300mm fabs, a new dream for the power electronics manufacturers

At Yole Développement (Yole) and System Plus Consulting, a large part of our activities is dedicated to the power electronics industry. Our analysts have seen lot of changes in this industry this year again and those changes have conducted to the emergence of a new era.

Boosted by electrification trends in transportation, CO2 emission reduction goals, the development of clean electricity sources and industrialization… the power electronics industry is experiencing a shift in its dynamics. The shift comes from the increase of demand predicted for coming years, which translates into a move for 300mm waferbased production… Ana Villamor, Technology & Market Analyst, Power Electronics & Compound Semiconductors at Yole and Elena Barbarini, Head of of Department Devices at System Plus Consulting reveal the details of this story and point out the status of the industry. Who is leading the power electronics industry today? How will power electronics companies implement those changes to answer to the market evolution? What are their strategies? What will be the impact of the 300mm move on the power electronics industry and its supply chain? Ana Villamor and Elena Barbarini offer you today their technology & market analysis.

The power electronics market reached US$53.4 billion for power inverters in 2018, and US$17.5 billion for power semiconductor devices. When looking at the device level, the biggest market for discrete parts is for MOSFETs. However the most impressive growth is really focused on higher power applications with IGBTs or SiC MOSFET. Both components allow the power electronics companies to reach high power with high efficiency. This translates into a continuous increase in IGBT and MOSFET sales, with 3.7% and 4.6% CAGR between 2018 and 2024, respectively. The growth in MOSFET already takes into account SiC penetration in the coming years, with a big push in the EV segment.

In parallel the power module packaging material market will show a 7.8% CAGR between 2018 and 2024, reaching the US$2.17 billion business opportunity by 2024 and representing more than one-third of the overall power module market. As shown in several examples in Automotive Power Module Packaging Comparison 2018 report from System Plus Consulting, the power module technology have been reshaped to reach high performance and to pass all the strict qualification automotive tests.

Market figures and trends are coming from both Yole’s reports, Status of the Power Electronics Industry and Status of the Power Module Packaging Industry. These technology & market analyses are delivering an up-to-date comprehensive overview of the current technical challenges and market issues taken place within the power electronics industry today. They point out the attractiveness of the power electronics and the huge potential of technical innovations and business development.

The expected increase in the CAGR of IGBTs during the coming years is pushing the main manufacturers for huge investments in manufacturing lines. Indeed, some of the big players are preparing for 300mm production to make profit in this growing market, led by the electric vehicle market demand. As of today, many power electronics players have announced investments in new fabrication capabilities, to be in production from 2021.

Infineon has invested US$1.9 billion in Villach to build a second fab for power devices on 300mm wafers. Their first 300mm fab in Dresden is already automotive qualified, which might make Infineon the first to increase volumes in automotive qualified products by shifting their major automotive production to Dresden. STMicroelectronics has also started the expansion of its Agrate site for 300mm production, for Bipolar CMOS-DMOS, Power MOSFETs and IGBTs, but as with all the other manufacturers it will have to spend some time in qualification of the fab for automotive products. Another example is Bosch, which has also started building its 300mm fab in Dresden, preparing for the imminent increase in volumes for both automotive and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Chinese players have also started the expansion to 300mm, like Silan Microelectronics or GTA Semiconductors, the latter having confirmed that it is working on its automotive-grade IGBT production line.

A concern with these moves might be the equipment delivery time. This is one of the reasons why players such as ON Semiconductor and Diodes Inc have acquired an existing fab to increase volume. Such acquisitions also require lower investments. The ramp up for production for ON Semiconductor in Global Foundries’s fab will therefore be as from 2020 with advanced CMOS technology. Once that transition is completed in 2022, the equipment can be used for a possible ramp up in power devices, depending on demand, as the equipment will already be established.

In fact, moving from a 200mm to 300mm manufacturing line is not only mandatory when moving to a new technology node as the new equipment is available at the higher wafer size, but is a strategic choice from a manufacturing cost point of view. Firstly, in terms of potential good dies per wafer, increasing the wafer surface allows the decrease of losses, especially due to scribe line and border area losses. Secondly, the cost of equipment and cleanroom space is not proportional to the wafer size. The cost of a piece of equipment can be considered as the sum of the base tool and the different chambers: when moving from a 200mm to a 300mm tool, in the majority of cases the base tool cost, which is the higher cost, has a minimal increase, while the cost of the chambers varies slightly or is even unchanged thanks to the use of frames. Thus, also taking in account the increased throughput, the impact of equipment cost on the final wafer is often negligible. As to the labor cost, the new equipment is often more automatized than the old, and this allows a saving of labor cost especially in lines which require a strong human control or in highly developed countries. In the material cost analysis, obviously the substrate cost is more expensive for 300mm, but the increase is not linear. Moreover, even if more material is required, considering both fixed and variable consumables, for a bigger wafer we will pay more, but this extra cost will be split over an increased number of dies. To conclude, Yole has estimated that on average, to manufacture a standard IGBT on a 300mm wafer power electronics players will pay 30% more in production, but their die cost will be more than 35% cheaper.

To sum up, the automotive market is driving a re-shaping of the power electronics industry, with the implementation of 300mm fabs for an increase in production together with technology improvements for better performance and efficiency of the power modules.

Yole’s power electronics & compound semiconductors team investigate all years long the industry to identify the latest moves, analyze the technical innovations and the impact on the industry structure. The next TechDay, “EV/HEV Cost vs. Performance Trade-off: A Battle on Multiple Fronts For Power Electronics” taken place in Stuttgart, Germany on December 12 will be a powerful opportunity to exchange and debate about the technology & market trends. Analysts invite you to discover the program and register today!

About the authors

Ana Villamor, PhD serves as a Technology & Market Analyst, Power Electronics & Compound Semiconductors within the Power & Wireless division at Yole Développement (Yole). She is involved in many custom studies and reports focused on emerging power electronics technologies at Yole Développement, including device technology and reliability analysis (MOSFET, IGBT, HEMT, etc). In addition, Ana is leading the quarterly power management market updates released in 2017.
Previously Ana was involved in a high-added value collaboration related to SJ Power MOSFETs, within the CNM research center for the leading power electronic company ON Semiconductor. During this partnership and after two years as Silicon Development Engineer, she acquired a relevant technical expertise and a deep knowledge of the power electronic industry.
Ana is author and co-author of several papers as well as a patent. She holds an Electronics Engineering degree completed by a Master and PhD. in micro and nano electronics from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (SP).

As Head of Department Devices at System Plus Consulting, Elena Barbarini, PhD. oversees reverse technology and costing analyses for MEMS, IC, RF and Power Semiconductors. She has in-depth knowledge of the Electronics R&D and Manufacturing environment. Elena holds a Master in Micro and Nanotechnologies and a PhD in Power Electronics.

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Status of the Power Electronics Industry 2019
Long term growth of the power electronics market is driving 300mm wafer-based production.

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