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GT acquisition by onsemi a harbinger of SiC consolidation

The news about onsemi acquiring silicon carbide (SiC) specialist GT Advanced Technologies doesn’t bring any surprise amid the chipmaker’s recent repositioning on disruptive and high-growth intelligent power technologies. What’s noteworthy is the strategic importance of semiconductor outfits like GT focusing on wide bandgap (WBG) technologies.

GT, founded in 1994, has significant experience in SiC crystalline growth and onsemi plans to expand GT’s development efforts to advance 150-mm and 200-mm SiC crystal growth technology. The acquisition will bolster onsemi’s SiC supply chain as well as its fab capacity and packaging capabilities.

Figure 1 GT Advanced Technologies produces wafering-ready CrystX SiC in the form of 150 mm n-type pucks. Source: GT Advanced Technologies

Here, it is worth mentioning that Fairchild Semiconductor had bought Swedish start-up TranSiC to enter the SiC market before it was acquired by onsemi in 2016. Another notable SiC deal was Microchip’s purchase of Microsmi in 2018. Also, STMicroelectronics purchased Norstel Sweden and SK Siltron bought DuPont’s SiC wafer business, formerly known as Dow Chemicals.

The onsemi deal is another reminder of the rising investment in SiC technologies and how the SiC consolidation wave is taking the semiconductor industry back to vertical integration models. The SiC chips and modules will be crucial in electric vehicle (EV) charging and green energy infrastructure, so onsemi’s GT deal is a harbinger of more mergers and acquisitions to bolster the SiC supply chain.

Figure 2 The SiC semiconductor devices will be crucial in EV charging designs. Source: GT Advanced Technologies

It all began in 2009 when ROHM Semiconductor kickstarted commercial initiatives by acquiring the German SiC wafer manufacturer SiCrystal. Twelve years later, in 2021, ROHM has completed the construction of a $190 million SiC wafer and device production plant in Chikugo, Japan.

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