Market Insight

SiC and GaN shine at APEC 2018

March 13, 2018

Kevin Anderson Kevin Anderson Senior Analyst, Power Semiconductors
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After years of promise, Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN) power device developers held a coming out party at APEC 2018 in San Antonio last week. SiC and GaN devices have long held the potential to improve energy conversion efficiency, thereby reducing the size, weight, and heat in power converters and inverters, device chargers, and motor drives. The adoption has been held back by high costs, reliability questions and enhanced gate drive designs to match the much faster switching speeds enabled by SiC and GaN.

Ready for Market

IHS Markit addressed these issues in industry session IS23 with a presentation of excerpts from the industry leading report “Market Forecasts for SiC and GaN Power Semiconductors”.  The talk presented the findings of extensive interviews with SiC and GaN manufacturers and ecosystem partners and concluded that pricing has now reached the level enabling mass adoption with high voltage GaN devices approaching their silicon equivalents.  The quality data available from thousands of billions of hours of device data is answering device reliability concerns, while new driver designs are enabling ease of adoption.

Revenue for Power SiC and GaN devices are set for high growth over the next ten years (Source: IHS Markit “Market Forecasts for SiC and GaN Power Semiconductor – 2018”

From High Power Hype to Reality

This assessment was borne out on the show floor with dozens of exhibitors displaying SiC and GaN related products, demos and tools.  The GaN Systems stand was full of 100V to 650V GaN devices along with end equipment featuring GaN devices.  Some of the demos on display were wireless power transfer, a 50% smaller motor driver, and 500 W solar inverter, along with static displays of 5 times smaller AC/DC adapters, 10 times lower jitter audio amplifiers, HEV/EV on-board chargers with a 3-times power density increase, and data center power supplies with a 50% power density increase. 

Transphorm displayed the TPH3205WSBQA, the world’s first automotive qualified (AEC-Q101) GaN FET.  The 650V 49mohm device, manufactured on a 6” GaN-on-Si line, increases power density by up to 40% and promises up to 20% lower overall system cost for HEV/EV chargers and DC/DC converters.  Also on display was a 3.3kW bridgeless totem-pole PFC reference design for data center applications with 99% efficiency across a broad output power range.

Infineon also highlighted their CoolGaNTM e-mode GaN HEMTs with a 3.6kW LCC resonant 380F-54V converter and showed their galvanically isolated EiceDRIVERTMICs along with their 1200V SiC MOSFETs.

Texas Instruments showed a compact 1.6-kW 1-MHz totem-pole PFC converter reference design for server, telecom and industrial power supplies utilizing their 600V GaN devices.  They also featured those devices in an 8kW three-phase bidirectional AC grid to DC bus converter jointly developed with Siemens.  The solution is applicable for PV inverters, offline PFC, HEV/EV on-board chargers and high-voltage battery storage systems.

STMicroelectronics touted their automotive grade 650V and 1200V silicon carbide power MOSFETs and Schottky diodes for vehicle electrification inverters, converters and chargers, claiming lower system costs through 5x form factor reduction and 50% cooling system downsizing.  They calculate 2 to 8% efficiency improvement, on average, resulting in more miles per charge and faster, more efficient charging.

ON Semiconductor announced their latest family of 650V silicon carbide Schottky diodes ranging from 6A to 50A.  They also featured a high accuracy simulation module of their SiC devices to help engineers tune their designs.  These modules run on most popular SPICE based simulators.

Low Power Applications

While high voltage devices were everywhere, low voltage parts also came to the party, often accompanied with advanced integration.  EPC (Efficient Power Conversion) featured integrated GaN devices including a single 200V FET plus integrated gate driver and dual 150V FETs plus gate driver, both in a 3.2 mm2 package footprint. They also demonstrated a 300W desk sized resonant wireless charging solution and a LiDAR demo for autonomous cars.

Dialog Semiconductor also demonstrated in-package integrated GaN devices in a compact 65W AC/DC USB charger while Navitas showed off a production 45W USB-PD Type C travel adaptor (Mu One) from Made in Mind that fits in your shirt pocket.  The 14mm profile Mu One is enabled by the Navitas AllGaNTM Power IC which combines the GaN FET drive on the same die as the FET saving board space and reducing parasitic effects for high frequency designs.

Conclusion

The number of SiC and GaN demos, reference designs and production devices present on the show floor was well beyond any previous APEC conference.  We believe that these wide band gap transistors are now ready to join SiC diodes in taking on their silicon equivalents in the market. This empirical evidence matches our soon to be published Power SiC and GaN research which forecasts total annual revenue of greater than $2B in 2023 and explosive growth to $12B by 2027.

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