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GaN power semiconductor 2023 predictions

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By Nick Flaherty


GaN Systems has made its predictions for 2023, covering the supply chain for power semiconductors to increasing sustainability regulations in data centres and electric vehicles.

“We are at the inflection point for power GaN technology,” says the company.

With the strong momentum of the electrification megatrend and an increasing number of products containing semiconductors, economic winners and losers will be determined mainly by those who can better manage their supply chains that not only enable the production of existing goods for businesses and consumers – yet stoke the fires of innovation for the near future.

Supply Chain boost

In 2023, GaN Systems predicts that the global semiconductor supply chain will work towards developing a  substantial US and European presence in both engineering design and manufacturing.

In the United States, this means embracing a national strategic semiconductor policy – rather than politically convenient. The CHIPS and Science Act is expected to catalyze the geographic diversification of the semiconductor industry in the U.S. during the next four years. The substantial economic muscle in the form of $52.7 billion in grants, loans, and tax credits will drive investment in design, foundry, and fabrication facilities. Large chip manufacturers will receive as much as $2.5 to $3.0 billion for each new fabrication facility they build in the U.S.

To accelerate next-generation chip design and production, the broad investment program within the EU Chips Act will focus on increasing production capacities and improving the ability to identify and respond to the semiconductor supply crises. Above all, the E.U. Chips Act aims to strengthen Europe’s research and technology leadership, which consists of the capabilities, capacities, and controls necessary to act on long-term economic and societal objectives.

Semiconductor packaging will be addressed in the shorter term, with factory additions in Vietnam and India. A large portion of semiconductor wafer fabrication will remain in Taiwan (68% of all semiconductors and 90% of advanced chips). This will continue to expose the semiconductor industry to regional ‘single source’ vulnerability as fabrication expansion in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. builds out over several years.

Sustainability

Sustainability and profitability will be dual drivers of business success. For example, using GaN semiconductors will increase revenue through greater data density in data centres and also help to meet sustainability metrics for products and operations.

Pressures will increase for mass rollouts of technology for large-scale renewable energy collection, storage, and use.  More energy-efficient power inverters, DC-DC converters, and energy-dense storage will be needed in on-demand solar power systems.

“In 2023 and beyond, we predict that there will be a natural acceleration of GaN demand to ensure a more sustainable future. GaN power semiconductors aim to conserve energy and miniaturize devices by capitalizing on high switching speeds and low ON resistance,” it said.

Data Centres

As data centres refresh hardware every three to five years, compounded with the EU Eco-design Lot 9 efficiency regulatory requirements in effect, there will be a significant opportunity for GaN to replace silicon in both rackmount power supplies and the individual redundant power supplies in servers. This upgrade of servers and build-out of server racks using GaN power supplies will lead by the innovative work from OEMs such as Intel and H.P. More server and rack power supply companies will follow, adopting GaN and making GaN ‘the standard’ for the industry.

New standards from tech giants will accelerate change to higher efficiency and smaller form factors for power supplies.  The M-CRPS standard from the Open Computer Project (OCP) will decrease the size of server power supplies by 30%. Legacy silicon MOSFETs will struggle to deliver on this standard while GaN excels here. Additionally, OCP designs, many targeted for hyperscale computing, have increasing demands for very high energy efficiency, a characteristic best delivered by GaN.

The demands on power supplies will increase the use of GaN to increase efficiency via its properties of lower switching and conduction losses and to increase power density via operating at higher frequencies than the ability of alternative technologies. Smaller and more highly efficient GaN-based power supplies directly lower a data centre’s power bills and indirectly reduce cooling system costs.

EVs

High-performance GaN solutions in the design stage of automotive platforms in 2022-2023 will be mainstream in 2025-2026, delivering lower cost and more energy-efficient power solutions.

OEMs are increasingly moving into production with GaN, which will accelerate in 2023. GaN semiconductor companies will begin to see their share of E.V. designs increase as more 400V system designs rise in importance and multi-level GaN solutions for 800V systems are validated. The company also points to the competing silicon carbide (SiC) technologies experiencing continued material shortages, yield challenges, and cost concerns, although this is challenged by the SiC suppliers.

Consumer electronics

GaN has already made significant in-roads into consumer charger designs, from the popular 45W and 65W chargers to the growing market for higher power 100-180W chargers with both single and multiple port variations

For audio, new Class D audio systems design will accelerate with the adoption of ‘building blocks’ for GaN products that enable audio systems designers across markets to mix and match designs and maximize performance for their specific applications.

Growth in new application areas, such as home appliances, large screen T.V.s, E-bikes, and power tools, will result from companies’ acknowledgment of GaN’s mainstream position and value in consumer electronics and their validation of GaN-based system designs. Innovative GaN-powered products in these markets will hit the consumer market in 2023-2024.

“As global companies continue to face pressure to drive both profitability and sustainability, GaN technology takes on an even higher level of importance,” said Jim Witham, CEO of GaN Systems. “Despite significant global economic and geopolitical headwinds of the last three years, GaN is now recognized as a widely-adopted technology estimated to reach $2 Billion by 2027, driven by rising use in consumer electronics, automotive applications, data centres, and industrial and electric vehicles. As such, companies will continue to accelerate their commitment to greater energy efficiency, and we’ll see profitability and sustainability drive $6bn GaN Growth.”

www.gansystems.com


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