Analog ICs are commonly produced on mature nodes such as 130-nm, 90-nm and 65-nm processes, so they don’t get a lot of press like their digital counterparts, constantly striving for smaller and slicker process nodes. That, however, doesn’t undermine the crucial importance of analog, power, and RF semiconductor devices.
Especially when several new fabs are being built to fabricate analog and power semiconductors. Here, it’s important to note that large-size power transistors are still small compared to the die sizes of ICs, and they ship in high volumes. So, these power semiconductors are good enough to keep a 300-mm fab busy at a cost-effective production level.
Among the 10 300-mm fabs scheduled to begin operations in 2022, two will be focused on producing non-IC products like power semiconductors. One is a CR Micro fab in Chongqing, China for power semiconductors, and the other fab in Xiamen, China, owned by Silan Microelectronics, will produce power discretes and sensors.
Beyond Asia, analog and mixed-signal fab buildup continues to take shape in Europe and the United States. For instance, in summer 2021, STMicroelectronics inked a deal with specialty fab Tower Semiconductor to share one-third of its under-construction 300-mm fab in Agrate, Italy.
Figure 1 STMicroelectronics and Tower Semiconductor will share the cleanroom space as well as the facility infrastructure and Tower will install its own equipment in one third of the total space.
The Israel-based Tower’s personnel will share the cleanroom of ST’s R3 fab when it goes into production in the second half of 2022 for analog, power, and RF manufacturing processes. What will be interesting to note is how Tower’s new owner, Intel, executes this fab sharing arrangement with ST.
Another notable fab buildup is Texas Instruments’ RFAB2 facility for manufacturing analog devices; it’s aiming to double the wafer capacity at the company’s Richardson site. It’s especially noteworthy because TI vowed to increase the capital spending for 2021 with 279% more spent than in 2020.
Figure 2 RFAB2 in Richardson, Texas is expected to start production in the second half of 2022.
These IC manufacturing activities show that analog and mixed-signal chips, like the rest of the semiconductor industry, will have significant wafer starts in 2022 and the years beyond.
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- Disrupt or be disrupted: Intel and the great semiconductor fab game