Skyworks, Wolfspeed Team Up on Gate Driver Board Design
Skyworks recently released an isolated gate driver board reference design that works with Wolfspeed’s 1700-volt SiC FETs. Offering better power density than earlier generations, the product targets EV charging, drivetrains, and other applications.
Two leading semiconductor manufacturers, California-based Skyworks and North Carolina’s Wolfspeed, recently announced their next generation of isolated gate driver boards (GDBs) for automotive applications like electric vehicle charging and propulsion.
Skyworks’ Si828x gate driver board designed to work with Wolfspeed’s 1700 V XM3 SiC FET. Image used courtesy of Skyworks
Skyworks’ new Si828x-BAWB-KIT works with Wolfspeed’s 1700-volt XM3 half-bridge silicon carbide (SiC) field effect transistor (FET) power modules. According to Skyworks’ news release, the new product is designed for SiC FETs with an optimized GDB layout to replace complex competing power stage designs.
In late 2022, Skyworks released its Si828x GDB reference design that pairs with Wolfspeed’s XM3 1200 V SiC half-bridge FET power modules. The next-generation Si828x-BAWB-KIT builds on its predecessor with support for 1700 V 320-amp XM3 FETs—prioritizing high power density and improving power delivery.
Si828x-BAWB-KIT Features and Specs
The Si828x-BAWB-KIT is listed on Skyworks’ website with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $156. It's available through three distributors. As of April 4, 2023, Digi-Key and Mouser each have three units in stock, while Verical has 63. Digi-Key and Mouser estimate a factory lead time of eight weeks for more units.
Skyworks’ new Si828x-BAWB-KIT. Image used courtesy of Skyworks, via Mouser Electronics
The new GDB kit provides several features for power switching designs, including a low inductance layout, a proven bill of materials, and design documentation. Plus, it guarantees protection from fault-related damage. Engineers interested in purchasing the product can use the isolation bootstrap and power consumption calculators on Skyworks’ website to define their recharge current, isolation set-up, and other settings.
The Si828x-BAWB-KIT is part of Skyworks’ isolation evaluation kit portfolio, which includes digital isolators, isolated analog and analog-to-digital converters, industrial I/O products, and isolated FET and gate drivers. According to the company’s website, this segment has more than 300 million isolation channels in field service. It targets several applications, from industrial automation and transportation systems to home entertainment and medical devices.
Specs for the Si828x-AAWB (1200V) and Si828x-BAWB (1700V) kits. Image used courtesy of Skyworks
Upping the power from 1200 V to 1700 V, the latest iteration of Si828x is better equipped to manage industrial and automotive application demands than the previous generation Si828x-AAWB-KIT.
Wolfspeed’s XM3 Family
Now for Wolfspeed’s role: Wolfspeed’s third-generation 1700 V 320 A XM3 modules aim to provide high efficiency and density in industrial applications demanding higher bus voltages. XM3 half-bridge modules can operate in temperatures up to 175 degrees Celsius (347 degrees Fahrenheit) and have a low inductance design.
Wolfspeed’s CAB320M17XM3 1700V 320A half-bridge power module. Image used courtesy of Wolfspeed
Before offering the 1700 V power module platform, Wolfspeed introduced its first automotive-qualified 1200 V 450 A SiC half-bridge modules, targeting demanding applications such as traction drives, direct current fast chargers, industrial automation and testing equipment, universal power supplies, and smart energy grids. The company revealed last year that its 1200 V XM3 product was used in Lucid Motors’ Air EV, driving the power for the luxury car’s electric motor.
The left image shows Lucid Air’s traction drive, equipped with Wolfspeed’s 1200 V all-SiC half-bridge module. Wolfspeed’s 600-kilowatt dual inverter reference platform is shown on the right. Image used courtesy of Wolfspeed
Wolfspeed and Skyworks have worked together on several partner designs in the past. Skyworks’ CRD-06600FF065N reference design for high-density on-board EV chargers pairs its Si8234BB dual isolated gate driver with Wolfspeed’s 650 V C3M SiC MOSFETs. The company’s Si823Hx GDBs can also serve a range of Wolfspeed SiC devices.