Power wideband semiconductor market to grow fivefold

Power wideband semiconductor market to grow fivefold

Market news |
By Nick Flaherty

The emerging market for silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) power wideband semiconductor devices is forecast to pass $1 billion in 2021 and top $5n by 2029 says a new report from market researcher Omdia.

The growth is driven by hybrid and electric vehicles, power supplies, and photovoltaic (PV) inverters.

Worldwide revenue from sales of SiC and GaN power wideband semiconductor devices of all kinds is projected to rise to $854m by the end of 2020, up from just $571m in 2018, according to Omdia’s latest report. Market revenue is expected to increase at a double-digit annual rate for the next decade, passing $5bn by 2029.

However these long-term market projection totals are about $1bn lower than last year to reflect lower demand after the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite this, the market is seeing new entrats such as Alpha and Omega Semiconductor and II-VI.

SiC Schottky diodes have been on the market for more than a decade, with SiC metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors (SiC MOSFETs) and junction-gate field-effect transistors (SiC JFETs) appearing in recent years. SiC power modules are also becoming increasingly available, including hybrid SiC modules, containing SiC diodes with Si insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs), and full SiC modules containing SiC MOSFETs with or without SiC diodes.

SiC MOSFETs are proving very popular among manufacturers, with several companies from Infineon to Microchip already offering them. Several factors caused average pricing to fall in 2019, including the introduction of 650, 700 and 900 volt (V) SiC MOSFETs priced to compete with silicon superjunction MOSFETs, as well as increasing competition among suppliers.

Next: Declining pricing for wideband semocnductor devices 

“Declining prices will eventually spur faster adoption of SiC MOSFET technology,” said Richard Eden, senior principal analyst for power semiconductors at Omdia. “In contrast, GaN power transistors and GaN system ICs have only appeared on the market quite recently. GaN is a wide-bandgap material offering similar performance benefits as SiC, but with a higher cost-reduction potential. These price and performance advantages are possible because GaN power devices can be grown on either silicon or sapphire substrates, which are less expensive than SiC. Although GaN transistors are now available, sales of GaN system integrated circuits (ICs), from companies such as Power Integrations, Texas Instruments and Navitas Semiconductor are forecast to rise at a faster rate.”

By the end of 2020, SiC MOSFETs are forecast to generate revenue of approximately $320 million to match those of Schottky diodes. From 2021 onwards, SiC MOSFETs will grow at a slightly faster rate to become the best-selling discrete SiC power device. Meanwhile, SiC JFETs are each forecast to generate much smaller revenues than those of SiC MOSFETs, despite achieving good reliability, price and performance.

“End users strongly prefer normally-off SiC MOSFETs, so SiC JFETs appear likely to remain specialized, niche products,” Eden said. “However, sales of SiC JFETs are forecast to rise at an impressive rate, despite having very few active suppliers.”

Hybrid SiC power modules, combining Si IGBTs and SIC diodes, are estimated to have generated approximately $72 million in sales in 2019, with full SiC power modules estimated to have generated approximately $50 million in 2019. Full SiC power modules are forecast to achieve over $850 million in revenue by 2029, as they will be preferred for use in hybrid and electric vehicle powertrain inverters. In contrast, hybrid SiC power modules will be used in photovoltaic (PV) inverters, uninterruptible power supply systems and other industrial applications, mainly, delivering a much slower growth rate.

A key factor in the growth is the reliability data. There are now trillions of hours of device field experience available for both SiC and GaN power devices. Suppliers, even new market entrants, are demonstrating this by obtaining JEDEC and AEC-Q101 approvals. There do not appear to be any unexpected reliability problems with SiC and GaN devices; in fact, they usually appear better than silicon.

SiC MOSFETs and SiC JFETs are also available at lower operating voltages, such as 650V, 800V and 900V, allowing SiC to compete with Si Superjunction MOSFETs on both performance and price.

Next: End products 

End-products with GaN transistors and GaN system ICs inside are in mass production, particularly USB type C power adaptors and chargers for fast charging of mobile phones and notebook PCs. Also, many GaN devices are being made by foundry service providers, offering in-house GaN epitaxial crystal growth on standard silicon wafers, and potentially unlimited production capacity expansion as volumes ramp.

The report is at SiC & GaN Power Semiconductors Report – 2020

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