GaN starts playing the big league… – An interview with Power Integrations

Over the last decade, GaN power devices have been mainly used for high-end power supply solutions, which have represented limited market opportunities despite their remarkable added value both at device and system level. Nevertheless, the year 2019 marks a first milestone for GaN devices in the high-volume consumer smartphone market, following the adoption of GaN HEMTs by Chinese OEM Oppo for its 65W inbox-fast chargers for the Reno Ace flagship model. In addition, since the end of 2018, significant deployment of GaN devices have appeared in the aftermarket for fast chargers from various companies, such as Anker, Ravpower, Aukey and many others, offering high power levels from 30W to beyond 100W.

As reported in “Power GaN 2019: Applications, players, devices, and technologies” from Yole Développement (Yole), the overall Power GaN market is expected to reach in excess of US$350 million by 2024, driven by consumer fast charger applications.

In this context, as an established player in the Power Management business, Power Integrations has recently launched Innoswitch3 products with its in-house PowiGaN technology. As of Q3-2019, Power Integrations announced shipments of 3 million Innoswitch3 products using System-in-Package (SiP) GaN technology, targeting principally the high-volume fast-charger applications.

From an IP perspective, Power Integrations entered the power GaN IP landscape in 2010 with the acquisition of Velox Semiconductor and its patents on Schottky diodes, D-mode transistors and packaging for GaN semiconductor devices. Power Integrations has shown steady power GaN IP activity since then and has today more than 35 patent families or inventions related to GaN power electronics, including more than 60 issued patents and 50 pending patent applications worldwide. Power Integrations is the best-known player for GaN-on-Sapphire technology, although numerous other players have also developed IP related to GaN-on-Sapphire for power applications, including CorEnergy, Powdec and Seoul Semiconductor.

Power Integrations owns key patents related to power switch, E-mode transistor, and power ICs.

Power Integrations is strengthening its IP position by enlarging its IP portfolio’s geographic coverage from USA to the other key GaN power market areas, Japan, China and Europe.

This analysis is part of Power GaN 2019 – Patent Landscape Analysis performed by KnowMade, part of the Yole Group of Companies.

Today, Yole Group of Companies, including Yole, Knowmade and System Plus Consulting, had the opportunity to meet Doug Bailey, VP Marketing at Power Integrations to discuss the status of innovative technology and the company’s roadmap for the coming years.

This interview has been conducted by Ezgi Dogmus, PhD., Technology & Market Analyst, Compound Semiconductors & Emerging Materials, Hong Lin, PhD., Senior Technology & Market Analyst, Compound Semiconductors & Emerging Materials and Ana Villamor PhD., Technology & Market Analyst, Power Electronics at Yole.

Ezgi Dogmus (ED): Could you please briefly introduce Power Integrations and its activities?

Doug Bailey (DB): Power Integrations Inc. is a leading innovator in semiconductor technologies for high-voltage power-conversion. The company’s products are key building blocks in the clean-power ecosystem, enabling the generation of renewable energy as well as the efficient transmission and consumption of power in applications ranging from milliwatts to megawatts. The company recently introduced GaN-based integrated switcher ICs targeting highly compact and efficient power supplies up to 120 W.

Power Integrations is driven by the business opportunities and societal contributions that come from maximizing the efficiency of electronic products. By eliminating wasteful no-load power consumption in adapters, by improving the efficiency of computer and TV power supplies and by enhancing the switching performance of inverters in solar arrays and electric vehicles, PI has established itself as both a technology leader, but also as a thought leader in ecologically responsible electronic products for consumer, business and industrial applications.

Hong Lin (HL): Power Integrations recently announced delivery of the 1 millionth InnoSwitch™3 switcher IC with PowiGaNTM technology.

DB : What is the specificity of this product compared to those from other GaN companies?

In contrast to other companies involved in GaN development, PI has chosen to combine the PowiGaN transistor with an already well-established InnoSwitch3 offline CV/CC flyback switcher IC product in a single package. This allows power supply engineers to achieve all the combined benefits of PowiGaN and industry-leading integrated power supply controller, without having to deal with the complexity of driving and protecting the GaN transistor.

Additionally, the very low switching and conduction losses of the PowiGaN primary switch allows delivery of as much as 100 W from a space-saving InSOP 24D surface mount package in enclosed adapter applications, without requiring a heatsink. Quasi-resonant InnoSwitch3-CP, InnoSwitch3-EP and InnoSwitch3-Pro ICs combine the primary power switch, primary and secondary control with safety isolated high-speed link (FluxLink™), as well as the secondary SR driver and feedback circuits in a single surface-mounted package. The superior switching performance of PowiGaN technology results in up to 95% efficiency, enabling very compact adapter designs.

HL: What is your business model for development of GaN power products?

DB : We expect to use GaN widely because it has significant advantages over Silicon in power conversion.

Ana Villamor (AV): According to System Plus Consulting’s GaN based Wall charger comparison, Power Integrations’ products are based on GaN-on-Sapphire HEMTs. While the majority of the actors in GaN Power business have chosen GaN-on-Si technology, Power integrations have developed GaN-on-sapphire. Can you tell us more about your GaN-on-sapphire technology? What are the benefits of this technology compared to traditional GaN-on-Silicon?

DB : For competitive reasons we do not disclose details of our technology.

AV: Do you also have GaN-on-Silicon products? How do you compare GaN-on-Sapphire and GaN-on-Si HEMTs in terms of wafer and chip production cost?

DB : For competitive reasons we do not disclose details of our technology.

ED: Why did Power Integrations decide to go to market with D-mode products? Is the E-mode GaN in your roadmap?     

DB : For competitive reasons we do not disclose details about our technology.

ED: Yole’s analysts see a growing market interest in fast chargers with monolithic GaN IC (System on chip) solutions. Is monolithic integration on sapphire in Power Integrations’ roadmap?

DB : For competitive reasons we do not disclose details of our technology roadmap.

HL: One of the advantages of Silicon substrates is the further expansion of the substrates to larger sizes. How do you see the evolution of sapphire substrates in the years to come?

DB : For competitive reasons we choose not to answer this question.

HL: Oppo has recently announced the adoption of GaN products in their SuperVOOC 2.0 technology. From our understanding, Power Integrations has a great chance to be in Oppo’s supply chain. As Power integrations’ CEO has recently announced, PI is also in contact with several OEMs. What is your projected volume in this context?

DB : We cannot talk about specific customers, but we have shipped close to 3Mu so far of PowiGaN based ICs to many customers.

AV: What is the production capacity of Power Integrations in this emerging consumer market?

DB : We have plenty of capacity.

AV: Are fast chargers and travel adaptors your main target market? Or is your objective to introduce Innoswitch products into other markets, such as automotive or industrial applications? If so, which ones?

DB : The InnoSwitch3 product with GaN operates in precisely the same way as the silicon version of the product. Developers cannot tell that the device uses PowiGaN by black box analysis of waveforms or operation, other than by observation of substantially higher efficiencies due to lower switching losses and heat dissipation. We expect to see InnoSwitch3 products with PowiGaN in many markets including appliances, TVs, industrial and lighting applications.

AV: What are the key challenges that you face today when you introduce GaN products to your clients?

DB : Due to system level integration of our products with PowiGaN switches, we have not seen any challenges with customers in using our products. Our customers have found the GaN-based InnoSwitch3 family members easy to use, reliable and very effective. 

HL: Can you detail your product roadmap over the next five years to i-Micronews.com readers?

DB : For competitive reasons we cannot disclose product roadmaps publicly. As we said earlier, we plan to use PowiGaN widely going forward.

ED: Would you like to add few words to i-Micronews.com readers?

DB : In September we announced shipment of our one millionth PowiGaN based InnoSwitch device and to date we have shipped about 3Mu. Shipping such a large quantity in a short period of time clearly demonstrates that high voltage GaN has moved from technical curiosity, past exotic niche applications and is now clearly established as a consumer-ready, high volume technology. Use of PowiGaN in our products substantially improves efficiency, power delivery and application compactness. We anticipate a gradual but inexorable switch from silicon to GaN based devices in power applications.

Interviewee

Mr. Bailey joined Power Integrations in November 2004 as vice president of marketing. Prior to joining PI, Mr. Bailey served as vice president of marketing at ChipX, a structured ASIC company. His earlier experience includes Business Management and Marketing Consultant for Sapiential Prime, Inc.., Director of Sales and Business Unit Manager for 8×8, Inc., application engineering management for IIT, Inc. and design engineering roles with LSI Logic, Inmos, Ltd. and Marconi.

Interviewers

As a Technology & Market Analyst, Compound Semiconductors, Ezgi Dogmus, PhD is member of the Power & Wireless division at Yole Développement (Yole).
She is daily contributing to the development of these activities with a dedicated collection of market & technology reports as well as custom consulting projects.
Prior Yole, Ezgi was deeply involved in the development of GaN-based solutions at IEMN (Lille, France). Ezgi also participated in numerous international conferences and has authored or co-authored more than 12 papers.
Upon graduating from University of Augsburg (Germany) and Grenoble Institute of Technology (France), Ezgi received her PhD in Microelectronics at IEMN (France).

Hong Lin, Technology & Market Analyst, Yole Développement

Hong Lin, PhD is a Principal Analyst, Compound Semiconductors at Yole Développement (Yole), within the Power & Wireless division. Since 2013, Hong has been involved in analyzing the compound semiconductor market (including SiC, GaN, GaAs, InP, engineered substrates and other emerging materials) with dedicated technical, strategic, market and financial analyses.
Prior to Yole, she worked as an R&D Engineer at Newstep Technologies. Her mission was to oversee the development of cold cathodes made by plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition for visible and UV lamp applications based on nanotechnology.
Dr Hong Lin holds a PhD in physics and chemistry of materials from the University of Pierre & Marie Curie (Paris VI, France).

Ana Villamor, PhD serves as a Technology & Market Analyst, Power Electronics & Compound Semiconductors within the Power & Wireless division at Yole Développement (Yole). She is involved in many custom studies and reports focused on emerging power electronics technologies at Yole Développement, including device technology and reliability analysis (MOSFET, IGBT, HEMT, etc). In addition, Ana is leading the quarterly power management market updates released in 2017.
Previously Ana was involved in a high-added value collaboration related to SJ Power MOSFETs, within the CNM research center for the leading power electronic company ON Semiconductor. During this partnership and after two years as Silicon Development Engineer, she acquired a relevant technical expertise and a deep knowledge of the power electronic industry.
Ana is author and co-author of several papers as well as a patent. She holds an Electronics Engineering degree completed by a Master and PhD. in micro and nano electronics from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (SP).

Related reports

Power GaN 2019: Epitaxy, Devices, Applications & Technology Trends
First design-win for GaN HEMTs in the high-volume smartphone fast charging market.



GaN-on-Si HEMT vs SJ MOSFET Comparison 2019
Compare the technology and cost of 600/650V GaN-on-Si HEMTs vs Superjunction MOSFETs from 13 manufacturers.


Power GaN 2019 – Patent Landscape Analysis
Which patent owners are ready to dominate the GaN power market in coming years?



Related event

TechDay: EV/HEV Cost vs. Performance Trade-off: A Battle on Multiple Fronts For Power Electronics

The event is located at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, Mercedesstrasse 75, 70372 Stuttgart, Germany. It takes place on December 12, from 1:45 PM to 6:00 PM.



Source: http://www.yole.fr

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