Upstate New York is not known as a hotbed for high technology, but semiconductor supplier Cree is banking on the region becoming the centerpiece for a future silicon carbide corridor. The company plans to build a state-of-the-art, automotive-qualified 200-mm power and RF wafer fabrication facility in Marcy, New York. The plant will be complemented by its major plant expansion currently underway at its Durham, North Carolina, headquarters.
The new plant, part of a previously announced project to dramatically increase capacity for its Wolfspeed silicon carbide and GaN business, will be a bigger, highly automated factory with higher output capability. Cree announced a strategic partnership with the office of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and other state and local agencies and entities. The deal will enable Cree to continue transitioning from silicon to silicon carbide technology to meet increasing demand for its Wolfspeed technology that supports the growing electric vehicle (EV), 4G/5G mobile and industrial markets.
“Silicon carbide is one of the most pivotal technologies of our time and is at the heart of enabling innovation across a wide range of today’s most groundbreaking and revolutionary markets, including the transition from the internal combustion engine to electric vehicles and the rollout of ultra-fast 5G networks,” said Gregg Lowe, CEO of Cree, in a statement. “This state-of-the-art, automotive-qualified wafer fabrication facility builds on our 30-year heritage of commercializing breakthrough technologies that help our customers deliver next-generation applications. We look forward to connecting our North Carolina and New York innovation hubs to drive the accelerated adoption of silicon carbide.”
“We’re excited to become part of Cree’s efforts to drive the transition from silicon to silicon carbide, and this partnership will be a key part of our work to strengthen the research and scientific assets that New York State will use to attract the industries and jobs of tomorrow,” said Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Eric J. Gertler. “The Mohawk Valley offers a unique combination of valuable high-tech and scientific assets, and this is an important next step in growing our advanced manufacturing infrastructure and investing in our upstate economy.”
Under the partnership, Cree will invest $1 billion in construction, equipment and other related costs for the New York fab. New York state will provide a $500 million grant from Empire State Development, and Cree will be eligible for additional local incentives and abatements as well as equipment and tooling from SUNY. As a result, the company expects to realize a net capital savings of approximately $280 million on our previously announced $1 billion capacity expansion through 2024. The plant will provide 25% higher output compared to the previously planned facility.
The facility is expected to ramp up in 2022, and will occupy 480,000 square feet upon completion. One-fourth of the space will be allocated to clean rooms, providing future expansion capacity as needed.
Cree plans to partner with local community and four-year colleges in North Carolina and New York to develop training and internship programs to prepare its workforce for the high-tech employment and long-term growth opportunities in both locations.