Bosch: The new kid on the silicon carbide block

Silicon carbide (SiC) technology continues to make headlines, and the latest byte has come with Bosch’s acquisition of a U.S. fab in Roseville, California. More importantly, Bosch will invest $1.5 billion to upgrade TSI Semiconductor’s manufacturing facility, and by 2026, the fab will start producing 200-mm SiC wafers.

That resonates with the proposition echoed at APEC 2023 in Orlando, Florida in March: Take old silicon fabs and upgrade them with SiC-specific tools. Here, it’s worth mentioning that the front end of SiC manufacturing isn’t much different from silicon power devices like IGBTs.

TSI, founded in 1984, produces large volumes of chips on 200-mm silicon wafers for applications ranging from mobility to telecommunications to energy. It has a workforce of 250 people, and after the retooling phase, the fab will have roughly 10,000 square meters of clean-room space.

Source: Bosch

The deal also underscores a critical fact: Bosch is bolstering its semiconductor business in general and SiC investment in particular. In summer 2022, the German manufacturing giant announced to invest 3 billion euros in its semiconductor business in Europe. Bosch has also hinted about being a contender for the federal U.S. funds from the CHIPS and Science Act as well as state and local incentives. Furthermore, it has been stated that the initial $1.5 billion investment in SiC manufacturing in Roseville is only the starting point.

Earlier in 2021, Bosch began working on SiC components while using proprietary processes to mass-produce them at its Reutlingen plant near Stuttgart. The company expects to have extended its clean-room space in Reutlingen from roughly 35,000 to more than 44,000 square meters by the end of 2025.

Bosch’s move is significant at a time when there is a huge demand for electric vehicles (EVs), and SiC semiconductors are increasingly becoming a technology choice for EV inverters and other crucial building blocks like on-board charging (OBC). The United States is the second largest automobile market, and given the rapid uptick in demand for SiC semiconductors, this deal comes at a pivotal time.

Moreover, at a time when the substrate and wafer costs have become a major stumbling block in SiC’s mass advancement, a new player joining the fray may accelerate the efforts for creating the economy of scale for SiC wafers.

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Silicon carbide (SiC) and the road to 800-V electric vehicles
APEC 2023: SiC moving into mainstream, cost major barrier
Silicon carbide’s wafer cost conundrum and the way forward







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