What Customers Are Asking About An Amazing New Technology – GaN-based Power System Solutions
Jul 24, 2018
Enhancement-mode GaN power devices, (eGaN® FETs and ICs) provide the path for users to differentiate their end products. This new technology gives significantly higher efficiencies in the ever-present power supply and delivery circuits that fuel our gadgets and electronic equipment.
As the sales manager for the Americas, I am in the enviable position of working with customers to create a new vision of excellence so they continue to lead in their market space and contribute optimizing power consumption by reducing energy consumption.
Power systems designs introducing new technologies and approaches is always met with curiosity and evaluation. Customers always ask the most fundamental and far-reaching questions about the attributes and implementation of new technologies. Therefore, I thought documenting the most common questions I have received will help others considering the use of GaN technology pave the way to their confident adoption of this transitional technology.
A few questions that have been asked by customers
What are the major advantages of GaN in power?
GaN offers these fundamental advantages over silicon technology; increased levels of efficiency, faster switching speeds, and smaller size. In addition to these basic advantages, GaN offers new levels of power density, operating in higher frequencies without performance penalties and it provides terrific current handling capabilities. GaN power devices from EPC are extremely small and competitively priced versus silicon MOSFETS. All EPC eGaN solutions are offered in wafer level chip-scale packages with excellent thermal characteristics.
Are gallium nitride devices reliable?
Absolutely! Over the past eight years, EPC has been delivering GaN devices to a variety of applications, with over 30 billion field hours of error-free use recorded. EPC has published nine reliability reports presenting the results of millions of hours of accelerated reliability tests. These tests are above and beyond the industry standards for MOSFETs and, further confirming the reliability of GaN technology, EPC has recently released a family of parts that have passed rigid automotive industry’s AEQ-Q101 qualification tests.
Is it cost competitive?
Yes, both systems savings and examples of component parity are here today. EPC processes all its GaN products using standard CMOS production lines, have the same yield profile as silicon devices and, due to its high switching speeds, allow complementing circuitry, such as magnetics and capacitors, to be smaller and less expensive. As a matter of fact, the higher the performance required of the GaN devices, the more competitive value customers can build into their end-use products.
Are there different designs considerations verses a silicon technology solution?
Yes. Moving from silicon-based to a GaN-based solution is like moving from a 4-cylinder automobile engine to a Tesla Model S with ludicrous mode! eGaN FETs behave like N-channel MOSFETs so the fundamental concepts of system design are the same, but to take full advantage of the high performance fast switching capabilities, small form factor and unique gate structure benefits requires a few different design considerations. Specifically, attention to layout details is key to minimize inductance and 6 V (max) gate drive needs to be supported.
Can the supply chain meet my production needs?
EPC has been designing and producing GaN FETs and ICs for over eight years and support customers with high-level production quantities. EPC uses standard CMOS manufacturing facilities, thus production-run capacity is readily available. Lead times average 8 to 12 weeks.
Who is using GaN solutions today?
EPC GaN solutions are appearing in a wide range of applications including power conversion, automotive, medical, industrial, space, and consumer. More specifically, GaN-based 48 V and 12 V power conversion, laser drivers (LiDAR), high precision motor control, high-fidelity audio, and LED lighting circuits are in the market NOW!
New technologies bring new solutions -- new higher performance solutions for traditional applications and solutions for never before achievable applications. New technologies must “earn” their place as an alternative technology and GaN is going through this “adoption” period now. EPC is sharing the questions that we are hearing from customers to expand the number of customers using this new, higher performing technology to differentiate their end products.