MediaTek Invested in GaN Manufacturer VisIC

VisIC Technologies from Nes Ziona, Israel, has completed an undisclosed amount of capital raising with the participation of MediaTek, the world’s 4th largest global fabless semiconductor company. VisIC was established in 2010 by experts in Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology to develop advanced GaN-based power conversion products. VisIC said that this round of financing will help the company to enlarge its portfolio for Electrical Vehicles high power systems.

It claims that it has produced the first GaN-based transistors used in automotive inverters and is now in the development and evaluation phase with several OEMs and Tier 1s for mass production. In May 2020 it announced a partnership with the German-based automotive supplier F Friedrichshafen AG, in the creation of high-performance electric drivelines for vehicles. Based on VisIC D3GaN semiconductors technology, the two companies will developp 400-Volt driveline applications, covering the largest segment of the electric vehicle market.

VisIC’s High-voltage D3GaN technology offers reduced gate charge and capacitances with low RDS(on), so the switching energy for the GaN device is as low as 140 µJ. Consequently, the switching losses are three to five times lower as compared to comparable silicon carbide MOSFETs. “GaN has better fundamental physical properties, such as maximal breakdown field and current density, than those of silicon or SiC,” said VisIC CTO Gregory Bunin.

VisIC’s reference design of 100kW inverter based on D3GaN transistors for 800V and 900V power-bus
VisIC’s reference design of 100kW inverter based on D3GaN transistors for 800V and 900V power-bus

The growing need for GaN Technologies

According to Allied Market Research, the GaN power device market size is worth $110.3 million in 2019, and is projected to reach $1,244.9 million by 2027, to register a CAGR of 35.4%. There is an increase in adoption of GaN devices in the EV industry. The sales of electrical vehicle have increased significantly, and is expected to reach 41 million by 2040. This is anticipated to provide lucrative growth opportunity for the market growth.”

Dr. Tamara Baksht, VisIC CEO, said that MediaTek is a constant source of inspiration. “We have a lot to learn from MediaTek how to grow innovation and make a difference in the mutual Automotive market.” It appears to be a strategic investment for Mediatek: “VisIC has impressive innovation and development around GaN for high power electric vehicles that improves the efficiency and performance. We believe this technology is key to improve electric vehicle performance and affordability,” said Dr. Lawrence Loh, Senior Vice President of MediaTek.

Clean Energy Drives GaN/SiC Semiconductors

Worldwide revenue from sales of silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) power semiconductors is projected to rise to $854 million by the end of 2020, up from just $571 million in 2018, according to Omdia’s Power Semiconductors Report. Market revenue is expected to increase at a double-digit annual rate, passing $5 billion by 2029.

These long-term market projection totals are about $1 billion lower than those in last year’s edition of this report. This is because demand for almost all applications has slowed since 2018. Moreover, device average prices fell in 2019. The forecast is based on data from from 2019, and do not take account of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SiC MOSFETs are proving very popular among manufacturers, with several companies already offering them. Several factors caused average pricing to fall in 2019, including the introduction of 650, 700 and 900 volt (V) SiC MOSFETs priced to compete with silicon superjunction MOSFETs, as well as increasing competition among suppliers.

“Declining prices will eventually spur faster adoption of SiC MOSFET technology,” said Richard Eden, senior principal analyst for power semiconductors at Omdia. “In contrast, GaN power transistors and GaN system ICs have only appeared on the market quite recently. GaN is a wide-bandgap material offering similar performance benefits as SiC, but with a higher cost-reduction potential.

“These price and performance advantages are possible because GaN power devices can be grown on either silicon or sapphire substrates, which are less expensive than SiC. Although GaN transistors are now available, sales of GaN system integrated circuits (ICs), from companies such as Power Integrations, Texas Instruments and Navitas Semiconductor are forecast to rise at a faster rate.”