Foundries Expand Rapidly to Meet Soaring RF-SOI Demand (SemiEngineering)

“GlobalFoundries, TowerJazz, TSMC and UMC are expanding or bringing up RF SOI processes in 300mm fabs in an apparent race to garner the first wave of RF business for 5G, the next-generation wireless standard,” writes Mark Lapedus of Semiconductor Engineering. His recent piece, RF-SOI Wars Begin, explains why demand across the supply chain is currently tight.

Rest assured, the supply situation is being addressed fast. By next year, 300mm-based RF-SOI manufacturing (vs. 200mm) will increase from 5% to 20%. But with insatiable end-user demand for greater throughput, overall RF-SOI device demand is increasing in the double-digit range, so 200mm-based manufacturing is also expanding fast.

The front-end modules in all smartphones are built on Soitec’s RF-SOI wafer technology. The most advanced, for LTE/LTE-A, are built on Soitec’s RFeSI-SOI wafers, which have four layers to meet the demands of devices with high linearity requirements. (Courtesy: Soitec)

SOI wafer manufacturer Soitec has 70% of the RF-SOI wafer market share. The other RF-SOI wafer manufacturers – Shin-Etsu, GlobalWafers and Simgui – all use Soitec’s RF-SOI wafer manufacturing technology.

This is an excellent, comprehensive piece, that clearly explains the complexities of the markets, the devices, the manufacturing and the supply chain. It’s a highly recommended read.

BTW, the SOI Consortium is organizing a 4G/5G SOI supply chain workshop during Semicon West (July ’18). Sign up or get more information on that under the Events tab here on the consortium website.

Of course, here at ASN, we’ve been covering RF-SOI for over a decade. You can use our RF-SOI tag to access most of the pieces we’ve done over the years.