Infineon to Acquire GaN Systems to Accelerate High Power, GaN Roadmap
With the acquisition of GaN Systems, Infineon will broaden its existing power portfolio and pick up the pace of development of its internal gallium nitride offerings.
Infineon Technologies and GaN Systems have announced entering into a definitive agreement for Infineon to acquire GaN Systems for $830 million in cash.
Based in Ottawa, Canada, and employing over 200 people, GaN Systems is a leader in developing Gallium Nitride (GaN) solutions for high-density and high-reliability power conversion applications.
According to Infineon, the acquisition will rapidly accelerate the company’s existing GaN roadmap for power applications, including mobile charging, data center power supplies, residential solar inverters, and onboard chargers (OBC) for electric vehicles.
When paired with Infineon’s silicon and silicon carbide solutions, the new, expanded GaN portfolio will allow the company to offer an even more comprehensive portfolio of power solutions to system designers.
Infineon to acquire GaN Systems. Image used courtesy of GaN Systems
GaN Performance at High Voltage
As a wide bandgap semiconductor compound, GaN offers higher power density and improved efficiency in high voltage power conversion applications when compared with traditional silicon. Higher device operating frequencies also allow for smaller board-level circuits, and the material properties of the semiconductor compound have demonstrated superior reliability across a wider temperature range.
One reason for GaN’s better performance at high voltage is that it has a better theoretical trade-off between on-resistance and withstand voltage, meaning GaN devices can support higher voltages with fewer conduction losses than traditional silicon. This is due to the high electron mobility of the GaN conduction channel that accommodates the larger distances between the drain and gate needed for higher operating voltages without sacrificing performance.
GaN offers better voltage and resistance trade-offs. Image used courtesy of EPC
Expanding Infineon’s Portfolio and GaN Systems’ Technology
Before the acquisition, Infineon was a significant player in wideband gap technologies, including GaN and silicon carbide (SiC) products.
Infineon’s current GaN portfolio includes the CoolGaN e-mode HEMT (High Electro Mobility Transistors) series targeted for consumer and industrial applications like servers, datacom, telecom, adapter/charger, wireless charging, and audio.
Infineon’s GaN FETs are typically rated to either 400 V or 600 V, with varying specified on-resistances across models. In addition to discrete FETs, the portfolio includes module solutions, referred to as Integrated Power Stages (IPS), that integrate multiple GaN FET devices into a single package, typically in a half-bridge configuration.
Infineon CoolGaN used in a hybrid flyback converter. Image used courtesy of Infineon
With the acquisition, Infineon will be incorporating a GaN Systems portfolio consisting of 100V and 600 V discrete GaN FET products with on-resistances ranging from 7 mΩ to 450 mΩ and supporting continuous currents as high as 150 A. GaN Systems’ products are available in a range of package configurations with both bottom and top-side cooling options.
GaN Systems’ FETs employ proprietary technologies that include Island Technology and GaNpx packaging. Island Technology uses internal pillars, or “islands,” to vertically distribute current off-chip, allowing for higher operating currents and reducing the size and cost of the device.
GaNpx packaging allows for solutions with a high current density and low package profile. The packaging technology also contributes to improved thermal performance, reduced inductances, and eliminates the need for wire bonds.
GaNpx packaging with Island Technology. Image used courtesy of GaN Systems
Manufacturing Wide Bandgap Devices
The combined GaN portfolio will integrate multiple manufacturing approaches and resources.
In early 2022, Infineon invested $2 billion in a new Kulim, Malaysia-based fab to expand its wide bandgap manufacturing capabilities. The new fab complements the existing wide bandgap manufacturing facility based out of Villach, Austria, and is expected to ship its first wafers by the second half of 2024.
Paired with Infineon’s in-house manufacturing capabilities, GaN systems’ network of gallium nitride “foundry corridors” will expand the range of manufacturing options across the combined portfolios.
Infineon manufacturing facility in Villach, Austria. Image used courtesy of Infineon
Growing GaN Market Opportunity
The commercial opportunity for GaN is significant. According to the announcement, GaN revenues are forecast to reach $2 billion by 2027, representing an annual growth rate of 56%. Along with silicon and silicon carbide, GaN is emerging as an important technology for power management applications increasingly demanding higher power densities, voltages, and reliability across temperatures.