How will GaN and SiC technologies cohabite?


  • The SiC market is expected to treble and GaN is expected to explode - If challenges are overcome.
  • Companies are moving in the right direction to overcome the remaining technical challenges to accelerate adoption of WBG devices.
  • Will GaN and SiC compete for the same power electronics applications?
  • Recent financial moves indicate market confidence in WBG devices.

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LYON, France – September 14, 2015:Gallium nitride (GaN) devices market is expected to explode, announces Yole Développement (Yole) in its technology and market analysis entitled “GaN & SiC for power electronics applications”. Under this report released last July, the “More than Moore” market research and strategy consulting company, Yole proposes two scenarios, from 2014 to 2020, based on the penetration rate of GaN: the differentiating factor, compared with the silicon carbide (SiC) solutions’ adoption, is mainly focused on below 200V and 600V applications… After the adoption phase of the Wide Band Gap (WBG) technologies, how will GaN and SiC technologies cohabite? Will they enter in direct competition or become complementary technologies?
In parallel, Yole’s partner, KnowMade proposes another analysis of the GaN market with a detailed patent investigation, entitled Power GaN Devices for Power Electronics (Sep. 2015). This report reviews the challenges dedicated to the technologies, analyze the business opportunities and detail a competitive IP landscape.

GaN &SiC report proposes a detailed analysis of the applications where GaN and SiC can be used including PFC, EV/HEV, PV, UPS, motor drive, wing wireless power, envelop tracking, Lidar … It includes the projections for GaN lateral device and SiC power device markets up to 2020. Yole’s analysts propose detailed roadmaps for WBG technologies and their main remaining challenges. They also describe the industry landscape with its players and their strategy of development.

GaN technologies potentially have a huge Total Accessible Market (TAM), and its adoption would therefore be significant. The starting point and the growth rate are directly linked to two question marks:
-  How will the emerging applications of low voltage GaN applications expand and how GaN technologies will be adopted by them?
-  Will 600V devices make their way into market?
Under this new SiC and GaN report focused on the applications, Yole has integrated both variables in developing two scenarios for the GaN devices market up to 2020. Yole’s analysis is based on the penetration rate of GaN in different applications including DC-DC conversion, Lidar, envelope tracking, wireless power, and PFC…
“In the nominal scenario, we estimate the GaN device market size will be US$ 303 million in 2020,” explains Dr Hong Lin, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole. And she adds: “In the accelerated scenario, where low voltage GaN and 600V GaN are rapidly adopted, market figure for 2020 reaches US$ 560M”. Indeed emerging applications, namely envelope tracking, wireless power and Lidar, together will consume one third of GaN transistors. In both scenarios low voltage applications below 200V are expected to be the major contributors to the market. This analysis is described in details by Yole’s team in the GaN & SiC report, applications focus.

Both SiC and GaN technologies have been adopted. But will they compete for the same power electronics applications? Or could we expect a wise breakdown towards the numerous power electronics applications? According to Yole, after years of discussion about whether it would be GaN or SiC, the answer is now clearer than ever. And the company explains:
-  SiC diodes (Between 600V and 3300V) have existed on the market for over 14 years, and are becoming a mature technology, leaving no room for GaN diodes.
-  GaN transistors have made their way into low voltage applications (Lower than 600V), which SiC devices will find difficult to challenge: commercial SiC transistors exist in the 600-3300V range. Indeed, compared to GaN lateral devices, SiC technologies benefit at voltages over 1200 V is now widely recognized. In early 2015, at PCIM Europe, SiC device leader, Cree launched its 900 V platform. According to Yole’s analysts, this announcement is considered by the market as a significant move for SiC devices: it confirms its intention to address 900 V and lower voltage applications.
At the same time, GaN players are also trying to enter the 600V market. “Applications such as PFC, on-board chargers, and low voltage-high voltage DC-DC converters for automotive will therefore be the main battle fields for GaN and SiC in the coming years,” says Dr Hong from Yole.

But what is important to know is: in the end, integrators do not care what the chips they buy are made of. They only want suitable devices at reasonable prices to make a system desired by the market. Under this context, the real competition is not between GaN and SiC, explains Yole in its latest report, but WBG versus incumbent silicon-based technology. One example: Silicon IGBT technology is progressing, becoming better and cheaper. In the future, the market will not be as dominated by silicon-based devices as it is today, but more diversified. A collection of devices, including silicon, GaN, SiC and others that are yet to be developed, will find their own niches.
This technology & market analysis is part of Yole’s latest SiC & GaN report, applications focus. To discover a detailed description, go to i-micronews.com, compound semiconductor reports section.

Yole is supporting the Power Electronics session at SEMICON Europa 2015 (Dresden, Germany – Oct. 6-8, 2015). The company will present its latest analysis in Wide Band Gap (WBG) for the power electronic. Discover the agenda on i-micronews.com and register right now. To meet Yole’s team and discuss with the analysts, contact Clotilde Fabre to set up face to face meetings at Yole’s booth (#1207).

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