4 June 2019: At the IEEE’s International Microwave Symposium (IMS 2019) in Boston, MA, USA (4–6 June), NXP Semiconductors N.V. of Eindhoven, The Netherlands has unveiled what it claims is the first RF power transistor designed for RF energy using gallium nitride on silicon carbide (GaN-on-SiC). Leveraging the high efficiency of GaN, the MRF24G300HS exceeds the efficiency of most magnetrons at 2.45GHz, while the high thermal conductivity of SiC helps to ensure continuous wave (CW) operation. For more than 50 years, 2.45GHz magnetrons have been widely used in consumer and industrial applications ranging from microwave ovens to high-power welding machines. Solid-state solutions appeared on the market several years ago, bringing advanced control, reliability and ease of use. The capability to dynamically adjust the power, frequency and phase helps to optimize the energy transmitted to the material or food being heated. The long lifetime of transistors at full rated performance reduces the need for replacements. However, until the advent of GaN-on-SiC for RF energy, solid-state devices lacked the efficiency to meet the incumbent magnetrons’ performance standards. The MRF24G300HS is a 330W CW, 50V GaN-on-SiC transistor, demonstrating 73% drain efficiency at 2.45GHz, which is five points higher than the latest LDMOS silicon technologies. The high power density of GaN enables the device to reach high output power in a small footprint. GaN technology has an inherently high output impedance that allows broadband matching compared with LDMOS. This reduces the design time and ensures consistency on the manufacturing line, so no more hand tuning is needed. The simplified gate biasing of the MRF24G300HS RF transistor removes another step of the otherwise complex power-up sequence typically seen on GaN devices. “The smart control, low maintenance and ease of use of solid-state open the door to new use cases, such as smart cooking and industry 4.0 heating machines,” says Paul Hart, senior VP & general manager of NXP’s Radio Power Solutions. “By breaking the efficiency barrier of vacuum tubes, we enable our customers to unlock innovation without any compromise on performance.” The MRF24G300HS RF transistor is sampling now and production is planned for third-quarter 2019. The 2400-2500MHz reference circuit is available now, under order number MRF24G300HS-2450MHZ. As part of the NXP Partner Program, Prescient Wireless Inc has designed a 2-up, 550W power amplifier pallet with 45dB of gain, which will be shown at IMS. 4 June 2019:
20 May 2019: The monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6% from $7.7bn in 2019 to $12.7bn by 2024, according to a report from Global Information Inc. Factors driving growth include: increased demand from the smartphone industry; increasing adoption of E-band frequencies to meet the growing bandwidth requirements of the space, defense and wireless communication infrastructure sectors; and rising defense spending of countries globally.
Power amplifier segment to hold largest market share
Most power amplifiers are designed for a specific application producing a specific type of signal, signal modulation scheme, and a set of specifications such as frequency range, gain (dB), gain flatness (dB), supply voltage (VDC), power decibels (dB-milliwatt), and package type. MMICs developed using GaN offer high input power survivability of 40dBm, potentially eliminating the requirement for a power limiter in broadband communication, electronic warfare (EW) instrumentation or radar applications. Growth of this segment can be attributed to the increased use of power amplifiers in defense, automotive, smartphone and wireless communication applications, driven by the continuously growing demand for high data transfer rates in communication systems.
GaN material segment to grow at highest CAGR
As well as its high-brightness emission in optoelectronics, gallium nitride (GaN) is an emerging alternative to silicon due to its high power efficiency, superior high-frequency handling capacity and its flexibility to be used with various substrates such as silicon, sapphire and silicon carbide (SiC). Since it is a hard and mechanically stable material with a wide bandgap and high heat capacity and thermal conductivity, MMICs developed using GaN offer large bandwidth, improved power density and high efficiency to support the future cellular infrastructure such as 5G for the mobile base-station transmitters.
E-pHEMT device segment to grow fastest
Enhancement-mode pseudomorphic high-electron-mobility transistors (E-pHEMTs) offer superior output power and high efficiency with bias voltages of less than +3VDC. For commercial communication systems, E-pHEMTs offer a combination of high gain, low noise and wide dynamic range in high-linearity MMIC applications. These transistors can economically provide superior electrical performance in very high frequency (VHF) and ultra high frequency (UHF) wireless communication bands commonly associated with technologies such as gallium arsenide (GaAs) MESFETs and depletion-mode pHEMTs.
Asia Pacific to be largest market by region
Asia Pacific was the largest MMIC market by geographic region in 2018. The main growth drivers are the expanding cellular infrastructure in the region and the increasing number of telecom equipment shipments in countries such as China and India. Japan has been a dominant player in the global semiconductor industry since the 1960s, while the strategy of China is to develop the highest-performance products at the lowest cost, which has helped it gain a large share of the Asia Pacific MMIC market. The increased production of electronic devices in the region due to the low manufacturing cost and availability of cheap labor is another growth driver. Rising demand for smartphones, digital televisions, automobile electronics, and electro-medical devices in the Asia Pacific region is expected to contribute to growth of the MMIC market in the region.
Key players in the MMIC market are cited as Analog Devices (USA), NXP Semiconductor (Netherlands), MACOM (USA), Qorvo (USA), Skyworks Solutions (USA), Broadcom (USA), Infineon Technologies (Germany), Maxim Integrated (USA), Mini-Circuits (USA), OMMIC (France), WIN Semiconductors (Taiwan), United Monolithic Semiconductors (UMS) (France), Custom MMIC Design Services (USA), Microarray Technologies (China), VectraWave (France), BeRex (South Korea), and Arralis (Ireland).
(주)아이브이웍스가 6월 4일부터 6일까지 IMS 2019 전시회에 참가합니다.
13 May 2019: In recent years, EPC has been introducing ever-smaller, cheaper and higher-performing chips. Recently delivering 100V eGaN FETs for 48V DC-DC conversion in servers and automotives, as well as automotive-qualified 80 V eGaN FETs for lidar applications in autonomous vehicles, Lidow says device costs now rival those of silicon chips. “We’ve shrunk the die so much that, for the same ratings, we price our products at or below silicon [prices],” he says. “Price comparisons with silicon MOSFETS at a range of performance levels show that whether we’re at low or high volumes, we’re priced at the below average point.” “And of course, the performance of GaN devices is so much superior to silicon MOSFETs at 48V,” he adds. “So our devices are smaller and more efficient than silicon MOSFETs, yet the same price, so what’s not to like?” For EPC chief executive, Alex Lidow, this year’s PCIM Europe 2019 has been all about applications. Presenting myriad enhanced-mode GaN FETs and ICs in end-products, the company is making a big play for 48 V DC-DC power conversion in advanced computing and automotives. “The market that we are making a full-frontal attack on, is silicon at 48 V input,” he says. “We can get higher performance from GaN at a lower cost and with less design time… just think what it’s going to be like in a few years.” “It’s been a race and GaN has always been in front on performance but not on price,” he adds. “But now we’re in front on performance and price, and we’re also accelerating; silicon’s stuck in the mud.”
With market penetration a priority, Lidow has his sights set on data-centre and automotive applications. Following the success of the Open Compute Project – an organisation that shares designs of data-centre products – engineers are moving to 48 V rack-level power distribution systems to boost energy efficiency of the latest high performance computers and servers for data centres. “We have this movement towards 48V… and today the preferred solutions are LLC-converter and buck converter [power conversion] topologies,” highlights Lidow. “And here, I will say with all due modesty, our products have swept all the new designs. Almost all of this is coming out of Asia, and it’s a big deal for us.” Meanwhile, the automotive industry continues its shift from 12 V to 48 V electrical distribution buses, particularly in mild hybrid vehicles, to handle power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, suspension, high-intensity headlamps, start-stop systems and more. What’s more, new applications such as autonomous vehicles equipped with sensors, lidar and radar are also emerging. As such, Tier 1 automotive suppliers are busy developing 48 V electrical systems, as well as bi-directional systems to support both 48 V and 12 V legacy accessories. “Given all of this, automotives is huge for us,” says Lidow. “For example, the minute you go to even a mild hybrid vehicle, you have more electrical components drawing more and more power.” “We have 80 V and 100 V FETs auto-qualified for DC to DC, lidar and headlamp applications and we’re also designing into infotainment and radar systems,” he adds. “There’s a heavy design effort here right now and the market will really be starting to reach volume [production] in 2021.” Indeed, for the EPC chief executive, the real action for GaN still lies at 400 V and lower, where the semiconductor’s high frequency and switching speeds are imperative for applications such as lidar. “[Compared to lower voltages], the 600 V GaN market is a crowded field right now and has key vulnerabilities,” he says. “For starters, it’s not such a performance-sensitive market, and both silicon and silicon carbide are also gunning for that 600 V node.” At the same time, he highlights how remote control electronics are enabling the use of multi-level converters to hit the higher voltages. Case-in-point, at this year’s PCIM, EPC demonstrated a 400 V input power factor correction circuit made from 200 V devices stacked in series. “In this way you can pick up the higher power density at a lower cost,” he says. “So at these higher voltages, the threats for GaN are coming in from all directions… I’m not saying this isn’t a valid market but it’s going to be a difficult slog.” So where next for EPC and GaN? In short, integration and monolithic GaN ICs. In March this year, EPC revealed a monolithic half-bridge GaN transistor with level shifters and drivers integrated onto the chip. The transistors are currently with alpha-customers and Lidow expects to launch devices towards the end of this Summer. What’s more, he believes this latest IC marks the beginning of a new era for GaN power components. “Today we see power components as transistors or diodes but I predict this [monolithic device] will redefine what a power components is,” he says. “And I will also say that in five years, I doubt we will be launching discrete GaN transistors at all; instead we’ll be launching power products that have features and functions.”
7 May 2019: As part of its long-term growth strategy, Cree Inc of Durham, NC, USA is to invest up to $1bn over five years in expanding its silicon carbide capacity with the development of an automated 200mm silicon carbide fabrication facility ($450m) and a materials mega factory ($450m) at its US campus headquarters in Durham (toghether with $100m in other investments associated with growing the business), marking the firm’s largest investment to date in fueling its Wolfspeed silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride on silicon carbide (GaN-on-SiC) business. Upon completion in 2024, the facilities will substantially increase the firm’s silicon carbide materials capability and wafer fabrication capacity, targeting wide-bandgap semiconductor solutions that are enabling the technology shifts underway within the automotive, communications infrastructure and industrial markets. “We continue to see great interest from the automotive and communications infrastructure sectors to leverage the benefits of silicon carbide to drive innovation. However, the demand for silicon carbide has long surpassed the available supply,” says CEO Gregg Lowe. “We are announcing our largest-ever investment in production to dramatically increase this supply and help customers deliver transformative products and services to the marketplace,” he adds. “This investment in equipment, infrastructure and our workforce is capable of increasing our silicon carbide wafer fabrication capacity up to 30-fold and our materials production by up to 30-fold compared to Q1 of fiscal year 2017, which is when we began the first phase of capacity expansion. We believe this will allow us to meet the expected growth in Wolfspeed silicon carbide material and device demand over the next five years and beyond.” The plan will deliver additional capacity for its Wolfspeed silicon carbide business through the build out of an existing structure as a 253,000ft2, 200mm power & RF wafer fabrication facility as an initial step to serve the projected market demand. The new North Fab is designed to be fully automotive qualified and will provide nearly 18 times more surface area for manufacturing than exists currently, opening initially with the production of 150mm wafers. The firm will convert its existing Durham fabrication and materials facility into a materials mega factory. “These silicon carbide manufacturing mega-hubs will accelerate the innovation of today’s fastest-growing markets by producing solutions that help extend the range and reduce the charge times for electric vehicles, as well as support the rollout of 5G networks around the world,” says Lowe. “This represents the largest capital investment in the history of silicon carbide and GaN technologies and production with a fiscally responsible approach,” he believes. “By using existing facilities and installing a majority of refurbished tools, we believe we will be able to deliver a state-of-the-art 200mm-capable fab at approximately one-third of the cost of a new fab.” The expanded campus will also create high-tech job opportunities and serve as an advanced manufacturing workforce development initiative. Cree plans to partner with state and local community and four-year colleges to develop training programs to prepare its workforce for the long-term employment and growth opportunities that the new facilities will present.