GaN Systems is one of the few power device makers with a complete portfolio of devices using GaN-on-silicon technologies. Today, GaN Systems has two product lines, at 100V and 650V. It has also announced an agreement with TSMC in order to multiply its production capacity by a factor of ten. One of GaN Systems’ original technologies is its packaging. The fabless company is using an embedded die platform, which allows much better power dissipation and a very thin package.
Yole Développement (Yole) has interviewed Girvan Patterson, GaN Systems’ President and Jim Witham, CEO, on the company’s expected evolution and the new developments we can expect. GaN Systems started its sales in 2014, when the overall market was worth $6M, according to the latest Yole report “GaN and SiC Devices for Power Electronics Applications”. The expected compound annual growth rate for this market is more than 50% for the next five years. System Plus Consulting’s reverse engineering and costing report on GaN Systems’ devices (GaN Systems 650V GaN on Silicon HEMT AT&S ECP® Embedded Power Die Package) reveals that the company was using AT&S for embedded package manufacturing.
Yole Développement: Can you please introduce us to GaN Systems, its technologies and products?
GaN Systems: Started in 2008, GaN Systems is a fabless semiconductor company focusing on realizing all the benefits of gallium nitride in power conversion and control applications. To overcome silicon’s limitations in switching speed, temperature, voltage and current, the company develops the most complete range of gallium nitride power switching transistors for a wide variety of markets. The company is totally focusing on GaN power devices, with no heritage linked to silicon, which helps to make the right design choices.
GaN Systems is also totally focusing on making GaN devices easy to use for designers. The company has two differentiating technologies. First, it uses a front end specific Island Technology® that addresses today’s challenges of cost, performance, and manufacturability, resulting in devices that are smaller and more efficient than other GaN design approaches. The company is also using a specific back end process, named GaNPX, based on an embedded die platform.
Yole Développement: What is the commercial status of GaN Systems’ products?
GaN Systems: The first products were introduced in samples in 2014 and a distribution agreement with Mouser took place in October 2014, which means our devices are now available in a simple way. We have multiple customers that already have systems in production using our devices and more than 300 customers in production or in a design cycle for a new product release.
What is specific to GaN power devices is that system designers get the benefit from them at system level, which reduces the bill of materials (BOM) cost strongly. For GaN devices to be effective, a system has to be redesigned.0
Today GaN devices are more costly compared to silicon, but savings in the BOM at system level offset this. In three years we expect to be in a totally different position. In high-volume manufacturing, power GaN devices will be less expensive compared to a silicon device with the same specification. Volume production is key to get access to this price decrease.
Yole Développement: GaN Systems has two product lines: 100V and 650V. What are the corresponding applications for each product line? And where are you expecting the highest growth?
GaN Systems: Most of the applications today are for consumer applications such as power adaptors for PCs and mobile phones, enterprise applications such as racks, servers, and data centers, and industrial applications and transport including electric or combustion engine vehicles, DC/DC converters, and 48V battery systems.
Yole Développement: GaN power device sales were very low in 2014. What can we expect for 2015 and 2016, in general and for GaN Systems?
GaN Systems: Consumer and enterprise applications are by far the fastest growing applications and markets. 2015 seen a strong uptick compared to 2014. 2016 is expected to be even better.
Yole Développement: GaN Systems has expanded its high volume production tenfold in response to surging global demand from consumer and enterprise customers with its agreement with TSMC, which is great news! What is meant by high volume?
GaN Systems: We are not providing any further comments beyond the press release published with TSMC. GaN Systems is already using multiple foundries and back-end facilities to deliver its devices in volume. We now have an established production capacity of 50 million devices per year through our different partners.
Yole Développement: What is TSMC’s GaN-on-silicon capacity? Is it doing 8’’ wafer production? Does it do epitaxy in-house? Is its strategy to move to 300mm?
GaN Systems: Well, for such details, TSMC must be the source of information! Now, with the TSMC agreement, we are able to work with a great foundry partner, able to maximize our growth.
Yole Développement: Some companies choose to have diverse packages for discretes for different applications and the system design engineer can choose between them. GaN Systems has made the choice of embedded die. Will you stick to the GaNPX embedded die package or do you plan to have others?
GaN Systems: GaN Systems has chosen an embedded die process for its technical capabilities: very thin package, high power dissipation possibilities, simple face up or face down cooling, scalability potential and low inductance. Our customers are very satisfied with this packaging and we will continue on the same path.
Yole Développement: What are the next steps in GaN Systems’ development? Will you develop a module product line?
GaN Systems: We now have a complete line of products for 100V and 650V applications, with multiple amp ratings available, from 7A to 250A, and even higher currents are coming. We will continue to widen the gap between existing silicon devices and our GaN-on-silicon devices. Our focus is to support our customers in the implementation of GaN devices in system design in order to get the full benefit from GaN Systems’ added value. We have now the supply chain in place to support our growth.
In term of new offerings, higher voltage is under development as well as devices targeting 60-100V applications. We are also developing integrated power devices, using the ability of GaN to be easily integrated at front-end level. We are working internally on that, and the first working devices are available already in our lab. Production will happen in coming years. Our strategy is to focus on discrete devices first and later, when it is appropriate, to enter the integrated power device field.
Concerning power modules, this is already a big market. We have multiple customers that are integrating our devices in order to deliver power modules to their customers. And we will continue to support this business through our customers.
2016 will be a great year for GaN Systems, with a very strong increase in production and also an expansion of the family of devices.
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