It has been proven many times that GaN has a significant potential in replacing Si in many power switching applications. As reported in “Power GaN 2018: Epitaxy, Devices, Applications and Technology Trends” from Yole Développement (Yole), even if GaN currently still has only a small share of the market, it has started penetrating confidently into different power segments, starting with power supply products related to data centers and consumer products including fast charging. In the growing market of GaN Power, one the most important technology trends which we will specifically address this year in our report is “Integration”.
Many players have started building integrated solutions to be cost-competitive at the system level. Today, we find system-in-package solutions that include Si drivers together with the HEMT, as well as system-on-chip solutions where the driver, ESD protection, and other functions are monolithically integrated with the HEMT, as in the case of Navitas. Indeed, a System-on-Chip solution is a very attractive idea for the end-user as an easy-to-use product if properly designed, resulting in an increase in efficiency with less losses coming from the connections.
With this approach, Navitas is the pioneer of System-on-Chip solutions and GaNFastTM is in volume production, initially for markets such as fast chargers and travel adaptors. In December 2018, Chinese power supply player, Anker, presented USB-C chargers for cellphones and laptops using Navitas’ GaNFast product. Today, Yole has the opportunity to meet Gene Sheridan, CEO of Navitas (GSH) to discuss Navitas’ GaN technology status and the company’s roadmap for the coming years.
This interview has been conducted by Ana Villamor, PhD., Technology & Market Analyst, Power Electronics (AV), Hong Lin, PhD., Senior Technology & Market Analyst, Compound Semiconductors & Emerging Materials (HL), and Ezgi Dogmus, PhD., Technology & Market Analyst, Compound Semiconductors & Emerging Materials (ED), all from Yole Développement.
Yole Développement (YD): Could you please briefly introduce Navitas?
Gene Sheridan (GS): Navitas is the industry’s first GaN power IC company, founded in 2014 by a team with a very successful track record in innovating new technologies and building new businesses in the power semiconductor industry.
(Source : Navitas)
YD: What is your business model and why did you choose it?
GS: Navitas sells GaNFastTM power ICs. We also offer application-specific reference designs, which showcase the significant system benefits of our GaN ICs, while providing customers a great starting point for their next-generation designs.
YD: What differentiates your products from those of other GaN companies?
GS: Navitas has invented the world’s first GaN power ICs which integrate power, analog and logic circuits monolithically in GaN. Given GaN’s inherent advantages over silicon in handling high-voltage and high-current while enabling very high switching speeds and efficiencies, this high level of integration enables power systems to achieve unprecedented power density and energy savings while reducing system BOM costs.
YD: What is the developmental status of your GaN product?
GS: Fully production released (qualified to JEDEC standards & beyond) and in high-volume production. Our customers have 24W, 27W, 30W, 45W USB-PD and other products in mass production today, available from amazon.com and other outlets.
YD: Navitas is the pioneer of GaN IC, which seems to be the current technical trend. How do you compare the monolithic approach with Si+GaN integrated solutions?
GS: GaN is the preferred technology to integrate all power and mixed-signal circuits where high voltage or high power is involved, or where parasitics between the devices is critical. Silicon is best for low-voltage, low power circuits, such as MCU, DSP or some ASIC controllers. As such, there is a natural and compelling partitioning to use silicon as the low-voltage, logic-based system controller for power systems, while using GaN for the entire higher voltage power train which would include drivers, levels-shifters, isolators, boot-strap circuits, start-up circuits, voltage regulators, protection and sensing circuits, as well as all of the power devices.
YD: Are fast chargers and travel adaptors your main target market? Or is your objective to introduce GaNFast ICs into other markets? If so, which ones?
GS: Our initial target markets are fast chargers and travel adapters and we are expanding into higher power markets which include LED lighting, enterprise equipment, solar inverters, EV and energy storage.
YD: According to some Chinese websites, the Chinese power supply player, Anker, invested in Navitas in March 2018. Could you please tell us more about this collaboration and future outlook?
GS: We don’t disclose or comment on who is or isn’t a strategic investor, but we can say that Anker is an excellent customer and partner for Navitas and is one of the leading, premium brands in the fast charger and travel adapter space.
YD: Please tell us your vision for packaging of GaN devices, one of the key factors affecting performance?
GS: Currently, we utilize popular QFN surface-mount package technology which delivers the higher I/O (pin count) that GaN ICs require, while achieving high density footprints, good thermal properties, low parasitics and low costs. As we expand into higher power markets, we will be expanding our QFN family to larger and lower RDS devices, as well as new package technologies.
(Source : Navitas – https://www.ravpower.com/promo/power-delivery)
YD: Our company sees an increasing interest in using embedded packaging for GaN devices. What’s your opinion?
GS: Embedded packaging offers some benefits and some difficulties. Multi-layer copper interconnects offer some flexibility in routing, co-packaging, and thermal management. Compared to QFN, it is still in early stages of maturity and has a relatively high cost structure. It needs to be carefully designed and used to avoid stress-related issues and environmental degradation.
Yole: What is the product roadmap for Navitas over the next five years?
GS: In addition to the market & package expansion explained above, our customers can expect to see significant advances in higher levels of circuit integration, higher switching frequencies and higher energy efficiencies that will be enabled by our GaN ICs over the next 5 years. While our existing GaN ICs already offer unprecedented levels of integration and performance, this is our first-generation platform with many generations to come.
Gene Sheridan brings over 25 years of experience in power management & semiconductors with an impressive track record in creating, leading and scaling businesses that have enjoyed excellent value creation, growth and profitability. Currently, Gene is the CEO and Co-Founder of Navitas Semiconductor, the industry’s first and only GaN Power IC company. Navitas is creating a high-speed revolution in power electronics with GaNFast technology that is setting new standards in fast charging, energy savings & power density across consumer, enterprise, solar and electric vehicle markets. The company was formed in 2014 and has excellent financial backing and a world-class team. Prior to Navitas, Gene served as CEO of the VC-backed semiconductor start-up BridgeCo that captured 80% market share in the wireless audio market before a successful sale to Standard Microsystems Corporation. Previously, Gene served as VP & GM at International Rectifier where he created multiple new business lines and managed the Computing & Consumer business unit with over $600M in annual sales. At IR, Gene held several positions that spanned engineering, manufacturing, sales and marketing. Gene is also Executive Chairman at Empower Semiconductor, a power management IC company that has developed disruptive technology to double battery life in mobile equipment. Gene holds a BSEE from Clarkson University
Hong Lin, PhD works at Yole Développement (Yole), as a Senior Technology and Market Analyst, Compound Semiconductors within the Power & Wireless division since 2013. She is specialized in compound semiconductors and provides technical and economic analysis. Before joining Yole Développement, she worked as R&D engineer at Newstep Technologies. She was in charge of the development of cold cathodes by PECVD for visible and UV lamp applications based on nanotechnologies. She holds a Ph.D in Physics and Chemistry of materials.
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 in micro and nano electronics, both from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (SP).
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).
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