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GaN Power Devices Growing At 78% CAGR

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Europe, US and Japan control the majority of substrate supply of fast growing GaN market, says TrendForce

Demand for telecom base stations, converters, and charging stations is creating demand for components and devices powered by third-generation semiconductors GaN and SiC.

According to TrendForce, the GaN power market will undergo the highest magnitude of growth with revenues for 2021 to reach $83 million, an impressive 73 percent YoY increase. Going forward, annual GaN power devices revenue is expected to grow at a 78 percent CAGR and reach $850 million in 2025.

Consumer electronics, NEVs, and telecom/data centres, comprise the three largest sources of GaN power devices consumption, at 60 percent, 20 percent, and 15 percent, respectively.

TrendForce finds that about ten smartphone OEMs have released more than 18 models of smartphones equipped with fast charging capability, while notebook manufacturers are also indicating a willingness to adopt fast charging for notebook computers.

Annual SiC revenue, on the other hand, is expected to grow at a 38 percent CAGR and reach $3.39 billion in 2025, with NEVs, solar power generation/storage, and charging stations representing the top three largest source of SiC power device consumption, at 61 percent, 13 percent, and 9 percent, respectively. For the NEV industry, in particular, SiC power devices are most widely used in powertrain inverters, OBCs (on board chargers), and DC-DC converters.

IDMs from Europe, the US, and Japan control substrate supply

Due to their relative difficulty in epitaxial growth and the fact that the industry is moving from 6-inch towards 8-inch substrates as the mainstream, third-generation semiconductor GaN and SiC substrates are 5-20 times more expensive to manufacture compared to traditional 8-inch and 12-inch Si substrates.

Most substrate materials are, at the moment, controlled by major IDMs as US-based Cree and II-VI, Japan-based Rohm, and Europe-based STMicroelectronics. In response to this, certain Chinese suppliers, including SICC and Tankeblue, have successively entered the substrate market with the support of China's 14th five-year plan, with an aim to accelerate China's goal of semiconductor self-sufficiency.

Although substrate suppliers from Europe, the US, and Japan enjoy an early presence in the market and possess relatively mature process technologies, TrendForce believes that Taiwanese suppliers still hold certain competitive advantages.

For instance, not only do Taiwanese companies have vast experiences in silicon development, but Taiwan is also home to a comprehensive upstream/downstream silicon supply chain. In addition to these aforementioned advantages, Taiwan is further aided by policies that promote domestic material supply, design, and technological development. Taiwan could therefore achieve its goal of becoming a centre of advanced semiconductor fabrication that derives its strength from a gradually maturing front-end substrate and epitaxy industry chain, as well as mid- and back-end competencies in chip design, manufacturing, and packaging.

Currently, two major strategic alliances, led by Hermes-Epitek (with subsidiaries EPI and EPISIL), and SAS (with subsidiaries GW, AWSC, CWT, and ATC) are attempting to maximise their efforts in Taiwan's lacking substrate industry. Furthermore, TAISIC, jointly funded by KENMEC and TAINERGY, has submitted 4-inch SiC substrates for qualification and is actively investing in 6-inch SiC substrate R&D.

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