ROHM, Vitesco Sign Billion-Dollar Long-Term SiC Supply Agreement
Vitesco Technologies and ROHM have entered into a long-term supply partnership valued at over $1 billion for ROHM to supply silicon carbide power semiconductors for use in Vitesco’s electric drive platforms.
Vitesco Technologies and ROHM have announced a new long-term silicon carbide (SiC) supply partnership. Under the terms of the agreement, ROHM will supply its latest SiC power semiconductor solutions to Vitesco for use in its EV powertrain and fast charging solutions.
High-voltage EV solutions using SiC. Image used courtesy of ROHM
The agreement extends through 2030 with a projected value of more than $1 billion from 2024 to 2030, with roots in a SiC development partnership between the two companies dating back to 2020.
This latest announcement from Vitesco follows a similar long-term supply deal with onsemi, another leading supplier of SiC power solutions, as the EV drive manufacturer secures its supply of essential SiC semiconductors through the remainder of this decade and into the next.
Power Solutions for EVs
Based in Regensburg, Germany, and employing nearly 38,000 employees across 50 sites, Vitesco Technologies is betting on electrification, EVs, and e-mobility.
Vitesco’s high-voltage box 2.0 is a highly integrated onboard power module that performs multiple power conversion and management functions for plug-in EVs and hybrids. The unit incorporates a bi-directional onboard charger (OBC) for plug-in AC charging (and vehicle-to-grid operations), low voltage DC/DC to power 12 V vehicle loads (traditionally powered by the 12 V car battery), and a power distribution block that handles DC fast charging and distribution of power to the vehicle’s electric powertrain.
The high-voltage box can convert eternal AC voltages of 120 V or 240 V to 800 VDC for charging EV batteries at power levels up to 22 kW. High-voltage semiconductors, built on compound materials like SiC, are essential to get the best performance from a product like the high-voltage box.
Next-generation Vitesco platforms based on ROHM’s SiC chips should begin shipping to e-OEMs as early as 2024.
High-voltage box 2.0 for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. Image used courtesy of Vitesco Technologies
Compound Semiconductors Dominate High-Voltage Applications
Silicon carbide, and other power devices built on compound semiconductor materials like gallium nitride (GaN), are beginning to dominate in many high-voltage applications ranging from EV onboard chargers to power inverters for renewable power plants and energy storage systems.
The dielectric strength of SiC translates to lower conduction losses at high voltage. Image used courtesy of ROHM
Compared with traditional silicon, SiC has ten times more dielectric strength, which translates to a much shorter MOSFET conduction channel and lower on resistances, allowing power conversion solutions built with SiC devices to perform with higher efficiency at voltages up to 1200 V or more.
SiC is also more thermally resistant than silicon, enabling more dense packaging of power components, leading to smaller and lighter solutions that are appealing for e-mobility applications like EVs.
For EV power sub-systems, like those developed by Vitesco, the characteristics of SiC at high voltage yield faster charge times and longer vehicle ranges, key factors in a highly competitive market.
Comparing SiC to silicon for high-performance power conversion. Image used courtesy of ROHM
The Future of High Power
Silicon carbide has traditionally been the technology of choice in high voltage applications above 600 V. Still, innovations in GaN are pushing this competing compound semiconductor technology toward 1200 V levels, with even better performance at high frequencies and temperatures.
SiC and GaN will likely compete for years to come, vying for board share in the expanding number of power electronics applications that demand the best performance at the highest powers, voltage levels, and frequencies.
And silicon power is not dead, at least not yet, and should remain the go-to option for the vast majority of less demanding, high-volume, and cost-sensitive applications.