“With the significant uptick in the last 8 quarters we are into double digits investment in capex on both front and backend,” said Bill Hall, executive vice president of the Power Solutions Group (above, left). “We have 13 fabs globally and 18 back end plants in Asia, and the majority of the investment is in power, MOSFETs, IGBTs and modules.”
The investment of over 10% of the $5.5bn revenue will include planning for a move to 300mm (12in) wafers. Arch-competitor Infineon Technologies announced its first 1200V MOSFETs on 300mm wafers earlier this week, and On Semi expects to announce its plans by the end of the year.
“We are actively working on plans to get into 12in, that’s a high capital required,” said Hall. “The return on investment (ROI) is not there until you fully load those fabs so we are working on various scenarios with a plan by the end of the year with capacity to follow in 2 to 3 years – it will be in the Asia-Pacific region.”
But the bulk of the investment is to boost capacity. For example it has invested $23m in the former Fairchild fab at South Portland, Maine, which is delivering SiC epi wafers, an increasingly key capability to have in-house, says Hall. “We are one of the only companies to do epi and substrates and we made a significant investment in that,” he said. It also has a substrate fab in the Czech Republic from its days as Motorola Semiconductor. “We are growing that site significantly, it’s really paying off in this market.”
The company is also investing in the fab at Mountaintop, Pennsylvania for power MOSFETs and the former Samsung fab in Busan, Korea for IGBTs. It is increasing its ownership in a joint fab with Fujitsu in Japan planning to own it completely by 2020 for MOSFETs and IGBTs
“We believe that the investment is just there to meet