Automotive Market Drives Changes in Power ICs

Feb282017

In previous blog posts, I discussed the rise of automotive applications and subsequent technology inflections for power devices. Continuing on this thread, I will review the impact these trends are having on the power device market and supply chain.
 
As with all highly competitive industries, continued business success means keeping an eye on emerging applications driving change and innovation. Over the past few years, this has especially been the case for the competitive power device market. The landscape has become more complicated and fragmented with the surging automotive market driving technology and roadmap changes, and consolidation among device manufacturers.
 
We estimate power devices constitute more than 20 percent of total semiconductor content consumed by the automotive market. Demand for more efficient and higher performance cars and new generations of hybrid, electric as well as autonomous and self-driving vehicles, are causing an increase in the number of electronic devices in an automobile. There are literally hundreds of power devices broadly segmented as power MOSFETs, super junction MOSFETS (SJM), insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBTs), diodes and power management ICs for a growing number of automotive applications. Reflecting this demand along with other end-market segments such as smartphones, consumer electronics and industrial applications, the power device market is expected to grow at a 5.3 percent compound annual growth rate from 2015-2021 according to market research firm Yole Development.
 
The strength of the automotive market for semiconductors is shifting power device manufacturers’ attention away from supporting just the computer and smartphone markets, and is driving significant changes as suppliers maneuver and consolidate to establish or strengthen positions in this dynamic market.
 
For example, we’re starting to see leading power electronics manufacturers using 300mm wafers in addition to the 150mm to 200mm sizes traditionally used for power devices. The introduction of more advanced 300mm semiconductor equipment technology places pressure on other power device manufacturers to revisit their portfolios and roadmaps, just as the 200mm power device wafer market has been placing pressure on manufacturers at ≤150mm. In addition, a materials inflection for emerging wide band gap (WBG) devices is introducing new industry challenges. As companies strive to gain expertise in the higher performance WBG materials such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN), we are seeing further merger and acquisition activity.
 
The Power Electronics industry is focused on successfully commercializing wide band gap (WBG) devices. While participation is broad, the playing field is highly fragmented. Investing in one or more wide band gap programs may be cost prohibitive for some device manufacturers.
 
The changing landscape of manufacturers, technologies and roadmaps requires process equipment solutions to continuously evolve. Production-proven 200mm legacy tools must continue to meet suppliers’ competitive yield and efficiency requirements. This means investing in solutions that can extend the lifetime of legacy equipment and update them with more contemporary technology. Applied offers an advanced controller for our 200mm process tools that delivers modern analytical and control capabilities, such as run-to-run control, chamber matching and virtual metrology, to help suppliers achieve productivity goals for the fast-growing automotive market. And for WBG devices, Applied is helping to develop more baseline process applications to help customers achieve improvements in yield, reliability and cost.
 
This is an exciting market to watch and we will continue to provide updates.