The rise of GaN on Si to take on high-power and high-volume markets: Page 2 of 3

December 03, 2014 //By Jean-Pierre Joosting
GaN technology has already made an impact on the high performance and RF market, but according to MACOM this is just the beginning. The company is in a unique position to offer customers products in most process technologies including GaAs, InP, SiGe, SiPh, GaN and CMOS.
RF and microwave industry can be serviced in a few weeks by a single 8” silicon factory that’s built to service the power conversion market.”

The road to mainstream commercialisation

As GaN transitions from a niche, expensive process to a high-volume commercial process, the technical merits of GaN technology must be fully realized and clearly demonstrated on silicon substrates and, secondly, a scalable, stable supply chain must be established. GaN on Si has already demonstrated its technical merits in terms of power density and efficiency, easily beating GaAs and LDMOS. In the high end RF and microwave market power density and efficiency are critical considerations, hence the massive interest in GaN on Si.

Establishing a reliable and stable supply chain entails two key steps in the manufacturing chain: firstly, a cost-effective and scalable supply of GaN wafers is needed; secondly, the processing of these wafers through high-volume silicon fabs is needed.

To this end, MACOM recently announced an agreement with IQE, a leading supplier of GaAs, who will scale high-volume, cost-effective supply of GaN materials for cost sensitive, high-volume applications. IQE has the operational experience, competence and capital structure to scale production of GaN materials. MACOM also offer the industry’s only secure dual sourced GaN supply chain.

John Croteau contends that as with GaAs, we expect a bifurcation in the GaN supply chain for low volume applications. Cost-sensitive applications will go the path of 8” GaN on Si. At the same time, capital-lite fabs will service diverse, low-volume applications with specialty GaN processes.

“As much as 50% of GaN revenues today are attributable to government programs, not commercial production. Just as GaAs went from esoteric technology to high-volume market mainstay, GaN is now poised to do the same,” says John Croteau.

“At maturity, we believe that GaN on Si will benefit from silicon cost structures that are 3x lower than today’s highest volume GaAs and 100x lower cost than today’s

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