[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] 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] Latest Updates on Five Semiconductor Companies Projects in China

Advancements continue in China’s semiconductor landscape with progress reported in five major semiconductor projects. Companies like BYD Semiconductor, Empyrean Technology, CGEE, Sinopack, and CETC (Shanxi) have witnessed recent developments across semiconductor materials, design, packaging and testing, and power semiconductors.

BYD Semiconductor: completed the first phase of power devices and sensor controller project

BYD Semiconductor has successfully completed the first phase of its Power Devices and Sensor Controller project, focusing on automotive-grade semiconductors. This project aims to establish a production line capable of producing 720,000 power device products and CNY 6 billion (about USD 847 million) sets of optical microelectronics products annually, contributing to an expected annual output value of CNY 15 billion (about USD 2.1 billion). The devices produced are critical components for new energy vehicles.

Empyrean Technology: 7 semiconductor-related projects signed to build in Xi’an

Empyrean Technology is an EDA and services provider, focusing on analog design and digital SoC solution.

Empyrean Technology’s Xi’an R&D base, along with six other projects, has been signed in Xi’an High-tech Zone. Empyrean Technology envisions its Xi’an R&D base as the largest center in northwest China. According to CCTV, these projects included fields such as integrated circuits and network security, providing essential technical support to address challenges arising from the U.S. bans.

CGEE: completed headquarters production and R&D center project

CGEE specialize in semiconductor-grade single crystal silicon furnaces (8-12 inches), 6-8 inch SiC, GaN, and associated crystal growth equipment and processes.

On November 28, CGEE highlighted the completion of the opening ceremony for its headquarters production and R&D center project. Focused on expanding production capacity, the company clarified that this project is an extension of its core business. It involves technical research, development, and upgrades in crystal growth equipment and processes, hastening the industrialization of research outcomes. This strategic move aims to assist the company in diversifying its product line to better align with customer demands.

In a recent interview, CGEE highlighted its proactive approach to enter the Taiwan market, engaging in close technical exchanges with customers. The company has not only secured bulk orders but also witnessed a continuous increase in order quantities. Furthermore, there is an active strategic deployment in overseas markets. CGEE emphasized the successful delivery and acceptance of its semiconductor-grade single crystal silicon furnaces and SiC single crystal furnaces in Taiwan.

Sinopack’s subsidiary Bowei: completed third-generation semiconductor power device industrialization project

Bowei focus on GaN communication base station RF device. The project’s annual capacity is planned to reach 6 million units.

On November 27, Sinopack announced that its subsidiary, Bowei, has successfully completed the expansion project for the third-generation semiconductor power device industrialization. The key products of this project include GaN communication base station RF chips and devices, with an annual production capacity planned at 6 million units.

Sinopack highlighted that Bowei primarily engages in integrated circuits design, packaging, testing, and sale of GaN communication RF integrated circuits products. This includes including GaN communication base station RF integrated circuits and devices, along with microwave communication RF integrated circuits and devices.

CETC (Shanxi): Completed Its third-generation semiconductor technology innovation center project

CETC(Shanxi) engage in the research, development, and industrialization of high-purity graphite and carbon-based material equipment.

The third-generation semiconductor technology innovation center of CETC (Shanxi) is situated in the Shanxi Transformation and Comprehensive Reform Demonstration Zone (Shanxi ZGQ). This center includes the trial verification line and supporting projects, along with the microelectronics smart manufacturing industry base project. The construction is planned in two phases. Upon completion of the first phase, it will possess the capacity to produce 600 units/sets of smart manufacturing equipment annually, along with 24,000 pieces/year of ceramic substrates and modular circuits. The facility will also establish a 6-inch wide bandgap semiconductor manufacturing equipment process verification platform and a common technology research and development platform.
(Image: BYD Semiconductor)


[News] STMicroelectronics to Invest EUR 5 Billion in New SiC Wafer Fab

STMicroelectronics, following its EUR 7.5 billion wafer fab project with GlobalFoundries in Crolles, France. is set to invest EUR 5 billion in building a new SiC super semiconductor wafer fab in Catania, Sicily, Italy. The fab in Italy will specialize in producing SiC chips, a pivotal technology for electric vehicles with substantial growth potential, according to French media L’Usine Nouvelle on November 26th,

STMicroelectronics competitively plans to transition to 8-inch wafers starting from 2024. The company will integrate Soitec’s SmartSiC technology to enhance efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. Simultaneously, STMicroelectronics aims to increase capacity, achieve internal manufacturing, and collaborate with Chinese firm Sanan Optoelectronics to raise SiC chip-related revenue from the expected USD 1.2 billion in 2023 to USD 5 billion by 2030.

On June 7th earlier this year, STMicroelectronics and Sanan Optoelectronics announced a joint venture to establish a new 8-inch SiC device fab in Chongqing, China, with an anticipated total investment of USD 3.2 billion.

To ensure the successful implementation of this extensive investment plan, Sanan Optoelectronics said to utilize its self-developed SiC substrate process to construct and operate a new 8-inch SiC substrate fab independently.

TrendForce: over 90% SiC market share by major global players        

According to TrendForce, the SiC industry is currently dominated by 6-inch substrates, holding up to 80% market share, while 8-inch substrates only account for 1%. Transitioning to larger 8-inch substrates is a key strategy for further reducing SiC device costs.

8-inch SiC substrates offer significant cost advantages than 6-inch substrates. The industry’s major players in China, including SEMISiC, Jingsheng Mechanical & Electrical Co., Ltd. (JSG), Summit Crystal, Synlight Semiconductor, KY Semiconductor, and IV-SemiteC, are advancing the development of 8-inch SiC substrates. This shift from the approximately 45% of total production costs associated with substrates is expected to facilitate the broader adoption of SiC devices and create a positive cycle for major companies.

Not only Chinese companies but also international semiconductor giants like Infineon Technologies and Onsemi are actively vying for a share of the market. Infineon has already prepared the first batch of 8-inch wafer samples in its fab and plans to convert them into electronic samples soon, with mass production applications scheduled before 2030. International device companies like Onsemi and ROHM have also outlined development plans for 8-inch SiC wafers.

Currently, major companies hold over 90% of the market share, intensifying competition. A slowdown in progress could provide opportunities for followers. According to TrendForce, the market share of the top 5 SiC power semiconductor players in 2022 was dominated by STMicroelectronics (36.5%), Infineon (17.9%), Wolfspeed (16.3%), Onsemi (11.6%), and ROHM (8.1%), leaving the remaining companies with only 9.6%.

(Image: STMicroelectronics)

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[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.

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