As part of its long-term growth strategy, Cree plans to invest up to $1 billion to expand its SiC and GaN capacity, by building a state-of-the-art, automated 200 mm SiC fabrication facility and materials “mega factory” at its U.S. headquarters in Durham, North Carolina. To be completed in 2024, the expansion will increase the capacity of both Wolfspeed’s materials and wafer fabrication capacity by 30x, compared to the company’s capacity at Q1 of fiscal 2017.

Supporting Cree’s growth strategy, this will be the company’s largest investment in Wolfspeed’s SiC and GaN on SiC business, aimed to take advantage of new opportunities in the automotive, communications infrastructure and industrial markets.

Gregg Lowe, CEO of Cree, said, “We continue to see great interest from the automotive and communications infrastructure sectors to leverage the benefits of SiC to drive innovation. However, the demand for SiC has long surpassed the available supply. We believe this will allow us to meet the expected growth in Wolfspeed SiC material and device demand over the next five years and beyond.”

The first step of Cree’s expansion plan is building out an existing structure with a 253,000 square-foot, 200 mm power and RF wafer fab, which will be automotive qualified. Called the North Fab, the facility will provide nearly 18x more surface area for manufacturing than Cree has today. The fab will initially process 150 mm wafers converting to 200 mm at some point. In parallel, Cree will convert its existing Durham fabrication and materials facility into a facility dedicated to SiC materials production, what Cree is calling a mega factory.

“We believe that this represents the largest capital investment in the history of SiC and GaN technologies and production with a fiscally responsible approach. By using existing facilities and installing a majority of refurbished tools, we believe we will be able to deliver a state-of-the-art 200 mm capable fab at approximately one-third of the cost of a new fab.” — Gregg Lowe, Cree CEO

In a release announcing the investment, Cree said the expansion will create high-tech job opportunities and serve to develop an advanced manufacturing workforce. The company said it plans to partner with the state and local community and four-year colleges to develop training programs to prepare its workforce.