$1bn silicon carbide boost at Cree

May 07, 2019 // By Nick Flaherty
$1bn silicon carbide boost at Cree
Cree is to spend up to $1 billion expanding its silicon carbide capacity with a state-of-the-art, automated 200mm fabrication plant and a materials mega factory at its US headquarters in Durham, North Carolina.

This is the company’s largest investment to date in fueling its Wolfspeed silicon carbide for power and GaN on silicon carbide business for RF. Upon completion in 2024, the facilities will generate up to a 30-fold increase in SiC wafer fabrication capacity and 30-fold increase in SiC materials production to meet the expected market growth. The company will spend $450m on its North Fab; $450m for the materials mega factory; and $100m in other investments associated with growing the business.

“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. Today, 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,” said Gregg Lowe, CEO of Cree. “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 delivers additional capacity for its SiC business with the build out of an existing structure as a 253,000 square-foot, 200mm power and 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 today, initially opening with the production of 150mm wafers and refurbished production equipment. The company will also convert its existing Durham fabrication and materials facility into a materials mega factory which will cut costs significantly.

Next: Silicon carbide for EVs and RF

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