Cree unveils $1bn investment plan to expand silicon carbide capacity


US-based semiconductor firm Cree has announced plans to invest up to $1bn at its Durham facilities in the US and related expansion projects.

In order to expand silicon carbide materials capacity, the firm plans to build automated 200mm silicon carbide fabrication facility and a materials mega factory at its headquarters in Durham, North Carolina.

Cree said that the investment marks its largest investment in boosting its Wolfspeed silicon carbide and GaN on silicon carbide business.

Over the five-year period, the company plans to allocate $450m for its existing silicon carbide facility (North Fab); $450m for a materials mega factory; and $100m for other projects which would help grow the business.

Scheduled to be completed in 2024, the Cree's manufacturing campuses are expected to accelerate industry transition from silicon to silicon carbide to meet the demand from the electric vehicle (EV) and 5G market, the firm noted.

Cree CEO Gregg Lowe said: “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.

“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."

The investment plan will see build out of an existing structure as a 253,000ft², 200mm power and RF wafer fabrication facility, and conversion of existing Durham fabrication and materials facility into a materials mega factory.

Lowe added: “These silicon carbide manufacturing mega-hubs will accelerate the innovation of today’s fastest growing markets by producing solutions that help extend the range and reduce the charge times for electric vehicles, as well as support the rollout of 5G networks around the world."

Image: Cree's North Fab facility. Photo: courtesy of Business Wire.

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