GaN for RF electronics: GaN-on-SiC vs GaN-on-Si?

The GaN RF device market is expected to reach over US$2.4 billion by 2026. The production competition between GaN-on-SiC and GaN-on-Si emerges.


  • Market forecasts:
    The total GaN RF market’s value reached US$891 million in 2020.
    Yole Développement (Yole) announces a CAGR 2020- 2026 of 18%.
    The GaN-based macro/microcell will represent more than 95% of the total GaN telecom infrastructure market in 2026.
    GaN RF device market will be dominated by 5G telecom infrastructure and defense applications, representing 41% and 49% of the entire market by 2026, respectively.
  • Technology trends:
    GaN-on-SiC will grow from US$342 million in 2020 to US$2 222 million in 2026, with a 17% CAGR2020-2026.
    GaN-on-Si will grow from less than US$5 million in 2020 to US$173 million in 2026, with a 86% CAGR2020-2026.
    Driven by the 5G telecom and defense segments, GaN-on-SiC technology is still preferred in terms of high-power density and thermal conductivity.
    The transition to 6" is ongoing and expected to accelerate in the coming years.
  • Supply chain:
    Dominated by GaN-on-SiC technology, vertical integration has been preferred in both defense and 5G telecom applications.
    In the defense segment, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Chinese CETC are leading GaN adoption.
    Notable investments include Wolfspeed’s US$1 billion CapEx targeting capacity expansion by 2024; NXP’s first 6" fab which opened in 2020 in Arizona, US; Chinese SICC’s investment in a new 6" plant in Shanghai; and II-VI’s new 6" GaN fab in NJ.

“In view of the emerging GaN RF market, notable investments in recent years have been shaping the future relationship between demand and supply, which is important to watch closely.” asserts Ezgi Dogmus, PhD. Team Lead Analyst in Compound Semiconductor & Emerging Substrates activity within the Power & Wireless Division at Yole Développement (Yole).
She adds:
“GaN-on-SiC is the main technology platform. The market leader at device level, SEDI , has partnered with the leading SiC wafer supplier, II-VI, for vertical integration”.

In this dynamic context, Yole investigates technologies and related markets in depth. The market research and strategy consulting company points out the latest innovations and underlines the business opportunities.
Released today, the GaN RF Market: Applications, Players, Technology, and Substrates 2021 report is an overview of GaN RF markets with market and technology trends: telecom infrastructure, handset, defense, satellite communication, RF energy and civil radar. This report includes an overview on capacity expansion and company profiles of the leading suppliers such as NXP, Wolfspeed, SICC and II-VI and it provides GaN’s positioning amongst other competing technologies such as LDMOS and GaAs. Including market trends and forecasts, supply chain, technology trends, technical insights and analysis, take away and outlook, this study also points out the GaN-on-SiC and GaN-on-Si technology platforms including their market penetration, technological challenges and supply chain aspects.
What are the economic and technological challenges of the RF GaN industry? What are the key drivers and the related applications? GaN-on-Si vs Gan-on-SiC: what is the status of the production? Who are the suppliers to watch, and what innovative technologies are they working on?
Yole presents today its vision of the RF GaN industry.

As analyzed by Yole’s team in the new GaN RF Market: Applications, Players, Technology, and Substrates 2021 report, in 2020, NXP opened the world’s first 6” GaN-on-SiC fab in Arizona, US. These movements will further accelerate the evolution from 4” to 6” for GaN-on-SiC. At foundry level, major actors like Win Semiconductor are expanding their capacity to fulfill growing market demand. In addition, there is strong motivation of technology independence in the Chinese ecosystem, for example at SICC, CETC, HiWAFER and Sanan IC. Also, GaN-on-Si keeps attracting newcomers.
According to Selsabil SEJIL, PhD. Technology & Market Analyst, specialized in Compound Semiconductors and Emerging Substrates at Yole:
“Meanwhile, as Macom-STMicroelectronics’ development on 6” platform is ongoing, GlobalFoundries and Raytheon recently announced a partnership to target 5G wireless applications, defense and beyond. To serve increasing demand, newcomers have been joining with newly built capability”.

In the RF GaN industry, everything started with GaN-on-SiC technology. Launched more 20 years ago, GaN-on-SiC is now a serious rival to LDMOS and GaAs in RF power applications. In addition to its deep penetration in military radar, GaN-on-SiC has also been the choice of telecom OEM s such as Huawei, Nokia, Samsung for 5G massive MIMO infrastructures. Owing to their high bandwidth and efficiency, GaN-on-SiC devices keep taking share from LDMOS in the 5G market and are starting to benefit from a 6” wafer platform transition. In this context, the GaN-on-SiC device market is expected to reach over US$2.2 billion in 2026 by posting 17% CAGR2020-2026.
For Poshun Chiu, Technology & Market Analyst specializing in Compound Semiconductor and Emerging Substrates at Yole:
“However, as a key challenger, GaN-on-Si is still in the game, promising cost-efficient and scalable solutions. Despite the tiny market volume as of Q2/2021, GaN-on-Si PAs attract smartphones OEMs owing to their large bandwidth and small form factor. Its adoption in some sub-6GHz 5G handset models is likely soon, following the significant technology progress of innovative players. This would certainly mark a milestone for the GaN-on-Si RF industry”.
Recent entry of foundries and synergy with the emerging power electronics GaN-on-Si industry can also help GaN-on-Si RF to gain momentum in the longer term. Driven by handsets but also defense and 5G telecom infrastructure applications, the GaN-on-Si device market is expected to reach US$173 million in 2026 by posting 86% CAGR2020-2026.

All year long, Yole Group of Companies, including System Plus Consulting and Yole Développement publishes numerous reports and monitors. In addition, experts realize various key presentations and organize key conferences. Make sure to be aware of the latest news coming from the industry and get an overview of our activities, including interviews with leading companies and more on i-Micronews. Stay tuned!

GaN: Gallium Nitride
RF: Radio Frequency
CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate
GaN-on-SiC: Gallium Nitride on Silicon Carbide
SEDI: Sumitomo Electric Device Innovations
OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer