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GaN and SiC Devices for Power Electronics Applications

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couv Yole GaN SiC Power Electronics Applications Report July 2015 web 1SiC and GaN will compete with silicon from low to high power

The SiC market is expected to treble and GaN is expected to explode - if challenges are overcome

In 2014, the SiC chip business was worth more than $133M. As in previous years, power factor correction (PFC) and photovoltaics (PV) are still the leading applications.

SiC diodes represent more than 80% of the market. In 2020, diodes will remain the main contributor across various applications, including electric and hybrid electric vehicles (EV/HEV), PV, PFC, wind, Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) and motor drives.

SiC transistors will grow in parallel with diodes, driven by PV inverters. Challenges must be overcome prior to the adoption of pure SiC solutions for EV power train inverters, which is nevertheless expected by 2020.

Including the growth in both diodes and transistors we expect the total SiC market to more than treble by 2020, reaching $436M.

GaN potentially has a huge Total Accessible Market (TAM), and its adoption would therefore be significant. The starting point and the growth rate are directly linked to two important questions:

  • How will the emerging applications of low voltage GaN expand and how GaN will be adopted by these applications?  
  • Will 600V devices make their way into market?

Yole Développement has integrated these variables in developing two scenarios for the GaN device market up to 2020. The analysis is based on the penetration rate of GaN in different applications including DC-DC conversion, Lidar, envelope tracking, wireless power, and PFC… We estimate the GaN device market size will be $303M in 2020 in the nominal scenario. In the accelerated scenario, where low voltage GaN and 600V GaN are rapidly adopted, the figure for 2020 is $560M. Emerging applications, namely envelope tracking, wireless power and Lidar, together will consume one third of GaN transistors. In both scenarios low voltage applications below 200V are expected to be the major contributors to the market. We invite you to read the report to find out more.

GaN device market size Nominal vs accelerated scenario

Companies are moving in the right direction to overcome the remaining technical challenges to accelerate adoption of WBG devices.

Designing a totally new product with these semiconductors will induce R&D expenses that have to be compensated by adding value at the system level. This could include improving cost, size, and operating condition compared to regular silicon solutions. To grab this added value an integrator has to get the full benefit from wide band gap (WBG) devices’ increased operating frequency and temperature.

So far, the WBG market hasn’t grown as fast as people in the business have hoped. The four barriers to WBG device adoption remain:

  • High cost at the device level
  • Reliability
  • Multi-sourcing
  • Integration

Many R&D programs have been launched in recent years. Some prototypes have demonstrated that the cost of the Bill Of Materials (BOM) can be lower at the system level when using WBG devices.

To overcome reliability challenges, ROHM and Cree have announced new SiC device generations or platforms with enhanced, more stable, specifications. SiC and GaN devices are also going through reliability tests to lower their adoption risk.

Numerous companies have now developed SiC MOSFETs, including Cree, Rohm, ST Microelectronics, Mitsubishi and GE. This means end users are better able to multi-source these devices. By contrast, there’s a limited number of suppliers in the GaN market. In coming years, new entrants like ExaGaN and TSMC will provide extra sourcing options. Infineon and Panasonic also announced in 2015 that they would establish a dual-sourcing relationship for normally-off 600V GaN power devices.

Integrating these fast switching, high operating temperature devices remains one of the major challenges. WBG suppliers and end users need to reconsider many factors, including device packaging, module packaging, gate driver integration and topology design.

Packaging is becoming a particular bottleneck, but the good news is that companies are moving in the right direction. GaN device makers EPC and GaN Systems have both adopted advanced packaging, which seems to be more suitable than traditional power device packages. The recent acquisition of APEI by Cree will likewise accelerate the development of SiC module packaging.

Read more about the challenges facing WBG in the full report.

Recent financial moves indicate market confidence in WBG devices

There have recently been several pieces of good news for the WBG business. The current SiC device market leader Cree decided to spin off its power and RF division as a separate company, and will issue shares in a new IPO. We interpret this announcement as a positive sign of the continuing growth in the SiC power device market.

Market share of SiC device makers in 2014

At the same time, around $100M in investments have been made in different GaN startups, as indicated in the following table. Two of them are in the top four commercial GaN companies. These investments reflect the confidence in the GaN device market and investors’ willingness to provide funds to accelerate production capabilities.

Company name Investment Date
GaN Systems $20M May 2015
Exagan $6.5M June 2015
Transphorm $70M June 2015

Will GaN and SiC compete for the same power electronics applications?

After years of discussion about whether it would be GaN or SiC, the answer is now clearer than ever.

SiC diodes have existed on the market for over 14 years, and are becoming a mature technology, leaving no room for GaN diodes.

GaN transistors have made their way into low voltage applications, which SiC will find difficult to challenge.

Commercial SiC transistors exist in the 600-3300 V range. Compared to GaN lateral devices, their advantages at voltages over 1200 V are now widely recognized. In early 2015, SiC device leader Cree launched its 900 V platform. This is considered by the market as a significant move for SiC, signaling its intention to address 900 V and lower voltage applications.

GaN is also trying to enter the 600 V market. Applications such as PFC, on-board chargers, and low voltage-high voltage DC-DC converters for automotive will therefore be the main battle fields for GaN and SiC in the coming years.

In the end, integrators do not care what the chips they buy are made of. They want suitable devices at reasonable prices to make a system desired by the market. The real competition is not between GaN and SiC, but WBG versus incumbent silicon-based technology. Silicon IGBT technology is progressing, becoming better and cheaper. In the future, the market will not be as dominated by silicon-based devices as it is today, but more diversified. A collection of devices, including silicon, GaN, SiC and others that are yet to be developed, will find their own niches.

WBG Market segmentation GaN versus SiC

Report objectives

  • To analyze the interests of wide band gap-based materials for power electronics applications
  • To provide Yole Développement’s vision for GaN lateral device and SiC penetration for different applications
  • To describe SiC’s implementation in EV/HEV in detail
  • To give an overview of the state of art in GaN lateral devices and SiC-based devices
  • To present the main remaining challenges facing WBG devices
  • To describe the WBG power device industrial landscape and the players in it
  • To project the market for GaN lateral devices and SiC power devices up to 2020

Table of contents

Executive Summary 7
Overall Power Electronics Market 39
WBG power electronics: introduction
Where are WBG chips used in the power industry value chain
Life cycle of power device technologies
WBG value proposition
Electronics converter
WBG added value
WBG market segmentation

EV/HEV Market 45

Different types of electrified vehicles
The top five key requirements for power transistors in HEV
Converters and inverters in EV/HEV
WBG penetration in EV/HEV
Roadmap of implementation of SiC devices in EV/HEV
Added value for SiC devices in EV/HEV applications
SiC device market in EV/HEV
GaN device market in EV/HEV

PV Inverters 66

PV inverters: commercial products with WBG
Penetration of SiC PV
SiC device market in PV
GaN device market in PV
WBG for solar power: Conclusions

PFC market 76

PFC applications
PFC market
WBG device penetration in PFC
SiC device market size for PFC (in M$)
GaN device market size for PFC Up to 2020 (in M$)
WBG device market size for PFC (in M$)
WBG for PFC market: Conclusions

Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) 85

Definition and architecture
Product segments
System BOM comparison
WBG penetration to UPS sector
SiC / GaN / WBG device market size for UPS inverter up to 2020 (in M$)

Industrial motor drive market 93

Motor drive applications
Example of WBG in motor drives
SiC device market size for motor drives up to 2020 (in M$)

Power Converters for Wind Turbines 99

DFIG vs full converter
Components used for wind turbines
SiC penetration in wind turbines
SiC device market size for wind turbines up to 2020 (in M$)

Rail Traction Market 105
Power devices in different types of trains
SiC implementation in rail traction
Full SiC inverter for rail traction
Hybrid SiC inverter for rail traction
SiC for auxiliary in trains
Hybrid vs full SiC solutions in traction
WBG penetration in trains
SiC device market size in trains up to 2020 (in M$)

Other applications for SiC 105

Induction heating generator
SiC for induction heating generator
Electronics converter in aeronautic
SiC For military applications
WBG for military applications
Electrical grid management trends
SiC penetration in T&D applications

Low power DC DC converter 124

Point of load (PoL)
GaN for PoL / isolated DC-DC converter
GaN device market volume in DC-DC

Emerging markets for GaN  132

GaN for emerging applications
Wireless power
Rezence™ wireless
Envelope tracking
GaN  device market size for emerging applications up to 2020 ( in M$)

WBG market 143

From prototype to mass-production
Tentative estimation of market share of SiC / GaN device makers in 2014

SiC discretes and modules 148

SiC power devices
Known SiC Schottky diodes on the market
Commercially available SiC transistors
Device benchmark
Evolution in Cree’s MOSFET structure
SiC MOSFET current density (A/mm²) roadmap to 2020
SiC die cost analysis
Estimation of market price for SiC 600V Diode and 1.2kV MOSFET

GaN discretes 159

Lateral vs vertical GaN devices
Challenges of lateral GaN devices
Cascode vs enhanced-mode GaN device
Low voltage GaN device price
GaN-on-Si HEMT current density (A/mm²) roadmap to 2020
Estimation of market price of 600V GaN HEMT

WBG technical challenges 166

Remaining challenges for WBG devices
Challenges of using WBG devices
Challenges of device packaging
WBG packaging

Conclusions 174


Companies cited

Efficient Power Conversion
Fraunhofer IISB
Fuji Electric

GaN System
Global Power Device
Global Power Technology
Northrop Grumman
Schneider Electric
Sumitomo SEI
United Silicon Carbide



  • Description of the applications where GaN and SiC can be used, including PFC, EV/HEV, PV, UPS, Motor Drive, Wind, Wireless Power, Envelop Tracking, Lidar
  • Projections for GaN lateral device and SiC power device markets up to 2020
  • Roadmaps for WBG technology and its main remaining challenges
  • Description of WBG power device industry landscape and the players in it.
  • Detailed description of SiC implementation in EV/HEV
  • Yole Développement’s vision on GaN and SiC