GaN goes mainstream as costs drop

GaN goes mainstream as costs drop

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

At the IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium in Montreal this week, NXP Semiconductors is demonstrating its full portfolio of first-generation GaN products, and discussing its vision and roadmap related to GaN. Core to that vision is the concept of “mainstream GaN” — bringing economies of scale and over 30 years of experience in RF power transistors to enable innovation and a secure, reliable supply chain for RF GaN products.

“Since announcing our commitment to ‘mainstream GaN’ last year, we’ve received a great deal of interest in our GaN offerings and have worked intensively with a handful of key customers to refine our first-generation GaN portfolio,” said Mark Murphy, director of marketing, RF power product line, NXP Semiconductors. “At the same time, by offering our customers a choice between high-performance GaN and LDMOS — and in some situations a mix of both — we’re in the unique position of being able to offer unbiased choices for fully optimized designs, depending on the specific requirements of each application.”

NXP currently offers engineering samples of its first-generation GaN products, including the CLF1G0035-50 and CLF1G0035-100 amplifiers for 50 W and 100 W broadband applications. At IMS2012, NXP will demonstrate live application examples, including a multi-stage GaN line-up covering a 200 to 2700 MHz frequency band. Using the CLF1G0060-10 driver, as well as the CLF1G0035-50 amplifier for the output stage, the GaN line-up features 50 V GaN technology and best-in-class linearity. Due to the higher impedance levels of the 50 V GaN process, broadband amplifiers can be designed on a single transistor.

Based on a 0.5 µm gate-length technology developed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer IAF Institute in Freiburg, as well as United Monolithic Semiconductors (UMS) in Ulm, Germany, NXP’s first-generation GaN amplifiers deliver high linearity without compromise in power, ruggedness and efficiency, significantly reducing component count and amplifier footprint. Thes collaboration with UMS and Fraunhofer IAF Institute also establishes a Europe-based supply chain for GaN technology.

NXP will be ramping up for volume production and offering engineering samples of additional GaN amplifiers in Q3 and Q4.

Mainstream GaN tomorrow

At IMS2012, NXP will also be featuring advanced applications using GaN, including a live Class E amplifier tuned for 2.45 GHz, showing the breakthrough efficiency enabled by GaN. Featuring a transistor with internal Class E harmonic matching, the amplifier achieves best-in-class efficiency of 75.2% at 24 W at 2.45 GHz. Based on a 0.25 µm gate-length technology currently under development, the company plans to make its high-efficiency Class E narrow-band GaN solutions available in 2013.

NXP is also developing a digital power amplifier using GaN switching transistors that offer higher efficiency than linear amplifiers. These switched-mode power amplifiers (SMPAs) can be used in multiple bands without any modification to the hardware, and will be a key driver of the “ultimate” base station of the future. Like the company’s other GaN processes, the 0.25 µm GHSM process uses SiC substrates for better reliability, superior RF performance, and enhanced thermal management, further underscoring the advantages of an unbiased approach to GaN.

While RF GaN has already gained significant traction in the aerospace and defense market, NXP is also focusing on future growth areas including wireless infrastructure and base stations, energy transfer, and the sensing and imaging markets.

See the video preview of the NXP GaN demo at IMS2012:
For more details on GaN solutions from NXP:

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