Episil, a pioneer in SiC foundry services for power electronics applications – An interview with Yole Développement

“In 2018, we are confident that the SiC market is going to grow,” says Hong Lin, PhD, Senior Technology & Market Analyst, Power Electronics at Yole Développement (Yole). The Power SiC 2018: Materials, Devices and Applications report published by Yole’s Power & Wireless team, forecasts the SiC power market will be worth more than $1.5B by 2023 with a 31% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) between 2017 and 2023. The SiC market is very dynamic and attracts lots of attention from industrial companies. This trend is today demonstrated by increasing patent activity, detailed in the new Power SiC: MOSFETs, SBDs and Modules 2019 patent landscape analysis powered by Knowmade, part of the Yole Group of Companies.

Questions today are more focused on market growth for the next five years and the related supply chain. Is the supply chain ready to support the market acceleration? To support market demand, leading Integrated Device Manufacturers (IDMs) are increasing their production and the foundry model is developing.

Based in Taiwan, Episil Technologies is one of the pioneers in SiC power foundry services. Hong Lin, PhD, Senior Technology & Market Analyst, Compound Semiconductors & Emerging Materials at Yole had the opportunity to meet Andy Chuang/莊淵棋, President/總經理, Episil Technologies Inc./漢磊科技股份有限公司. Together, both these experts discussed this market’s evolution and technical innovations. Yole invites you to read their discussion.

 

Hong Lin (HL): Can you briefly introduce Episil Technologies Inc, its services, its history and current activities to i-micronews.com’s readers?

Andy Chuang (AC):  Episil Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of Episil Holdings, is a Taiwan-based foundry founded in 1985. In the 1990s, the company began offering foundry services for silicon-based power devices. The company continuously expanded its production capacity and now owns three wafer fabs, providing services for both silicon and Wide Band Gap (WBG) processes including Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN).

HL: Can you tell our readers what Episil’s involvement in the WBG market is? Why did Episil decide to enter the WBG business?

AC: About ten years ago, the competition in the silicon market was getting more and more intense. The group decided to adopt the ‘blue ocean’ strategy and enter a business for the future with less competition at that time. The company was visionary and saw the market potential of the WBG business. Since then, Episil Technologies Inc. has had full support from its shareholders and the Episil group.


HL: What is Episil’s SiC product portfolio? What is the related roadmap for the next five years?

AC: Episil has done WBG production since 2015. We now offer 4” SiC foundry services for 600V-1200V Schottky Barrier Diodes (SBD) and MOSFETs and are establishing a 6” SiC line, which can be ready for customer pilot production in the second half of 2019.

sic power device markt revenue split applications yole power sic jan2019

(Source: Power SiC 2018: Materials, Devices and Applications report, Yole Développement, July 2018)

 

HL: Can you also introduce Episil’s GaN activities? Can you detail the related roadmap as well for the same period?

AC: Episil has developed its GaN process with a market leader in US and also provides GaN foundry services for other companies. Episil is currently focusing on power products.


HL: What is the key selling point of Episil for SiC foundry services?

AC: Episil has a proven record in terms of customer numbers and product numbers. Our SBD/Junction Barrier Schottky (JBS) platform can achieve very promising yields, beyond 95%. Meanwhile, Episil can commit to providing customers with cycle times for SiC device manufacturing of one month for SBD and two months for MOSFETs, which is very competitive. In addition, all customers can get a one-stop shop service at Episil. We provide SiC epitaxy, device manufacturing, backside grinding, backside metallization with laser annealing, and chip probe testing. Both 4” and 6” SiC foundry services are available at Episil. Customers can choose the one that best fits their own demand.


HL: What, in your opinion, is the added-value of SiC and GaN technologies developed by Episil?

AC: At Episil, our partners can get one-stop shop service. We offer epitaxy, front end and back end services, which is highly appreciated by our partners. Also, our services are of high quality, for example, our back side grinding for SiC can thin wafers down to 4 mil (100 µm).


HL: Knowmade, part of the Yole Group of Companies, releases a new patent landscape analysis focused on SiC devices this week. In this new report, Knowmade’s analysts did not identify significant patent activity from Episil Technologies Inc. Could you please comment on this result? Could you describe Episil’s intellectual property strategy to our readers? Is Episil working under licensing agreement for example?

AC: As a foundry service provider, our focus is on the process. We offer a universal common process to our partners that does not have patent issues. When the device structure is patented, our partners bring their patents and we develop the process for them.

key IP players SiC MOSFETs SBDs power modules Knowmade yole jan2019

(Source: Power SiC: MOSFETs, SBDs and Modules 2019 report – Patent Landscape Analysis, KnowMade, January 2019)


HL: How will the WBG market evolve, especially the SiC and the GaN market segments?

AC: We see clear changes in 2017-2018. We now have a long list of clients for SiC activities with more than 45 clients engaged and more than 300 products. We have no doubt that the market is taking off.


HL: Episil is automotive qualified. All three fabs have 16949 certifications. Automotive is one of the most important drivers of the power electronics market. What will be the role of WBG technologies in this market? And what is the time to market, especially for SiC and GaN solutions?

AC: We see SiC playing an important role in Electric Vehicles (EVs). In particular, Chinese automotive players are very active and will adopt SiC in their EVs.


HL: What are your next steps for WBG activities?

AC: We are developing 1700V SiC SBD, and also developing a SiC trench MOSFET process. We are establishing our 6” SiC line now, and it will be ready for customer pilot runs in the second half of 2019. On the GaN side, we continue to upgrade our process for a new generation of GaN products. This is not only in GaN discrete devices; we also jointly developed a GaN Integrated Circuit (IC) platform with a customer, and are migrating to next generation technology to be even more competitive.

 

Interviewee:

andy chuang episil jan2019 yole circleAndy Chuang is currently President of Episil Technologies Inc. in Taiwan. Prior to Episil, he was vice president of CSMC at Wuxi, Jiangsu, China. He received his M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from National Tsinghua University, Taiwan. After graduating, he joined UMC R&D to start his professional career. Gradually this involved sales, handling business including moving to Europe to work with a key customer. His UMC career gave him complete training and valuable experience of the wafer business and supply chain. After UMC, he worked for a year for Electronic Design Automation vendor, Synopsys, which completed his knowledge of chip design flow. Then he joined CSMC as Vice-President with responsibility for marketing and sales. Local Chinese experience helped him build strong connections and relationships in the China market. He combines wafer manufacturing and with marketing and sales, which makes him knowledgeable in semiconductor industry.

 

 Interviewer:

Photo HongLin YOLE 2018

Hong Lin, PhD works at Yole Développement (Yole), as a Senior Technology and Market Analyst, Compound Semiconductors within the Power & Wireless division since 2013. She is specialized in compound semiconductors and provides technical and economic analysis. Before joining Yole Développement, she worked as R&D engineer at Newstep Technologies. She was in charge of the development of cold cathodes by PECVD for visible and UV lamp applications based on nanotechnologies. She holds a Ph.D in Physics and Chemistry of materials.

 

 

 Sources:   Yole Développement  –   EPISIL logo jan2019 yole

 

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