“Mainstream GaN” Today and Tomorrow:
Spotlight on NXP’s High-Performance GaN Solutions at International Microwave Symposium 2012
Recognized as a compelling alternative to silicon for many RF applications, GaN (gallium nitride) technology has generated significant industry interest due to its performance advantages, but has faced significant challenges related to cost – until now. At IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium in Montreal this week, NXP Semiconductors will demonstrate its full portfolio of first-generation GaN products (booth 607), and discuss 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. Now we are in the unique position of being able to offer unbiased choices for fully optimized designs, depending on the specific requirements of each application,” said Mark Murphy, director of marketing, RF power product line, NXP Semiconductors.
At IMS2012, NXP demonstrated live applications including a multi-stage GaN line-up covering a 200 – 2700 MHz frequency band. Using NXP’s new CLF1G0060-10 driver, as well as the CLF1G0035-50 amplifier for the output stage, the GaN line-up features 50V GaN technology and best-in-class linearity. Due to the higher impedance levels of the 50V 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 feature excellent linearity without compromise in power, ruggedness and efficiency, significantly reducing component count and amplifier footprint. NXP’s collaboration with UMS and Fraunhofer IAF Institute also establishes a Europe-based supply chain for GaN technology.
Mainstream GaN Tomorrow
At IMS2012, NXP also be featured 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% @ 24W at 2.45 GHz. Based on a 0.25 µm gate-length technology currently under development, NXP 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 NXP’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.