SiC substrates


[News] Wolfspeed Completes RF Business Sale to MACOM, Focusing on SiC Substrate Leadership

SiC industry giant Wolfspeed issued a press release on December 4th, formally selling its radio frequency business (Wolfspeed RF).

Back to August 22nd of this year, Wolfspeed had announced the sale of Wolfspeed RF to the U.S. semiconductor company MACOM Technology Solutions Holdings, Inc.

Under the transaction terms, Wolfspeed received approximately USD 75 million in cash, subject to a customary purchase price adjustment, and 711,528 shares of MACOM common stock, which shares had a market value of approximately USD 60.8 million based on the closing price for MACOM’s common stock on December 1st, 2023 as reported on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

MACOM specializes in designing and producing high-performance semiconductor products. Their product range spans radio frequency, microwave, analog and mixed-signal, and optical semiconductor technologies, catering to industries such as telecommunications, industrial applications, defense, and data centers. Headquartered in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA, MACOM’s business footprint extends across the United States, Europe, Asia, and beyond. With the successful completion of this business acquisition, the company’s impact in the radio frequency domain is poised to experience notable reinforcement.

President of CEO of Wolfspeed Gregg Lowe said, “The completed sale of Wolfspeed RF is the final step in our transformation, and we’re happy to say Wolfspeed is now the only pure-play silicon carbide semiconductor manufacturer in the industry. As demand continues to accelerate across the automotive, industrial and renewable energy markets, we can now focus on innovation and capacity for our materials and power device businesses.”

TrendForce reveals a future landscape for the SiC power device market, projected to reach USD 5.33 billion by 2026, driven by robust demand in downstream applications, particularly in electric vehicles and renewable energy. Despite this positive outlook, the SiC industry faces constraints due to supply issues in SiC substrates.

Wolfspeed’s recent decision to divest its radio frequency business further underscores the company’s commitment to maintaining a leading role in the SiC substrate market, where it currently stands as the sole producer capable of mass-producing 8-inch SiC substrates.

Current situation of the SiC substrate industry         

Considering the SiC substrate industry dominated by few players, Wolfspeed stands out as a notable example. More and more companies are opting to enhance their production capacity for high-quality SiC substrates used in automotive main inverters.

The SiC substrate industry is actively addressing challenges of low demands and high cost, making various companies to expand from 6-inch to 8-inch SiC substrates. While Wolfspeed is ahead in the production of 8-inch SiC substrates, other industry leaders are also making notable progress:

Moreover, several Chinese companies, including SEMISiC, Jingsheng, Summit Crystal, Synlight, KY Semiconductor, and IV-SemiteC, are actively advancing the development of 8-inch SiC substrates, contributing to the overall progress in the SiC substrate industry.

Wolfspeed’s Optimism Amid Industry Upgrades

In the face of industry upgrades and competitive pressures, Wolfspeed’s leadership remains optimistic. Looking into its result in second quarter of fiscal 2024, Wolfspeed targets revenue from continuing operations in a range of USD 192 million to USD 222 million. GAAP net loss from continuing operations is targeted at USD 131 million to USD 153 million. Non-GAAP net loss from continuing operations is targeted to be in a range of USD 71 million to USD 88 million. Based on the result, Wolfspeed aim to meet 20% utilization goal at the Mohawk Valley Fab in next quarter. The company predicts the revenue of the fab will rise from USD 4 million to USD 10~15 million. The third quarter revenue will grow significantly as well.

Being the only front runner in the global market solely dedicated to SiC business, Wolfspeed can channel all its focus and resources into SiC materials and power device operations. As Wolfspeed enhances the capacity of its fabs, there is potential for a further increase in its market share for SiC materials and power devices. In response to this evolving landscape, other companies are likely to expedite the research and production of 8-inch SiC substrates, aiming to enhance their market presence and actively contribute to the overall advancement of the SiC industry chain.
(Image: Wolfspeed, MACOM)

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[News] China Jingsheng Launches 2.1 Billion CNY SiC Substrate Project Marks Significant Investment

On November 4th, the “Annual Production of 250k 6-inch and 50k 8-inch SiC Substrate Project” was officially initiated by China Jingsheng Mechanical & Electrical Co., Ltd. (JSG). It is driven by the objective of advancing crucial core technologies in semiconductor material development, ultimately leading to the establishment of a domestically produced alternative for China.

The total investment for this agreement reached an impressive 2.1 billion CNY. During the launch ceremony, Dr. Jianwei Cao, Chairman of JSG, underscored the pivotal role of this project in the company’s growth strategy.

JSG, founded in 2006 and headquartered in Zhejiang, China, made its debut on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2012. The company specializes in developing essential semiconductor materials, including silicon, sapphire, and SiC. It provides equipment and services to the semiconductor and photovoltaic industries.

Since 2017, JSG has been deeply engaged in SiC ingot growth equipment and process development, achieving the successful production of 6-inch and 8-inch SiC ingots and substrates. The company is among the select few capable of supplying 8-inch substrates in China. They have successfully established a pilot line for the growth, slicing, and polishing of 6-8-inch SiC ingots. The 6-inch substrates have received validation from several downstream companies and are rapidly progressing, while the 8-inch substrates are in the small-scale trial production phase.SiC, as an iconic material for third-generation semiconductors, is renowned for its outstanding physical properties, rendering it suitable for various applications such as new energy vehicles, photovoltaic energy storage, data centers, 5G communication, and ultra-high-voltage (UHV). In recent years, there has been a sustained surge in demand for SiC due to its remarkable properties. However, the widespread commercialization of SiC has been hampered by cost-related challenges.

A cost analysis of the SiC industry reveals that substrate expenses account for approximately 40% of the overall costs, making it a pivotal aspect of cost reduction. The interest of leading companies in large-sized substrates is attributed to their higher utilization rates, contributing significantly to cost reduction.

GlobalWafers, the world’s third-largest silicon wafer manufacturer, plans to embark on large-scale production of advanced SiC substrates in 2025 to meet the surging demand for power semiconductors in the automotive sector. Doris Hsu, Chairman and CEO of GlobalWafers, recently announced that the company is set to commence qualification and test production of 8-inch SiC substrates in the upcoming year, with large-scale production slated for 2025.

On the other hand, SICC, a company also engaged in SiC substrates development, has expedited its capacity expansion in Shanghai Lin-gang Special Area, augmenting the production capacity for conductive substrates since 2022. They have been delivering products since May this year and anticipate a further rise in production capacity during the fourth quarter of 2023. The company is poised to achieve mass production ahead of schedule for the first-phase 300,000-piece capacity and has initiated plans for the second-phase 960,000-piece capacity for 6-inch SiC ingot.

While 6-inch conductive SiC substrate products dominate the market, 8-inch substrates are yet to become ubiquitous. However, SICC announced the development of high-quality 8-inch substrates in 2022. The company is now equipped for mass production of 8-inch products. Notably, during the 2023 Semicon, Dr. Chao Gao, CTO of SICC, disclosed the successful creation of low-defect-density 8-inch ingots using a liquid-phase method.

(Image: SICC)

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