Semiconductor Value Chain

IDT, EPC Agree to Take GaN Power to Market

01 June 2015

Integrated Device Technology (IDT) Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) and Efficient Power Conversion (EDC) Corp. (El Segundo, Calif.) have agreed to collaborate on the combination of gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor technology with silicon-based circuits from IDT.

The collaboration between IDT and EPC will focus across the breadth of IDT's main areas of business: digital and mixed-signal ICs for communications and computing infrastructure, wireless power and radio frequency (RF) communications.

Sailesh Chittipeddi. Source: IDTSailesh Chittipeddi. Source: IDTSailesh Chittipeddi, chief technology officer at IDT, says via email to Electronics360 that collaboration is expected to produce results within 18 to 24 months. When asked if the collaboration would be in the form of monolithic integration, Chittipeddi says, "Initially, separate die. We would do the controller and they would do the FET."

EPC, founded in 2007, is known as a fabless pioneer of enhancement-mode GaN power semiconductors. The company has used Episil Inc. (Hsinchu, Taiwan) as a foundry supplier to work on 150mm-diameter wafers.

GaN is grown on silicon wafers and processed using standard CMOS manufacturing equipment (see EPC Claims GaN Power Win Over Silicon). EPC sells discrete power devices for such applications as high-speed dc-dc voltage conversion, wireless power transfer, Class-D audio and LiDAR and other pulsed power applications.

The wireless power transfer standard of the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) consortium protocol operates at 6.78MHz, where the high-speed switching of GaN FETs can improve efficiency over silicon MOSFET-based switching. The two companies will also create a portfolio of RF products for the communications infrastructure market.

Recently, Freescale Semiconductor introduced its first GaN RF power transistor for base stations (see Freescale Rolls Out GaN Power Chip for Base Stations).

"GaN offers exciting opportunities to develop higher-performance, differentiated products for our customers," Chittipeddi says, in a statement. "EPC’s leadership in GaN-based power management technology made them the obvious choice to team with, and I look forward to exploring how GaN-based products, with all their inherent benefits, may be brought to market in the not-so-distant future."

"A growing number of innovative companies, such as IDT, are integrating proven GaN technology into their solutions as a way to move beyond the limitations of silicon," says Alex Lidow, CEO and co-founder of EPC, in the same statement.

The likeliest business model is that IDT will buy known good die from EPC and package them with its own controllers and market and sell the resulting components or modules, Chittipeddi says.

When asked if EPC would be able to sell such components or modules, Chittipedi says, "They could, but we would pick our target customers for certain segments where we have the sales channel."

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