German and world provider Bosch, which is the automotive trade’s main firm for the event and manufacture of semiconductors, is accelerating its semiconductor manufacturing capacities.
This could possibly be seen as the corporate’s measure to be future-ready and likewise to profit from a enterprise alternative. As is thought, for the previous 18-odd months, the worldwide car trade has roughly been ‘chip-wrecked’ on account of provide chain points the world over.
From automobiles and e-bikes to family home equipment and wearables, semiconductors are an integral a part of all digital methods. They’re the motor that drives the fashionable world of expertise. Bosch, which acknowledged their rising significance early on, has now introduced funding of additional billions of euros in an effort to strengthen its personal semiconductor enterprise.
Wafer manufacturing is among the forerunners of linked manufacturing. People solely intercede within the manufacturing course of for upkeep functions. They readjust the robotic arm when the signature evaluation detects flaws. The AI algorithm determines when intervention is critical; people determine what wants adjusting.
By 2026, Bosch plans to speculate one other 3 billion euros (Rs 24,450 crore) in its semiconductor division as a part of the IPCEI funding program on microelectronics and communications expertise. “Microelectronics is the longer term and is important to the success of all areas of Bosch enterprise. With it, we maintain a grasp key to tomorrow’s mobility, the web of issues, and to what we at Bosch name expertise that’s ‘Invented for all times’,” mentioned Dr. Stefan Hartung, chairman of the Bosch board of administration, on the Bosch Tech Day 2022, just lately held in Dresden.
One of many tasks Bosch plans to fund with this funding is the development of two new growth facilities – in Reutlingen and Dresden – at a mixed price of over 170 million euros. As well as, the corporate will spend 250 million euros over the approaching 12 months on the creation of an additional 3,000 sq. meters of clean-room house at its wafer fab in Dresden. “We’re gearing up for continued progress in demand for semiconductors – additionally for the advantage of our clients,” Hartung mentioned. “For us, these miniature parts imply massive enterprise.”
Making Europe self-sufficient in chips
Inside the framework of the European Chips Act, the European Union and German federal authorities are offering extra funding to develop a sturdy ecosystem for the European microelectronics trade. The target is to double Europe’s slice of world semiconductor manufacturing from 10 to twenty % by the top of the last decade. The newly launched IPCEI on Microelectronics and Communication Expertise is meant primarily to advertise analysis and innovation.
“Europe can and should capitalize by itself strengths within the semiconductor trade,” Hartung mentioned. “Greater than ever, the objective should be to supply chips for the particular wants of European trade. And which means not solely chips on the backside finish of the nanoscale.” Digital parts used within the electromobility trade, for instance, require course of sizes of between 40 and 200 nanometers. That is precisely what the Bosch wafer fabs are designed for.
Increasing 300-millimeter chip manufacturing in Dresden
This new funding in microelectronics additionally opens up new areas of innovation for Bosch. “Being a frontrunner in innovation begins with the very smallest of digital parts: semiconductor chips,” mentioned Hartung.
New fields of innovation at Bosch embody systems-on-a-chip, such because the radar sensors a automobile makes use of to carry out 360 diploma scans of its environment throughout automated driving. Bosch will now be trying to improve such parts, making them smaller, smarter, and likewise cheaper to supply. The corporate can be working to additional modify its personal microelectromechanical methods (MEMS) particularly for the buyer items trade.
One of many issues firm researchers are at the moment utilizing this expertise to develop is a brand new projection module that’s so tiny it may be constructed into the temple of a pair of smartglasses. “With the intention to cement our main market place in MEMS expertise, we additionally plan to fabricate our MEMS sensors on 300-millimeter wafers,” Hartung mentioned. “Manufacturing is scheduled to start out in 2026. Our new wafer fab provides us the chance to scale manufacturing – a bonus we intend to take advantage of to the total.”
Massive demand for silicon carbide chips from Reutlingen
An extra point of interest at Bosch is the manufacturing of latest varieties of semiconductors. At its Reutlingen plant, Bosch has been mass-producing silicon carbide (SiC) chips because the finish of 2021. These are used within the energy electronics required for electrical and hybrid automobiles, the place they’ve already helped enhance working ranges by as much as 6 % .
On the again of highly effective market progress, at annual charges of 30% or extra, demand for SiC chips stays excessive, which means full order books for Bosch. In a bid to make these energy electronics extra reasonably priced and extra environment friendly, Bosch is exploring the usage of different varieties of chips as properly. “We’re additionally wanting into the event of chips based mostly on gallium nitride for electromobility purposes,” Hartung mentioned. “These chips are already present in laptop computer and smartphone chargers.”
Earlier than they can be utilized in automobiles, they must turn into extra strong and capable of stand up to considerably greater voltages of as much as 1,200 volts. “Challenges like these are all a part of the job for Bosch engineers. Our power is that we have been acquainted with microelectronics for a very long time – and we all know our method round automobiles simply as properly.”
View into the clear room manufacturing on the Bosch semiconductor plant in Dresden.
Systematic growth of chip capability
Bosch has made a number of investments in its semiconductor enterprise over the previous few years. For example, the wafer fab in Dresden, which opened in June 2021, noticed funding of a billion euros (Rs 8,150 crore) – the only largest funding within the firm’s historical past.
The semiconductor middle in Reutlingen can be being systematically expanded: between now and 2025, Bosch is to speculate round 400 million euros (Rs 3,260 crore) within the growth of producing capability and the conversion of current manufacturing facility house into new clean-room house.
Among the many semiconductors manufactured in Reutlingen and Dresden are application-specific built-in circuits (ASICs), microelectromechanical methods (MEMS) sensors, and energy semiconductors. Bosch can be constructing a brand new take a look at middle for semiconductors in Penang, Malaysia. As of 2023, this facility will probably be used to check completed semiconductor chips and sensors.
Bosch to speculate 3 billion euros extra in semiconductor enterprise
New chip growth facilities below building in Reutlingen and Dresden; Bosch appears to be like to make chips smaller, smarter, and likewise cheaper to supply.