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IQE

7 May 2019

Cree investing $1bn to expand SiC materials production and power & RF fab capacity by up to 30-fold

As part of its long-term growth strategy, Cree Inc of Durham, NC, USA is to invest up to $1bn over five years in expanding its silicon carbide capacity with the development of an automated 200mm silicon carbide fabrication facility ($450m) and a materials mega factory ($450m) at its US campus headquarters in Durham (toghether with $100m in other investments associated with growing the business), marking the firm’s largest investment to date in fueling its Wolfspeed silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride on silicon carbide (GaN-on-SiC) business.

Upon completion in 2024, the facilities will substantially increase the firm’s silicon carbide materials capability and wafer fabrication capacity, targeting wide-bandgap semiconductor solutions that are enabling the technology shifts underway within the automotive, communications infrastructure and industrial markets.

“We continue to see great interest from the automotive and communications infrastructure sectors to leverage the benefits of silicon carbide to drive innovation. However, the demand for silicon carbide has long surpassed the available supply,” says CEO Gregg Lowe. “We are announcing our largest-ever investment in production to dramatically increase this supply and help customers deliver transformative products and services to the marketplace,” he adds. “This investment in equipment, infrastructure and our workforce is capable of increasing our silicon carbide wafer fabrication capacity up to 30-fold and our materials production by up to 30-fold compared to Q1 of fiscal year 2017, which is when we began the first phase of capacity expansion. We believe this will allow us to meet the expected growth in Wolfspeed silicon carbide material and device demand over the next five years and beyond.”

The plan will deliver additional capacity for its Wolfspeed silicon carbide business through the build out of an existing structure as a 253,000ft2, 200mm power & RF wafer fabrication facility as an initial step to serve the projected market demand. The new North Fab is designed to be fully automotive qualified and will provide nearly 18 times more surface area for manufacturing than exists currently, opening initially with the production of 150mm wafers. The firm will convert its existing Durham fabrication and materials facility into a materials mega factory.

“These silicon carbide manufacturing mega-hubs will accelerate the innovation of today’s fastest-growing markets by producing solutions that help extend the range and reduce the charge times for electric vehicles, as well as support the rollout of 5G networks around the world,” says Lowe. “This represents the largest capital investment in the history of silicon carbide and GaN technologies and production with a fiscally responsible approach,” he believes. “By using existing facilities and installing a majority of refurbished tools, we believe we will be able to deliver a state-of-the-art 200mm-capable fab at approximately one-third of the cost of a new fab.”
The expanded campus will also create high-tech job opportunities and serve as an advanced manufacturing workforce development initiative. Cree plans to partner with state and local community and four-year colleges to develop training programs to prepare its workforce for the long-term employment and growth opportunities that the new facilities will present.

See related items:

Cree’s quarterly revenue grows 22% year-on-year, driven by Wolfspeed’s organic growth of 40

Cree and ST sign multi-year SiC wafer supply agreement

Cree signs long-term SiC wafer supply deal with leading power device maker

Cree acquires Infineon RF Power business for €345m

Cree signs $100m long-term deal to supply 150mm SiC wafers to Infineon

Tags: Cree Wolfspeed GaN RF SiC Power electronics

Visit:  www.cree.com

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