X-FAB Silicon Foundries of Erfurt, Germany – a mixed-signal IC, sensor and micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) foundry – has entered wide-bandgap semiconductor production by announcing the availability of silicon carbide (SiC) foundry from its wafer fabrication plant in Lubbock, Texas.
The firm says that, due to major internal investments in the conversion of capital equipment (as well as the support provided by the PowerAmerica Institute at North Carolina State University), X-FAB Texas has heavily upgraded its manufacturing resources in order to be ‘SiC-ready’. Among the tools now added are a high-temperature anneal furnace, backgrind equipment for thinning SiC wafers, backside metal sputter and backside laser anneal tools. A high-temperature implanter is scheduled for installation later this year. X-FAB can hence now fully leverage the economies of scale that are already available in its established 30,000 wafer per month silicon line, presenting the market with the means to produce large volumes of SiC devices on 6-inch wafers.
X- FAB says that, as well as its 6-inch wafer capabilities, other key differentiators include higher yields and accelerated ramp-up to full-scale production, plus decades of experience in manufacturing semiconductor devices that adhere to the most stringent quality standards (such as those for automotive applications). The firm will not only supply fabless semiconductor vendors but also act as a second source for integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) with their own SiC production capabilities.
“Current SiC offerings are either IDMs creating their own products or relatively small foundry operations using 4-inch production facilities,” says Andy Wilson, X-FAB’s director of strategic business development. “X-FAB is bringing something different to the market, with a SiC capacity of 5000 wafers/month ready to utilize and potential to raise this further,” he adds. “We can thus offer a scalable, high-quality, secure platform that will enable customers to cost-effectively obtain discrete devices on SiC substrates and also safely apply vital differentiation.”
In 2015, SiC diode and MOSFET supplier Monolith Semiconductor Inc of Ithaca, NY, USA relocated its headquarters from Ithaca, New York, to Round Rock, Texas, following a strategic partnership announced in 2014 for the manufacture of its SiC switches in X-FAB Texas’ high-volume 150mm silicon production line.