Power GaN: Who is part of the playground?

11th February 2019
Alex Lynn

Eight years have passed since the first commercialised power GaN device. People in the power electronics industry are becoming increasingly familiar with the names of startups that are actively promoting GaN technology. Efficient Power Conversion (EPC), GaN Systems, Transphorm or Navitas, in addition to the power electronics leaders, are also highly involved in the development of GaN technology. 

Moreover, the list of GaN startup players is getting longer. Under this dynamic ecosystem, Yole Développement (Yole) and its partners EPC and SEMI are organising a conference dedicated to the power GaN industry. Taking place on February 21st in Milpitas, California, the ‘GaN Con - Power GaN: From promises to possible market explosion’ TechDay is a smart combination of powerful presentations proposed by leading power GaN companies, debates, and networking.

During half day, the Organising Committee including Yole’s analysts strongly involved in the analysis of the Power GaN industry invites everyone to dive into this emerging industry, understand the technical challenges and identify business opportunities.

Most of the power GaN startup players choose the foundry model, mostly using TSMC, Episil, or X-Fab as their preferred partner. Meanwhile, other foundries might offer this service if the market takes off. The foundry model affords fabless or fab-lite start-ups the possibility of ramping up quickly if the market suddenly takes off, while existing IDM can benefit from previous acquired equipment and knowledge for GaN manufacturing.

“It is fascinating to see that along with these start-up players, companies with very different profiles are competing in the same playground: industrial giants like Infineon Technologies, ON Semiconductor, STMicroelectronics, Panasonic, and Texas Instruments,” commented Ana Villamor, PhD, Technology and Market Analyst at Yole.

The Power GaN report, identified several new items in 2018, such as Infineon Technologies announcing it would start volume production for CoolGaN 400 and 600V E-mode HEMT products at the end of 2018. 

Ezgi Dogmus, PhD Technology and Market Analyst at Yole, said: “The power electronics leader has so started mass production of GaN. This announcement is a strong sign for the Power GaN industry. Therefore, because of its leadership, Infineon Technologies has already many customers for silicon products that could shift to GaN solutions in the near future, if their requirements are satisfied.”

The GaN adoption by the big players gives confidence for future market growth. In parallel, STMicroelectronics and CEA Leti announced their cooperation in developing GaN-on-Si technologies for both diode and transistor on Leti's 200mm R&D line. Both partners expect to have validated engineering samples in 2019. 

Also, STMicroelectronics will create a fully qualified manufacturing line, including GaN-on-Si hetero-epitaxy, for initial production running in the company’s front-end wafer fab in Tours, France, by 2020. As a good promise, new commercial products arrived during the last year, and more will come in 2019. The main ones released were power supply products for high end or high volume consumer applications. At the moment, each of the segments is targeted by different company profile; integrated solutions for consumer applications and discrete solutions for high-power/high-end power supplies.

The industry is becoming more and more engaging, and many questions are pending. The Power GaN report from Yole proposes two scenarios to get a deep understanding of the status of this market. The market research and strategy consulting company take into account all technical challenges and market parameters and daily crossing this information with leading power GaN players.

During the power GaN TechDay partnered with EPC and SEMI, Yole’s analysts and power GaN companies will reveal their vision of today’s industry and debate about its evolution.

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