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VisIC technologies, the GaN Israeli start-up, released two major announces at the same time: They are partnering with TSMC for mass production agreement, and they are starting to sample 1200V GaN transistors (and it’s a first).

VisIC 1200V GaN module:

The 1200V device released by VisIC for sampling is a half-bridge module with HEMTs, push-pull, over-current and over-temperature protection all included in the package. It logically use their in-house ALL-Switch technology: A lateral layer layout that improves switching capability and Rds(ON).

Bringing GaN transistors to the 1200V range allows new markets and applications for this wide band gap material. It could then target UPS and car chargers as well as PV inverters, EV traction inverter (see our Tesla’s IGBT based inverter article) and many more. 1.2kV is the limit where GaN is not only competing and enhancing Super Junction MOSFET applications but also IGBTs and SiC MOSFETs.

Partnership with TSMC:

TSMC’s partnership is not a first. The Taiwanese worldwide leader in chip manufacturing (TSMC is Apple Iphone processor manufacturer) has massively invested in GaN. It’s an opportunity for them to enter the power electronics market, opened by a new technology coming.

They also signed partnerships with other GaN device designers (GaNsystems and Dialog Semiconductor). It’s another main news and shows how TSMC quickly positioned themselves as a key player in a new born market.

Source

Corsair, a leader in parts and components for PCs and laptops, announced the release of their last PSU (Power Supply Unit), the AX1600i. This 1600W power supply is mainly targeting gamers PCs. The 1.6kW power is large enough to supply a Desktop PC with a large microprocessor and several energy consuming graphic cards.

The real innovation in this specific PSU is that it’s using GaN based semiconductor:

The AX1600i uses Transphorm’s TPH3205WS 650V FETs in a bridgeless totem-pole power factor correction (PFC) topology. The boost PFC stage is then very efficient and taking the most of GaN technology. They replace Silicon SuperJunction MOSFETs that were used in previous Corsair power supplies topologies in a 2-phased interleaved PFC topology, less efficient. The power supply is now placed at a more than 80 PLUS Titanium rating.

Corsair Power supply unit for desktop gamer PC GaN gallium nitride devices

Courtesy of http://www.tomshardware.com/

Corsair choose Transphorm as it seems to be the best options for volume production and matching the characteristics and topology they were aiming at. They come in TO247 package, similarly to most SuperJunction MOSFETs. The semiconductor start-up has been fully involved in the design and test process to reach the results presented now.

Courtesy of http://www.tomshardware.com/

The AX1600i is already available and priced at USD499.

Here are some of the main improvements advertised by Corsair:

  • Power output: 1600W, 6.5% increase
  • Size reduction: 20 mm shorter, 11% smaller
  • Thermal impact: equivalent 50°C continuous output
  • Audible noise impact: slower fan speed, less noise at full load

GaN was expected to be used in consumer power supplies:

This news is totally in line with PntPower market and technology analysis and publications: The best fitting market segment for GaN today is within power supplies. We expected to see more laptop power supplies and desktop power supplies, but only the power range changes.

Source

Delta, the world leader in SMPS Power Supplies, has realized an investment in GaNSystem. The Taiwanese manufacturer joins BMW iVentures together with several investment companies: BDC Capital, Chrysalix Venture Capital, Cycle Capital Management, RockPort Capital and Tsing Capital.

This new investment is announced only a few days after Transphorm, GaNSystem’s direct competitor, has announced a new investment from Yaskawa. The later released a GaN based servo-motor a few weeks before that.

One may see here, a pattern between system makers from Japan (Yaskawa) and Taiwan (Delta) investing in next generation semiconductors in order to get hands on prototypes or secure a strategic position.

Today’s GaN market is ready to boost. It has been so for a 2 to 3 years now. TSMC has invested in a huge manufacturing platform to propose volume production services.

Transphorm has received a 15$ million investment from its long time partner Yaskawa Electric. The GaN for Power Electronics start-up was already linked to Transphorm. Yaskawa announced a few weeks ago a new series of Servo-motors using GaN devices from Transphorm.

Yaskawa’s investment gives again a little bit more room for Transphorm to develop its GaN devices business.

 

 

Some GaN power devices leaders and their finance ‘sources’ – (c) PntPower – Applications & Markets for GaN in Power Electronics 2016

 

(Edit-10/10/17: Infineon GaN technology is not cascode based, as stated first.)

FlatPack is the name of Eltek’s power solution for Data Centers. It’s a line of flexible rackable power supplies with a 220VDC to 400VDC input. It converts it to 48VDC for servers. They released yesterday the Flatpack 2 SHE (for Super High Efficiency).

It reaches an efficiency of up to 98.2%, with a claimed power density of 33W/in³. Eltek used CoolGaN technology to reach these performances. These are the GaN Enhancement mode devices from Infineon, ranging from 100 to 600V. This is the first example of a commercial Data Center and Telecom power supply using GaN devices.

No information is given on the price range nor the number of devices and the topology. But Infineon and Eltek propose their cost of energy annual savings estimation (compared with FaltPack 2):

  • For a Base station in Italy (6kW) – Savings are estimated at 576€
  • For an office in UK (250kW) – Savings are estimated at £18.350

Additional information about this power supply (especially the datasheet) is available from Eltek.

Yaskawa, the Japanese motor drive and PV inverter manufacturer has added a new servo motor to its catalog. This servo motor, called “Σ-7 F”, is based on Gallium Nitride devices produced by Transphorm. It’s not the first time that Yaskawa announce a power electronics converter using Transphorm GaN transistors. A PV inverter was released in 2015. It was already using Transphorm’s devices.

The Σ-7 F series servo motor are three-phase bridge topology based, using high-voltage Gallium Nitride devices in TO-220 packages. The 100W to 400W servo motor product line will progressively include a GaN option, allowing a reduction in size.

Navitas Semiconductor today announce what they claimed to be the world’s smallest 65 W USB-C charger reference design. The GaN start-up is not new in the charger field. They strongly believe in GaN for small size adapters. AllGaN PowerIC is there integrated GaN+Driver IC released last year. The device is now integrated in this 65 W and 45 cc adapter (51 x 43 x 20.5 mm which is 1.5 W/cc).

The reference design had to be USB-PD (Power Delivery) compliant using USB type C. The NVE028A (that’s the name of the reference design…) is based on an active clamp flyback topology running 3x to 4x faster than typical adapters. This is what helped reduce the size of passive components and filters while keeping efficiency of conversion.

Source: Navitas Semiconductor

GaN Systems, a leading GaN for power electronics devices start-up has announced they closed an investment round. The round was led by BMW i Ventures, the investment branch of BMW group. BMW i Ventures is also a Chargepoint investor. It’s not the first investment in a Power Electronics company, but it seems to be the first investment in a semiconductor company for BMW.

BMW i Ventures joins a long list of investors already part of the GaN Systems adventure: BDC Capital, Chrysalix Venture Capital, Cycle Capital Management, RockPort Capital and Tsing Capital.

BMW i Ventures manager acknowledged the advantages of GaN technology for electric cars. Efficiency and size reduction seems to be the main drivers for using GaN power electronics in electric cars.

Source: GaN Systems press release

 

 

 

EPC announced the EPC2046. It’s a 200V device dedicated to wireless power, AC-DC power supplies, PV micro inverters or low inductance motor drives.

The 200V transistor is based on EPC’s latest GaN transistor design. It’s using their fifth-generation production process. It features 25mΩ Rds(ON) with a 55A max pulsed output current. It’s using the usual CSP package (Chip Scale Packaging) from EPC (which is basically a synonym of ‘no-package’…). The ‘package’ allows a very small size compared to similar Silicon MOSFETS. EPC’s 2046 is 0.95mm x 2.76mm.

EPC2046 eGaN FET is distributed at $3.51 for 1.000 units.

ExaGaN, the French GaN for power electronics start-up, had started a partnership with X-Fab in 2015 to develop a mass manufacturing process of GaN transistors on 200mm wafers. It’s now done. They announced today they have solved issues related to defectivity, material stress and process integration. They are able to manufacture their G-FET devices in X-Fab fab dedicated to GaN process.

Being able to apply a process to 8 inches wafers is a good sign to the GaN industry for cost optimization. ExaGaN is still the wafer maker: Substrates are made in Grenoble (France), hometown of the French start-up, and using the proprietary process. Substrate making is key in GaN devices manufacturing, as it is highly challenging to growth GaN on top of another material (Silicon in this case). Still, it is necessary to stay in a reasonable cost ranges.

ExaGaN says it confirms the strength of their fablite business model, keeping control of manufacturing from material to device.

Source: ExaGaN Press release.

GoZolt.com is down, and Avogy’s website redirects to a company named Nexgen Power Systems

NexGen

NexGen Power Systems logo (probably the new name of Avogy Inc. No press release confirmed the information).

At PntPower we love to try, test, sneak and search. We acquired Avogy’s laptop charger, named Zolt just to try and test. We also published about what we might find in there, and then re-published about what kind of power devices were really in there.

Recently, we went back to the website gozolt.com. It was down. It seems, according to social media, that the website has been down for a while. For all those (like us) who expected an update (like an EU plug version) or an additional plug to match latest laptops… I think you can try FinSix or Innergie’s latest chargers, or even expect Cambridge Electronics or Appulse Power to release a product soon.

This down website led us to search more about Avogy Inc. The company is now renamed to NexGen Power Systems. A new name, an old website shut down, and probably a product line let down… what is happening at ex-Avogy ?

Let’s refresh our memories about what Avogy was and was supposed to become :

Avogy Inc. was born ePowersoft Inc. in September 2010. It was backed in 2011 by Khosla Ventures, a fund that also invested in Scribd or Instacart. In the semiconductor field they backed Soraa, a GaN/GaN LED manufacturer founder by the inventor of LED, Shinji Nakamura. Khosla Ventures invested a total of 32M$ to date.

Intel Capital (the investment fund of Intel) also supported Avogy Inc.

Avogy developed a GaN/GaN power semiconductor device. They own several patents in the field. After different developments and proof of concepts, they released and started to produce the 1st GaN/GaN vertical transistor. They used Soraa’s production line and Kyma technologies’ substrates.

But according to all the people we discussed with, the distribution of these devices has never been large. As DoE and DoD also were investors in the company, they might have kept the first products, together with a very limited number of beta-test customers.

Avogy Inc. timeline important dates

Extract from Avogy Inc. presentation. All rights reserved Avogy Inc.

Avogy Inc. managed to advertise the company as the future GaN leader, by mastering GaN/GaN technology and outclassing any other GaN/Si or GaN/SiC based technology.

In 2015, Avogy Inc. through Zolt, a subsidiary created for the occasion, released a small laptop charger. They left doubt and confusion whether or not their device used GaN devices. Finally, a reverse engineering process revealed that Cree MOSFETs were used… Which is ironic for a GaN device maker.

By the end of 2016, Zolt’s website stopped working and there is no news or ways to contact the company. It seems that they produced a batch of chargers, and then closed the website.

Extract from Avogy Inc. Presentation. All rights reserved to Avogy Inc.

Avogy Inc. now leads you to the same website, with a logo and address changed to Nexgen Power Systems. No PR, no communication, no information released anywhere.

You can find traces of an auction from January 2017 where Avogy is selling a lot of equipment… Is Avogy preparing a rebirth from its own ashes ?

These signs are not very positive. But let’s wait for further information.

Maybe Nexgen (ex-Avogy) is preparing something big, with next investments ! We will investigate further during PCIM in Nuremberg.

 

Bilateral and higher voltage GaN… but not at the same time:

Transphorm is a California Wide Band Gap semiconductor start-up, part of the leading suppliers of power GaN devices today. They are part of the PowerAmerica consortium too. With the help of the latter, they developed and already ship limited samples of a bilateral GaN based device. They also developed a 900V version of their GaN devices.

Bilateral devices have been an interesting solution for innovative converter topologies for a long time. Fuji electric released a new type of IGBT power modules made for three-level conversion using a solution close to bilateral devices. The topology is called AT-NPC and uses RB-IGBT (Reverse Blocking IGBT). It’s also a very good solution for matrix converter (AC-AC converters mainly used for motor drives), which are double-side converters. Bilateral devices help reduce the device count by a factor of 2 to 4 for these innovative topologies.

Getting to higher voltage is also a key target for Gallium Nitride. The release of a 900V GaN device is good news for the market.

All these developments have been partially founded and had a technical help from PowerAmerica, which accelerated the development process – acknowledged Primit Parikh, COO of Transphorm.