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EPC and Renesas Introduce a Demo Board Showcasing GaN Technology

February 21, 2021 by Gary Elinoff

The new device is meant to strengthen EPC’s ongoing argument that GaN is as easy to use as silicon

The EPC9157 is a 300 watt 48 volt to 12 volt demo board that combines a Renesas buck controller with EPC’s eGaN FETs

The EPC9157. Image source EPC
The EPC9157. Image source EPC


The core of the EPC9157 demo board consists of Renesas’ ISL81806 80 V dual synchronous buck controller and EPC’s EPC2218 eGaN FETs. The tiny demo board itself is 1.3 x 0.9 x 0.35 in, which corresponds to 1/16th brick size. It is offered by Rensas mounted on an EPC9534 test fixture board.

It is noted that the development board features and industry standard pinout and footprint, and that the device switches at a constant 500 kHz.

The demo board serves to highlight EPC’s latest generation EPC2218 eGaN FETs, achieving better than 95% efficiency while achieving a regulated output conversion of a 48 volt input to an output of 12 volts at 25 amps.  


EPC has an Important Point to Prove 

EPC exhibits an almost evangelical zeal when pointing out that GaN semiconductors in general, and eGaN devices in particular, have dethroned silicon and that they are the heirs apparent in the power electronic world. We covered EPC’s EPC2218 and EPC2204 in a previous article, highlighting the rather convincing arguments that the company presents to back up its points. The EPC2218 itself is discussed in detail,


Demo Boards to the Forefront

EPC isn’t the only GaN producer to highlight demo boards as separate offerings, rather than addendums added to the last page of a product announcement. Recently, GaN systems debuted a series of evaluation kits introduced separately from the starring semiconductors to give designers a guided entree to their own eGaN transistors.


The EPC9157 demo board mounted on the EPC9534 test fixture board. Image courtesy of EPC.
The EPC9157 demo board mounted on the EPC9534 test fixture board. Image courtesy of EPC.


Renesas’ ISL81806

This 80 volt synchronous buck controller incorporates its own GaN drivers and supports switching frequencies of up to 2 MHz. It generates two independent outputs or one output with two interleaved phases. 

Each output includes a voltage regulator, current monitor, and an average current regulator to provide independent average voltage and current control. 

It sports four FET drivers, and accepts an input voltage range of 4.5 to 80 volts, and provides output voltage over a range of 0.8 to 76 volts. Protections include overcurrent, overvoltage, overtemperature and undervoltage protections (OCP, OVP, OTP, and UVP) respectively. 


A Powerful Partnership

Alex Lidow, CEO of EPC commented, “Renesas’ synchronous buck controller IC makes using GaN even easier. We are delighted to work with Renesas to combine the benefits of its advanced controllers with the performance of GaN to provide customers with a low component-count solution that increases efficiency and power density and reduces system cost for 48 V power conversion.” 

Additionally, Philip Chesley, Vice President, Industrial and Communications Business Division at Renesas, notes that “The ISL81806 takes full advantage of the high performance of GaN FETs for high-power-density solutions while reducing BOM costs. It makes designing with GaN FETs as simple as using silicon-based FETs,” He goes on to state that “We are excited to work alongside EPC to provide our customers with the latest in power conversion technology.” 



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