Aehr Comments on Recent Tesla Statements on Silicon Carbide and Reiterates its Annual Guidance
Fremont, CA (March 2, 2023) – Aehr Test Systems (NASDAQ: AEHR), a worldwide supplier of semiconductor test and reliability qualification equipment, today announced that at the Power America conference on Wide Bandgap Semiconductors held in Raleigh, North Carolina, CEO Gayn Erickson spoke today on Aehr’s interpretation of Tesla statements made at Tesla’s Investor Day on March 1, 2023.
Gayn Erickson, President and CEO of Aehr Test Systems, commented:
“At Tesla’s Investor Day held in Austin, Texas yesterday, Tesla discussed their plans for a next generation drive unit that includes an electric motor with an integrated DC to AC power inverter based on silicon carbide semiconductor MOSFETS. In their presentation, Tesla stated that this new inverter would have a 75% reduction in silicon carbide. Aehr wants to make it clear that despite Tesla’s statements yesterday, Aehr does not expect a 75% reduction in the total market for silicon carbide wafers.
“In summary, we believe the announcement by Tesla does not impact the market significantly, either higher or lower, as they are adding a new half power drive train to be used on a new lower cost platform that will increase the market opportunities for Tesla and help drive volumes particularly in lower cost target markets such as China, but also in the US and around the world. The move to larger die to be package in module form is seen as a benefit for Aehr’s wafer level test and burn-in solution total available market.
“Specifically, Telsa clarified that the 75% reduction applies only to the next generation lower cost drive units to be included in the new model platform, which is still in development with a yet to be announced initial ship date. Tesla clarified that this will not impact the current high-performance model platforms including the Model S/X and Model 3/Y vehicles. Also, we believe that the new chips in the lower cost models will be 100 Amps per device versus 50 Amps per device today and likely 50% or more larger in surface area; therefore, the number of wafers required will be less impacted. This is important as Aehr’s total available market is primarily driven by the number of wafers required, not the number of devices. Tesla did not provide timing on availability of this new drive unit and platform nor whether it would coincide with a new Giga-factory such as the announced new factory to be built in Mexico, or whether this would or could be made in one of Tesla’s current Giga-factories. Tesla stated that this future platform and drive unit would still be on a 400V battery architecture.
“The current Model S/X and Model 3/Y platforms today use an inverter using a half bridge rectifier on each of three phases used to power the engine. Both platforms and both models in each platform all use the same inverter that uses 24 silicon carbide devices which each have two silicon carbide die in each device package. These 48 silicon carbide devices can drive 400A on the 400V system to drive the engine at a simplified 160 kVA power (400V times 400A = 160 kVA).
“The silicon carbide semiconductor for the inverter on the current Models 3, Y, S, and X were originally selected in 2017 and used with the introduction of the Model 3 in 2018. These were earlier generations of silicon carbide and had a lower current density per unit area. They were also rated at lower current than the typical ~ 100A silicon carbide MOSFETs being used in other silicon carbide modules such as those used in other vehicle manufacturers. 100A silicon carbide MOSFETs are also the “sweet spot” for yield as devices exceeding 100A per device yield have been widely reported to have a drop in yield quickly with higher current due to the defect density of silicon carbide materials. Aehr believes it makes sense and stands to reason that Tesla would make a lower cost lower power inverter and drive unit for a new low-cost platform. An inverter made of 12 100A silicon carbide devices would provide a 200A, 400V, 3 phase 80 kVA inverter and create a lower cost drive unit that would be only half the power of the current drive units in current models. In Aehr’s opinion, putting a Model 3 inverter into a lower performance “Model 2” vehicle seems like overkill and unnecessary. It is also important to understand that a 100A device using today’s generation of silicon carbide devices is approximately 50% larger than the devices used in the current Telsa inverters. So, while this new lower performance 800 kVa inverter only uses 12 die or 75% less than the current 48 die design, the die themselves are estimated to be about 50% larger, or require 50% more wafers for the same number of die.
“In addition, during the Q&A session, Tesla further clarified that the new inverters would be made from a new Tesla-proprietary custom module package, and that Tesla would purchase the die from multiple manufacturers and package them in this Tesla-proprietary custom module. Again, Aehr sees this as a natural roadmap and consistent with the roadmaps stated by major manufacturers of silicon carbide where the electric vehicle inverters will migrate multi-chip modules to reduce power conversion losses, improve thermal performance, simplify design, and lower overall cost of the inverter system. As companies migrate to silicon carbide modules with multiple die in a single module package, the need for wafer level test and burn-in become critical to ensuring automotive quality and reliability as well as cost as the yield loss as a result of the stress test induced failures during burn-in become extremely expensive as a single die failure in a module results in throwing away the entire module including the other die in the module. Therefore, we believe the business use case for our solution actually increases. Wafer level test and burn in of 100% of die and extended burn in times will be required to earn Tesla’s business.
“For its fiscal year ending May 31, 2023, Aehr is reiterating its previously provided guidance for total revenue to be $60 million to $70 million, with strong profit margins similar to last fiscal year. Aehr also continues to expect bookings to grow faster than revenues in fiscal 2023 as the ramp in demand for silicon carbide in electric vehicles increases exponentially throughout the decade.”
About Aehr Test Systems
Headquartered in Fremont, California, Aehr Test Systems is a worldwide provider of test systems for burning-in semiconductor devices in wafer level, singulated die, and package part form, and has installed over 2,500 systems worldwide. Increased quality and reliability needs of the Automotive and Mobility integrated circuit markets are driving additional test requirements, incremental capacity needs, and new opportunities for Aehr Test products in package, wafer level, and singulated die/module level test. Aehr Test has developed and introduced several innovative products, including the ABTSTM and FOX-PTM families of test and burn-in systems and FOX WaferPakTM Aligner, FOX WaferPak Contactor, FOX DiePak® Carrier and FOX DiePak Loader. The ABTS system is used in production and qualification testing of packaged parts for both lower power and higher power logic devices as well as all common types of memory devices. The FOX-XP and FOX-NP systems are full wafer contact and singulated die/module test and burn-in systems used for burn-in and functional test of complex devices, such as leading-edge silicon carbide-based power semiconductors, memories, digital signal processors, microprocessors, microcontrollers, systems-on-a-chip, and integrated optical devices. The FOX-CP system is a new low-cost single-wafer compact test and reliability verification solution for logic, memory and photonic devices and the newest addition to the FOX-P product family. The WaferPak Contactor contains a unique full wafer probe card capable of testing wafers up to 300mm that enables IC manufacturers to perform test and burn-in of full wafers on Aehr Test FOX systems. The DiePak Carrier is a reusable, temporary package that enables IC manufacturers to perform cost-effective final test and burn-in of both bare die and modules. For more information, please visit Aehr Test Systems’ website at www.aehr.com.
Safe Harbor Statement
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements generally relate to future events or Aehr’s future financial or operating performance. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements because they contain words such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expects,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “going to,” “could,” “intends,” “target,” “projects,” “contemplates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “potential,” “sees,” or “continue,” or the negative of these words or other similar terms or expressions that concern Aehr’s expectations, strategy, priorities, plans, or intentions. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, Aehr’s ability to generate bookings and revenue increases in the future, including the second quarter of fiscal 2023; future requirements and orders of Aehr’s new and existing customers; bookings forecasted for proprietary WaferPakTM and DiePak consumables across multiple market segments; the temporary nature of customer pushouts; shipping timelines for products and follow-on capacity orders; the growth of Aehr’s systems and consumables, including as a percentage of total sales; financial guidance for fiscal 2023, including related to revenue and profitability, and expectations regarding fiscal 2023; Aehr’s ability to expand its number of customers using its FOX-PTM solutions; the ability to secure potential customer engagements; and expectations related to long-term demand for Aehr’s productions and the attractiveness of key markets. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release are also subject to other risks and uncertainties, including those more fully described in Aehr’s recent 10-K, 10-Q and other reports filed from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Aehr disclaims any obligation to update information contained in any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this press release.
|Aehr Test Systems
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|MKR Investor Relations Inc.
Todd Kehrli or Jim Byers