Demand for telecom base stations, converters, and charging stations has seen considerable growth this year as a result of ongoing developments in 5G telecommunication, consumer electronics, industrial energy conversion, and new energy vehicles (NEV), according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. While this demand generated a corresponding surge in demand for components and devices powered by third-generation semiconductors GaN and SiC, the GaN power devices market is expected to undergo the highest magnitude of growth. TrendForce expects GaN power devices revenue for 2021 to reach US$83 million, an impressive 73% YoY increase.
According to TrendForce’s investigations, GaN power devices are primarily used in consumer electronics; annual GaN power devices revenue is expected to grow at a 78% CAGR and reach US$850 million in 2025. Regarding applications, consumer electronics, NEVs, and telecom/data centers, in order, comprise the three largest sources of GaN power devices consumption, at 60%, 20%, and 15%, respectively. TrendForce finds that about 10 smartphone OEMs have released more than 18 models of smartphones equipped with fast charging capability, while notebook manufacturers are also indicating a willingness to adopt fast charging for notebook computers.
Annual SiC revenue, on the other hand, is expected to grow at a 38% CAGR and reach US$3.39 billion in 2025, with NEVs, solar power generation/storage, and charging stations representing the top three largest source of SiC power device consumption, at 61%, 13%, and 9%, respectively. For the NEV industry, in particular, SiC power devices are most widely used in powertrain inverters, OBCs (on board chargers), and DC-DC converters.
Major IDMs from Europe, the US, and Japan still control the vast majority of substrate supply
Due to their relative difficulty in epitaxial growth and the fact that the industry is moving from 6-inch towards 8-inch substrates as the mainstream, third-generation semiconductor GaN and SiC substrates are 5-20 times more expensive to manufacture compared to traditional 8-inch and 12-inch Si substrates. It should be noted that most substrate materials are, at the moment, controlled by such major IDMs as US-based Cree and II-VI, Japan-based Rohm, and Europe-based STMicroelectronics. In response to this oligopoly, certain Chinese suppliers, including SICC and Tankeblue, have successively entered the substrate market with the support of China’s 14th five-year plan. Their participation will likely accelerate China’s goal of semiconductor self-sufficiency.
Although substrate suppliers from Europe, the US, and Japan enjoy an early presence in the market and possess relatively mature process technologies, TrendForce believes that Taiwanese suppliers still hold certain competitive advantages. For instance, not only do Taiwanese companies have vast experiences in silicon development, but Taiwan is also home to a comprehensive upstream/downstream silicon supply chain. In addition to these aforementioned advantages, Taiwan is further aided by policies that promote domestic material supply, design, and technological development. Taiwan is therefore well on its way to achieving its goal of becoming a center of advanced semiconductor fabrication that derives its strength from a gradually maturing front-end substrate and epitaxy industry chain, as well as mid- and back-end competencies in chip design, manufacturing, and packaging. Currently, two major strategic alliances, led by Hermes-Epitek (with subsidiaries EPI and EPISIL), and SAS (with subsidiaries GW, AWSC, CWT, and ATC) are attempting to maximize their efforts in Taiwan’s lacking substrate industry. Furthermore, TAISIC, jointly funded by KENMEC and TAINERGY, has submitted 4-inch SiC substrates for qualification and is actively investing in 6-inch SiC substrate R&D.
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