Power electronics, a market boosted by xEV, industrial and telecom during COVID-19 times – An interview with ON Semiconductor

It is not surprising that the last year has been filled with anxiety for power semiconductor players as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the market and supply chain. However, even though we are living in difficult times in some segments such as automotive, the global power electronics market was still worth about $17.8B in 2020. As shown in the Status of Power Electronics Industry 2020 report performed by Yole Développement the power electronics market is expected to reach $22.7B by 2025, with xEV being one of the driving forces of the power market, driven by very aggressive targets for the coming years by the major countries world-wide. Moreover, we cannot ignore big revenue applications such as Industrial applications (being automatized-electrified) or Telecom applications, both of which were pushed during the pandemic.

Today, Ana Villamor, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole Développement (Yole) interviews Ali Husain, Senior Manager for Strategy and Corporate Marketing at ON Semiconductor, one of the global semiconductor leaders, to know more about their products and the future trends for power electronics.

Ana Villamor (AV): Please briefly introduce yourself and your activities at ON Semiconductor to i-micronews.com’s readers?

Ali Husain (AH): I am Ali Husain, Senior Manager for Strategy and Corporate Marketing.  I focus on power electronics and industrial systems.

AV: Can you tell us what the main power electronics products developed by ON Semiconductor are?

AH: ON Semiconductor develops the full range of power electronics products; our solutions range from Watts to 10’s of kiloWatts, from low voltage to grid voltage, from discrete devices to highly integrated modules, from diodes and power switches to controllers, drivers and protections, and from traditional Silicon to new Wide Band Gap devices.  ON Semiconductor’s product portfolio can address nearly every application or topology.

Courtesy of ON Semiconductor, 2021

AV: What is the added value of ON Semiconductor’s products?

AH: ON Semiconductor’s power electronics have best-in-class efficiency, with different versions that trade off switching loss and conductor loss in order to optimize for a variety of power conversion requirements.

AV: Which are the main applications that ON Semiconductor will be targeting in the coming years to ensure the success of the power semiconductor division?

AH: Automotive markets are the biggest long-term market for power electronic market growth.  ON Semiconductor has solutions for traction inverters, OBCs, DC-DC conversion and auxiliary motors for the electrification of the automobile (for both 48V and high voltage systems covering MHEV, PHEV, BEV and FCEV).  ON Semiconductor is also highly focused on Industrial markets, where there is strong adoption of power electronics into automation, robotics and energy generation and storage.  The other markets that we are targeting is Cloud and Telecom power, which have been growing faster during this pandemic period.

AV: What has been the impact on power semiconductor market of the COVID-19 crisis? In this context, do you see the supply chain reshaping in this industry?

AH: The pandemic has brought challenges and opportunities for power semiconductors.  There is already greater demand for Cloud power solutions, and there will be increased demand for robotics and factory automation as all companies harden and add redundancy to their supply chains.

AV: What impact do you see especially from the EV market on the different activities of ON Semiconductor?

AH: The EV market will drive new solutions for low weight and high efficiency at all power conversion points.  These requirements have been driving innovation within ON Semiconductor for several years and will continue to do so for many years in the future.  One example is our single and double side cooled traction inverter modules.  We worked closely with the cooling system design in order to create compact, efficient and easy-to-use solutions for traction drive.

Courtesy of ON Semiconductor, 2021

AV: Can you share with us the related roadmap for the next five years for ON Semiconductor’s EV products?

AH: Vehicle electrification is one of ON Semiconductor’s focus investment areas in automotive. We are developing solutions to help consumers spend less time charging and more time driving their vehicle. We are addressing these needs by releasing one of the most extensive and complete portfolio of power solutions for EV covering all needs for Traction Inverters, OBC, DC-DC and HV Auxiliary Applications using a 400V or 800V battery. For example, we will be extending our VE-TRACTM family of traction inverter power modules with more than 15 new part numbers in the next 18 months covering applications from 80 to 250+kW in 400V or 800V battery systems with IGBTs and SiC MOSFETs.

AV: At Yole, analysts see several changes in the supply chain for EV manufacturing: OEMs encroaching on Tier1s for the power module and making the inverter themselves, and discrete players jumping into module assembly. How does this impact leading semiconductor manufacturers, such as ON Semiconductor?

AH: ON Semiconductor’s wide portfolio of power solutions can address the needs arising from this industry transformation. ON Semiconductor is not only offering products but also tools to help application engineers achieve their design targets. Simulation models and application support are only a couple of examples of these tools. Our extensive portfolios allow the customer to develop a scalable solution that can cover wide application ranges. So, regardless if the design customer is moving away from a Tier1 towards an OEM, ON Semiconductor can support every player’s needs with a wafer, discrete or integrated solution.

AV: There have been several announcements relating to the use of 300mm production line for power electronics. Yole is aware of the transfer of NY 300mm fab from GlobalFoundries to ON Semiconductor and the announcement of the sale of two 200mm fabs. It seems that everything is ready for big production changes in throughput.

How do you see production evolving in power electronics components in the coming 5 years?

AH: Power electronics demand will continue to grow as automobiles, the electric grid and climate control become more electrified.  Increased wafer size will be key to meeting this demand and keeping parts cost effective for new applications.

Another trend for the next 5 years and beyond will be packaging innovation and greater integration, especially for WBG materials.

AV: What short-term and long-term impacts do you foresee in the semiconductor industry from the push in China for local power semiconductor manufacturing?

AH: There will be price pressure on all non-China producers in order to maintain market share.  Existing power device vendors will need to differentiate themselves with quality, reliability, delivery and support.

AV: What is the status of the technology for Wide Band Gap (WBG) mass production? Which are the more promising markets for SiC and GaN in the next 2-3 years?

AH: Silicon carbide will continue to grow share for industrial power and energy generation, and we will see it in automobile traction inverters growing rapidly.  Gallium Nitride is starting to prove itself in consumer power supply apps, but it will take more than three years to gain significant share in more demanding applications.

AV: What can we expect from ON Semiconductor power semiconductor division in the next 2 – 3 years?

AH: Increasing portfolio of SiC devices and modules for EV traction inverters, Solar systems, and EV charging.  We will continue to lead with improved technologies for IGBTs, MOSFETs, gate drivers and more.  We also will keep developing novel packaging and thermal management solutions to increase power density.

Interviewee

Ali Husain is Senior Manager for Strategy and Corporate Marketing, focusing on power electronics.  He has previously worked in Technical Marketing at Fairchild Semiconductor and at International Rectifier in various roles for 9 years. Ali has a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering, and also a Bachelor of Economics, from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology.

Interviewer

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 since 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 in-depth technical expertise and a deep understanding of the power electronics industry. Ana is author and co-author of several papers as well as a patent. She holds an Electronics Engineering degree followed by a master’s and PhD in micro and nano electronics from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (SP).

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Source: https://www.onsemi.com/

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