What are the advantages of GaN on Silicon?

What are the advantages of GaN on Silicon over GaN on SiC (Silicon Carbide)?

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May 3, 2018

For decades, laterally diffused metal oxide semiconductor (LDMOS) technology has dominated the RF semiconductor markets in commercial volume applications. Today, the balance has shifted, and Gallium Nitride on Silicon (GaN-on-Si) technology has emerged as the technology of choice to succeed legacy LDMOS technology in several of these RF markets.

GaN-on-Si’s performance advantages over LDMOS are firmly established – it can deliver over 70% power efficiency, and upward of 4X to 6X more power per unit area, with scalability to high frequencies. In parallel, comprehensive testing data has affirmed GaN-on-Si’s ability to conform to stringent reliability requirements, and to replicate and even exceed the RF performance and reliability of expensive Gallium Nitride on Silicon Carbide (GaN-on-SiC) alternative technology.

GaN-on-Si’s ascension to the forefront of the RF semiconductor industry comes at a pivotal moment in the evolution of commercial wireless infrastructure. Its proven performance leadership over LDMOS technology is driving its adoption within the newest generation of 4G LTE basestations, and positioning it as the likely de facto enabling technology for 5G wireless infrastructure going forward, with seismic market implications that could extend far beyond mobile phone connectivity, encompassing transportation, industrial and entertainment applications, among many others.

Looking further ahead, GaN-on-Si-based RF technologies have the potential to supplant antiquated magnetron and spark plug technologies to unlock the full value and promise of commercial solid-state RF energy applications, spanning cooking, lighting, automotive ignition and beyond, where huge gains in energy/fuel efficiency and heating and lighting precision are believed to be on the horizon.

Given the unprecedented pace and scale of the impending 5G infrastructure build-out in particular, there’s been increased attention on the cost structures, manufacturing and surge capacities, and supply chain flexibility and surety inherent to GaN-on-Si relative to LDMOS and GaN-on-SiC. GaN-on-Si stands alone as the superior semiconductor technology for next-generation wireless infrastructure, offering the potential for GaN performance at LDMOS-like cost structures at scaled volume production levels, with the commercial manufacturing scalability to support massive demand.


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