024. The reason for the price hike was stated as ” Due to prolonged losses, the existing prices have become insufficient to meet regular supply demands. In order to ensure the continuous delivery of products with stable and reliable quality, as well as high-quality services, prices are increased.”

On January 9th, Shenwei Semiconductor issued a notice stating that the past three years have been a challenging period for the entire semiconductor industry. Lackluster market demand led to malicious competition, continuous decline in product prices, and industry-wide competition causing frequent quality incidents. The company announced adjustments to packaging series prices for new orders, with increases ranging from 10% to 25%.

Sanlian Sheng Power Half Guide also recently released a price adjustment notice, citing significant increases in raw material and labor costs as reasons for a substantial cost increase beyond the company’s tolerance. After careful consideration, the company decided to increase the unit prices of its entire product line by 10%-20% starting from January 1, 2024.

On December 29, 2023, Sicilian Blue Color Electronics announced a product price adjustment notice, attributing the decision to continuous increases in upstream raw material prices and labor costs. The company’s existing prices were deemed insufficient to meet supply demands, leading to a careful decision to raise the unit prices of its entire product line by 10%-18% starting from January 1, 2024.

Genesis Microelectronics was the earliest to release a price increase notice. Industry rumors about Genesis Microelectronics price adjustment letter circulated on December 15, 2023, indicating a 10%-15% increase in prices for chips starting from January 1, 2024.

Some industry experts commented on the price increase notices, stating that with the current depletion of inventory and long-term losses incurred by companies, price adjustments are understandable.

What is the reason behind this round of price hikes, and is there sufficient momentum for future developments?

Over the past two years, sluggish market demand has led to malicious competition, especially in the discrete device segment, where severe competition has resulted in companies experiencing increased revenue but not increased profits.

Regarding this round of price hikes, several listed power semiconductor companies have stated that the overall prices of their power products are stable, and there have been no significant changes in downstream market trends recently.

Industry analysts believe that the recent wave of price increases in the power semiconductor market is a self-rescue measure for some companies that have no other choice.

Large and medium-sized power semiconductor companies can maintain price stability by binding with high-quality industry-leading customers to secure order volumes. In contrast, smaller factories appear more passive, forced to compete in the market with low profit margins to secure orders, making them vulnerable to inflationary pressures.

Looking at the development of the power semiconductor market in 2024, many industry professionals and institutions currently do not have high expectations. According to TrendForce statistics, major power semiconductor manufacturers and IDM, including Infineon, STMicroelectronics, ON Semiconductor, Wolfspeed, and Renesas, have experienced a continuous decline in revenue in the third quarter of 2023, with inventory levels still relatively high. Additionally, the relevant components in the automotive sector are still in the destocking phase. Due to the late start of destocking for automotive semiconductors, this downward cycle is expected to persist for some time.

Industry experts state that the main demand for power semiconductors is currently in the consumer/industrial sector, but the visibility in this area is still unclear. Overall, the short-term outlook for the power semiconductor industry may not see a reversal in prosperity.

(Image: JJMicroelectronics)


[News] ROHM Eyes R&D Expansion in Power Semiconductor Production Venture with Toshiba

With a financial boost from the Japanese government, electronic giants ROHM and Toshiba are joining forces in the power semiconductor industry. Collaboratively, they plan to not only enhance production but also delve into the realm of research and development, aiming to expand the capacities for Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Silicon (Si) power semiconductors.

In a joint announcement on December 8th, ROHM and Toshiba revealed their strategic collaboration in power semiconductor ventures, pooling a substantial investment totaling 388.3 billion Japanese Yen (ROHM: 289.2 billion JPY, Toshiba: 99.1 billion JPY). This capital injection aims to boost the capacities for SiC semiconductors, Si power semiconductors, and SiC wafers. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry is set to provide a generous subsidy, reaching up to 129.4 billion Japanese Yen for this collaborative venture.

Power semiconductors stand as the key necessity for energy-efficiency in electric vehicles (EVs) and industrial equipment. With a surge in global demand, ROHM concentrates its investment in SiC semiconductors, while Toshiba focuses on Si power semiconductors. The overarching objective is to elevate international competitiveness by fostering a robust collaborative manufacturing alliance.

As per report by the Japan Times, ROHM and Toshiba are embarking on a reciprocal production arrangement for power semiconductors. Toshiba leans significantly on ROHM for SiC semiconductor production, while ROHM entrusts Toshiba with the manufacturing of selected Si power semiconductors. The construction of Toshiba’s new plant in Nomi, Ishikawa Prefecture, sets the stage for Si power semiconductor supply commencing in March 2025. Meanwhile, ROHM’s new plant in Kunitomi, Miyazaki Prefecture, gears up to deliver SiC power semiconductors starting from April 2026.

Both two companies set up their goals in terms of future expansion in capacity. Toshiba envisions expanding power semiconductor capacity to 2.5 times that of the 2021 fiscal year by the 2024 fiscal year. Simultaneously, ROHM aims to elevate SiC power semiconductor capacity to 6.5 times that of the 2021 fiscal year by the 2025 fiscal year, with further expansions to 35 times by the 2030 fiscal year.

ROHM President and CEO, Isao Matsumoto, also shared the insights aiming the collaboration. In an interview with Nikkei Asia released on December 16th, Matsumoto expressed the company’s aspirations to broaden its power semiconductor collaboration with Toshiba, extending beyond production into the research and development.

Matsumoto stated that both companies aim to “discuss collaboration in development” after the launch of the joint production of power devices announced previously.

Matsumoto also emphasized that they will commence with commissioned production, and implied the possibility to enter the next stage. Looking ahead, He hope to explore collaboration involving engineer exchanges and development. When probed about the possibility of this collaboration leading to future business integration, he responded there is not definitive decision by now.

Kyodo News underscored that while Japanese firms have a significant presence in the global power semiconductor market, they often trail behind their European and American competitors, holding a market share in the 20% range. As a result, it is an urgent priority for Japanese firms to enhance international competitiveness, expand scale, and improve efficiency. This collaboration between ROHM and Toshiba is poised to serve as a catalyst for expediting the collaboration of other Japanese firms.

Please note that this article cites information from the Japan TimesNikkei Asia, and Kyodo News.

(Image: ROHM)


[News] Current Investment and Financing Landscape in Chinese Semiconductor Industry

The semiconductor industry in China is gradually recovering in response to shifts in downstream demand in the end of November. This positive trend is reflected in the industry’s dynamics of investment and financing.

There have been nearly 40 financing events in the semiconductor industry. Sectors such as storage chips, MEMS, automotive-grade chips, third-generation semiconductors, and semiconductor materials/equipment are particularly attracting capital. Companies in the spotlight include SCY, Sinopack, YT Micro, Oritek, Analogysemi, Konsemi, and UniSiC.

SCY: Advancing Core Storage Technology 

Shenzhen-based SCY has successfully concluded Series B strategic financing, led by Xiaomi Industry Fund and joined by several upstream and downstream companies. The funds raised will be dedicated to enhancing core storage technology, research and development, furthering global strategies. SCY aims to establish its own storage brands, SCY and WeIC, in the terminal market. The company has achieved a breakthrough in the second-generation Flip Chip advanced packaging technology, with the full-scale production of its self-developed 512GB UFS3.1 storage chip. The expectation is to achieve mass production of 1TB capacity UFS3.1 next year.

Sinopack: Advancements in Ceramic Packaging 

Sinopack has completed Series B strategic financing, earmarking the capital for production line construction and research and development to stimulate the company’s second growth curve. Established in 2009, Sinopack focuses on ceramic packaging applied in optical communication, wireless communication, and other fields. The company has successfully developed precision ceramic components with core materials such as aluminum oxide and aluminum nitride. Sales revenue in the first half of 2023 has already surpassed the entire year of 2022.

YT Micro: Driving Automotive-grade Chip Innovation

Jiangsu-based YT Micro has successfully secured Series B1 round financing. The company specializes in automotive-grade chips design. With deep collaborations with numerous automotive OEMs  and automotive component companies, YT Micro has executed 300+ specified projects, resulting in millions of shipments. Future plans include increased investment in the research and development and mass production of high-performance automotive processor chips, expanding industrial ecological cooperation, and strengthening strategic business collaborations with OEMs and Tier1.

Oritek: Pioneering Intelligent Automotive Solutions

Oritek stands as China’s first provider focusing on the third generation of intelligent automotive E/E architecture. The company’s Longquan series chips cater to smart automotive terminal-side intelligent components, smart local processing unit, and integrated central computing units for parking and charging in 2023. The Longquan 560 chip was unveiled in 2023.

Analogysemi: Advancing Analog and Mixed-signal Chips

Founded in 2018, Analogysemi concentrates on analog and mixed-signal chips, applied across various markets like industrial, communication, medical, and automotive. The company has successfully entered the automotive electronics field, achieving mass production of products such as automotive-grade DC brushed motor drivers, widely used in automotive electronic components.

Konsemi: Elevating Embedded Storage Solutions

Established in November 2018, Konsemi focuses on the research and development of embedded storage controller chips and modules. It stands among the few Chinese manufacturers independently designing a complete range of embedded storage chips. With applications spanning smart TVs, set-top boxes, mobile devices, smart wearables, communication devices, drones, industrial robots, and new energy vehicles, Konsemi’s self-developed eMMC product has received certifications from mainstream manufacturers and is integrated into the supply chain of renowned brands, with sales reaching millions.

UniSiC: Leading in Power Semiconductor Device Testing

UniSiC has successfully concluded a billion-yuan strategic financing, earmarked for forward-looking product research and development and global expansion. Established in 2020, the company focuses on power semiconductor device testing and high-frequency power electronic applications. With successful developments in silicon carbide technology and securing multiple orders, UniSiC’s SiC ATE product has commenced overseas installations.


[Insights] Power Semiconductor Slowdown, China’s Shift to 12-Inch and IGBT

Power semiconductors, the key of energy conversion and circuit control in electronic devices, find themselves at the heart of electronic circuit functions such as power conversion, amplification, switching, and rectification. They play a pivotal role in various sectors like automotive, industrial, rail transportation, and electricity. As the new energy industry, led by solar energy and electric vehicles, advances, power semiconductors like IGBT and MOSFET emerge as key players in the realm of green energy.

The power semiconductor market, previously driven by the surge in the new energy sector, particularly in new energy vehicles, solar power, and energy storage, has experienced robust overall demand. China, being the global leader in both new energy vehicles and solar energy production, has significantly contributed to the strong demand for power semiconductors. However, the current trend indicates a slowdown in the power semiconductor market.

According to TrendForce’s latest report, titled “Power Semiconductor Deceleration, Chinese Companies Breaking Through in 12-inch Wafers and IGBT,” it shared a comprehensive analysis of China’s role in the development of the power semiconductor industry. The following highlights summarize the key points of this report:

1. Slowdown in Chinese Foundries due to Downturn in Consumer Electronics and Communication Sectors

In the first half of 2023, prominent Chinese foundries—SMIC, Hua Hong Semiconductor, Nexchip, and SMEC—encountered a slowdown in revenue growth. Among them, only Hua Hong witnessed a marginal revenue increase, while SMIC, Nexchip, and SMEC experienced YoY revenue declines of 19.29%, 50.43%, and 24.08%, respectively. The overall performance of Chinese wafer fabs is entering a downward cycle due to a sluggish market in consumer electronics, PCs, and communication.

2. IGBT Emerges as the Growth Driver Amidst Deceleration in the Power Semiconductor Market

Despite a comparative growth with digital ICs, the overall growth in the power semiconductor market is decelerating. Hua Hong’s revenue from discrete devices increased by 33.04% YoY in the first half of 2023, yet the growth rate is lower than that of the same period in 2022. The number of top-ten listed power semiconductor companies with negative revenue growth has expanded from one in 2022 to four, and those with negative net profit growth increased from one to eight.

While the overall growth is slowing, IGBT remains the driving force for power semiconductors. Companies like Silan and CR Micro have initiated mass production of IGBT, experiencing a rapid growth rate in the IGBT business. Additionally, Wingtech is making its foray into the IGBT sector. Notably, between January and July 2023, 17 IGBT projects were initiated or signed, with a cumulative investment exceeding CNY 15 billion, indicating a swift expansion by Chinese companies in the IGBT domain.

3. China’s Power Semiconductor Giants Scale Up from 8-Inch to 12-Inch

Major Chinese power semiconductor players are transitioning from 8-inch to 12-inch wafers. Notably, Hua Hong has already implemented 12-inch capacity, and the expansion of the Wuxi Phase 2 project is underway. SMIC’s third-phase 12-inch special process wafer line produced its initial 10,000 wafers in June 2023. In the IDM sector, companies like Wingtech, Silan, and CR Micro are actively constructing 12-inch wafer fabs, with some of the capacity already in operation.


[News] Infineon in GaN and SiC Expansion Drive Advancements in the New Energy Market

In recent years, the tech industry has pivoted around two keywords, low carbonization and digitization, marking significant areas of growth. Semiconductor companies are eagerly investing and acquiring ventures, particularly in response to the emerging new energy industry chain driven by the low-carbon trend.

At the recent Infineon OktoberTech™ event, David Poon, Senior Vice President and President of Greater China Region at Infineon, outlined the company’s ambitious goals. By the end of 2030, Infineon aims to secure a 30% market share in the SiC market, targeting an annual revenue exceeding USD 7.6 billion. As per a report from 21jingji, Infineon also holds a positive outlook on the overall market growth of third-generation semiconductors.

The current landscape sees widespread application of third-generation semiconductors like SiC and GaN in new energy vehicles, charging stations, energy storage, and other products. Major industry players are actively entering this dynamic market. As a dominant force in power semiconductors, Infineon not only announced SiC expansion plans earlier this year but also acquired GaN Systems in October.

Speaking of recent GaN acquisition, Poon expressed during an interview that the collaboration between the two companies would significantly propel Infineon’s development. They believe that GaN has reached a turning point, extending its applications beyond chargers to encompass diverse fields like energy storage, heralding a phase of substantial growth. A new round of competition is unfolding within the realms of the new energy field and the industrial ecosystem.

New Energy and Digitization as Growth Drivers

In terms of performance, Infineon achieved remarkable double-digit growth in the past year. According to the full-year financial report for the 2023 fiscal year (ending September 30, 2023), the company’s revenue reached USD 17.868 billion marking a 15% YoY increase, while profits surged by 30% to USD 4.819 billion.

Jochen Hanebeck, CEO of Infineon, acknowledged the company’s record-breaking revenue and profits in the 2023 fiscal year, despite acknowledging the persisting challenges in the operating environment.

On one hand, there’s a persistent structural growth momentum in renewable energy, electric vehicles (particularly in China), and the micro controller sector within the automotive industry. On the other hand, demand for applications in consumer goods, communications, computing, and the IoT is currently experiencing a temporary lull. Infineon anticipates continued revenue growth in the 2024 fiscal year, although the pace of growth is expected to moderate. The company is actively responding to market conditions, seizing opportunities for structural growth.

The new energy and digitization markets emerge as the new growth engines targeted by leading semiconductor companies like Infineon. With China at the forefront of the industry’s new landscape, Infineon is keen on tapping into new opportunities in the Chinese market.

In an interview, Poon remarked, “Looking at low carbonization, firstly, the growth in new energy vehicles is substantial. According to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), from January to September 2023, the production and sales of new energy vehicles reached 6.313 million and 6.278 million units, respectively, with YoY increases of 33.7% and 37.5%. The semiconductor value in an electric vehicle has increased by about USD 950 compared to a traditional fuel vehicle, making this a significant driving force.”

He further emphasized, “The amounts of domestic new energy vehicle shipments and exports are robust. Additionally, the proliferation of charging stations in the country indicates clear prospects for this market. In other areas of new energy, such as photovoltaics, wind power, and energy storage, these are also growth drivers we are closely monitoring.”

New energy vehicles and renewable energy have evolved into the foundational pillars of the burgeoning low-carbon mega-industry. Simultaneously, within the digitization market, Infineon offers solutions related to data centers. “Apart from data centers, in domains like smart factories, smart cities, and smart homes, we provide digitization and low-carbon solutions to enhance efficiency. Digitization serves as a significant driving force,” highlighted Poon.

SiC and GaN Operating in Tandem

In the current landscape of the new energy market, third-generation semiconductors such as SiC and GaN have gained significant traction. Taking the more mature development of SiC as an example, although it is still undergoing iterative development, it has found extensive applications in the automotive field, experiencing rapid growth.

TrendForce predicts that the SiC power component market in the automotive sector will witness substantial growth, from USD 1.09 billion in 2022 to USD 3.98 billion in 2026, with a compound annual growth rate of 38%.

Presently, SiC faces supply shortages, prompting major makers to scale up production. Infineon, for instance, has announced a substantial expansion of its Kulim wafer fab in Malaysia, aiming to establish the world’s largest 8-inch SiC power wafer fab. Poon noted that the first phase is slated to commence production in mid-next year, with the second phase scheduled for production in 2027. This expansion is driven by the broad market demand for SiC across applications like AI, automotive, and new energy photovoltaics.

As per TrendForce, the collective market size of SiC power components in 2023 reached USD 2.28 billion, witnessing a notable 41.4% YoY growth. Projections suggest that by 2026, the SiC power component market could reach an impressive USD 5.33 billion, with the automotive sector’s SiC power component market poised to surge to USD 3.94 billion.

Besides Infineon, major players like Wolfspeed and STMicroelectronics are actively bolstering their production capacities. In June this year, STMicroelectronics announced plans to establish an 8-inch SiC device manufacturing joint venture with Sanan Optoelectronic in China. The commencement of production is anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2025, with full completion scheduled for 2028, involving a total construction cost of approximately USD 3.2 billion. Wolfspeed, in collaboration with the German automotive giant ZF Group, not only established a joint innovation laboratory for SiC but is also in the process of constructing a SiC device factory in Germany.

According to TrendForce, The GaN market is primarily propelled by consumer electronics, with a core emphasis on fast charging. Other consumer applications include audio, wireless charging, power, and consumer products. However, many companies have already shifted their focus to industrial markets such as data centers, renewable energy, and the new energy vehicle market, with numerous companies persistently conducting R&D in this direction.”

Overall, semiconductor giants are strategically navigating both SiC and GaN, intensifying efforts in the realm of third-generation semiconductors and fortifying a more comprehensive industrial chain.
(Image: Infineon)

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