Buyers’ guide to GaN

As increasing numbers of applications deploy GaN technology, Electronics Sourcing asked Innoscience Europe’s GM, Dr Denis Marcon, for a purchasing overview

Q. GaN technology is gaining footholds in new applications. Where is the demand coming from and why does the market need this capacity now? 

A. GaN is a more efficient switching technology than silicon. The only reason it has not been widely implemented before was a perceived difficulty in using it and product availability. New GaN-based solutions are as easy to use as silicon-based devices. Demand is coming from chargers/adapters, mobile phones, automotive, lighting, appliances, LLC converters, data centres—anywhere efficiency and power density are valued.  

Q. What component technologies will GaN push aside? 

A. GaN will gradually replace Si power transistors and, once GaN is suitable for higher voltages, will also take over the SiC power transistor market. 

Q. Purchasers will start seeing GaN components on their BoMs for the first time. What will this supply chain look like and will it differ from GaN’s predecessors? 

A. There is no reason why the supply chain should look any different from silicon. New names will appear—Innoscience being one of them—but many familiar brands will likely remain, having switched partially (or fully) from silicon to GaN. GaN components are still semiconductor devices, processed on the same manufacturing line used for silicon. They are familiar in function but extraordinary in performance. 

Q. How can purchasers trust new suppliers when using them for the first time? 

A. Purchasers must employ due diligence as with any new supplier. Innoscience is well funded with backing from international names such as ARM, SK Hynix, CMB International and CATL. The company’s 8in GaN-on-Si fabs are certified; the Zhuhai fab already has  IATF 16949:2016 certification for automotive device design and manufacturing; and the Suzhou fab will be IATF qualified soon. 

Moreover, Innoscience’s devices are qualified to JEDEC and the company performs advanced reliability tests (DHTOL, SALT etc) to assure quality. Innoscience has passed several customer quality inspections and has shipped over 30M devices worldwide to customers including Anker, Hesai, ugreen and more. All manufacturing is in-house: epi-growth, device design, processing and qualification. 

Q. How are buyers protected from obsolescence in this fast moving sector? 

A. Innoscience guarantees continued device manufacturing for several years. The company believes in strong relationships, consulting customers before making products obsolete and giving an agreed notice period for last-time-buy or suggesting alternatives where possible.  

Q. How is this high value sector combatting counterfeiting? 

A. Innoscience is building a network of trusted supply chain partners which we will soon be announcing. These will include some of the biggest names in global distribution. Buyers should only purchase directly from Innoscience or one of its supply chain partners to be assured of genuine product. 

Q. What would a first-time Gan buyer’s purchasing check-list read like? 

A. In short: 

Security of Supply: does the manufacturer own/control its epi-growth and manufacturing facility? What is the maximum capacity? What percentage is in use and foreseen in coming five years? How many devices/wafers can it guarantee over five years? What are capacity expansion plans? Does it operate business lines that might jeopardize GaN attention? Does it hold relevant stock? 

Device quality: Which reliability tests are performed? Are accelerated tests used for lifetime extraction?  

Price: What is the price scaling in volume? 

Support: What level of application design support is offered?