STMicroelectronics receives $2.2B to build the world’s first silicon carbide factory

STMicroelectronics facility in Catania, Sicily, Italy
(Image credit: STMicroelectronics)

STMicroelectronics, a French-Italian multinational tech company, is set to receive a €2B ($2.2B) grant from the Italian government to help build a €5B ($5.4B) chip production facility in Sicily. This factory will be the world’s first fully integrated silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductor factory, as per New Electronics, and is designed to create microchips for EVs.

Reuters reports that the grant falls under EU’s investment efforts to build up domestic chip production infrastructure, similar to the US’s CHIPS Act and China’s Big Fund. These massive investments in microchip production highlight how crucial semiconductors have become to the global economy, especially as the chip shortage during the global pandemic of 2020 exposed the vulnerabilities of trillion-dollar industries to disruption.

STMicroelectronics is the first company to get approval for grants from the EU, but Intel and TSMC are also applying for these grants for their projects in Germany. The EU’s Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said, “I think it’s really important that we do this, because it’s also signaling to the rest of the world, you should not build up capacity to think that you can own this market, because it’s so strategically important to us not to have single supplier dependencies.”

EU Flag

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

According to Vestager, STMicroelectronic’s grant approval shows how the EU is determined to have multiple sources for its chip requirements. She added, “I’m absolutely sure that there will be more investments also in other states and I think they will also come relatively soon, but I cannot tell you (when).”

But aside from this investment, what makes this development interesting is its focus on SiC. Instead of using the traditional silicon wafer, STMicroelectronics will use silicon carbide, which has better qualities with regard to hardness, thermal conductivity, and thermal expansion. This makes it highly suitable for automotive and industrial applications, including solar cells and AI data centers.

Developments in SiC technology go hand-in-hand with other research on post-silicon chips. This is crucial, especially as Moore’s Law, which says that transistor counts on chips will double every two years, slows down to every three years. This new ST Microelectronics facility aims to integrate all the company’s research and development on SiC chips, including work on processes, product design, packaging, and more. It will also create these chips in the same location, allowing R&D and production to flow more smoothly.

STMicroelectronics expects that facility to start pumping out SiC semiconductors by 2026, and it will take seven years for it to hit full capacity, producing 15,000 silicon carbide wafers per week when it’s running at full tilt.

Freelance News Writer
  • King Anfalas
    I dont like to do this but this report is miss informed.
    Wolfspeed already has the first and only 200mm SiC factory up and running in Utica, upstate NY. They also have only Mega 200mm SiC substrate factory coming online as we speak (1M sq ft) in Siler city, North Carolina and have another 200mm full SiC factory breaking ground in Sarland, Germany. STMicro is way behind and will never catch up to Wolfspeed.
    Please check your facts before you write misleading articles like this and lie to your readers.
    Thank you.
    Reply
  • bill001g
    King Anfalas said:
    I dont like to do this but this report is miss informed.
    Wolfspeed already has the first and only 200mm SiC factory up and running in Utica, upstate NY. They also have only Mega 200mm SiC substrate factory coming online as we speak (1M sq ft) in Siler city, North Carolina and have another 200mm full SiC factory breaking ground in Sarland, Germany. STMicro is way behind and will never catch up to Wolfspeed.
    Please check your facts before you write misleading articles like this and lie to your readers.
    Thank you.
    Tends to be fairly common for toms article written by outside parties. Would almost think a AI wrote this. He seems to just have rewritten a bunch of other articles and did not get the information directly from the announcement.

    If you read the link he provided that the title is based on that article also uses that but it also included the words "fully integrated". Not sure exactly what that means but if you read farther into the article it talks about R&D being at the location also. So if the other companies did not do the R&D or some other step at other locations this technically would be the first one to do everything at one location.

    Rather deceptive word choice. The company did not directly say that in their announcement but if you combine the statement they did make you could get that impression.

    With this being a rewrite of the rewrite of the company official statement it gets distorted.
    Reply
  • King Anfalas
    bill001g said:
    Tends to be fairly common for toms article written by outside parties. Would almost think a AI wrote this. He seems to just have rewritten a bunch of other articles and did not get the information directly from the announcement.

    If you read the link he provided that the title is based on that article also uses that but it also included the words "fully integrated". Not sure exactly what that means but if you read farther into the article it talks about R&D being at the location also. So if the other companies did not do the R&D or some other step at other locations this technically would be the first one to do everything at one location.

    Rather deceptive word choice. The company did not directly say that in their announcement but if you combine the statement they did make you could get that impression.

    With this being a rewrite of the rewrite of the company official statement it gets distorted.
    Thanks for the explanation. Wolfspeed is 100% vertically integrated. They have R&D, make their own substrate and build their own SiC components. Besides that, they are suppliers for EV's as well as communications and power devices. STMicro is only now doing 150mm, Wolfspeed is a full generation more evolved.
    Reply
  • Diogene7
    I find it a bit pity that STMicroelectronics only plans a 200mm SiC wafers Fab, and didn’t take the opprtunity to attempt to leapfrog competitors by scaling up straight to 300mm SiC wafers…

    I am confident that 300mm SiC wafers would ultimately allow to further reduce costs, and open even more opportunities to create advanced systems with leading edge 300mm silicon transistors wafers (ex: Wafer on Wafer (WoW) bonding : one wafer with 2nm GAA silicon transistor and one wafer with SiC power transistors,…).

    Given enough time, scaling all semiconductor manufacturing to 300mm seems to lead to lower costs, and open new synergies opportunities…
    Reply