The RF and microwave industry is on the cusp of a major technology transition. This tectonic shift will be felt far and wide, impacting our industry and others in profound ways for decades to come.
Distinguished Professor, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
MACOM has assumed a leadership role in driving the commercialization of GaN into mainstream applications. Offering the RF and microwave industry’s only portfolio of both GaN on Si and GaN on SiC products spanning a wide range of package options for pulsed and continuous wave applications, we have firmly established ourselves as leaders across all GaN variants and all end market applications.
Regarding the maturation of GaN technology, we know today that GaN on Si delivers minimally 8X the raw power density of incumbent GaAs technology, while boosting efficiency from the mid 40% to up to 70%. We believe it can do this at minimally 2 to 3X lower cost than GaAs at maturity in 6” handset fabs.
GaN technology is now making the transition from specialized, government funded technology to high volume commercial mainstay. By leveraging the scale volume of the silicon industry, which is two orders of magnitude greater than even the GaAs handset market, we’ll soon be able to leverage GaN for cost-sensitive applications. At maturity, we believe that GaN on Si will benefit from silicon cost structures that are 3X lower than today’s highest volume GaAs and 100X lower cost than today’s GaN on SiC technology.
MACOM expects a bifurcation in the GaN supply chain for low volume applications. Cost-sensitive applications will go the path of 8" GaN on Si. At the same time, capital-lite fabs will service diverse, low-volume applications with specialty GaN processes.
It’s fair to expect a plethora of technology variants for niche applications, including GaN on SiC.GaN on SiC will remain the purview of low-volume, niche applications due to the inherent cost structure of substrate material. Fundamentally, at a physics level, SiC boules grow 200X to 300X slower than silicon. The cost of producing substrates – notably capital depreciation and energy consumption during material growth – scales proportionally to production time. Thus, GaN on SiC will remain perpetually higher cost and thus prohibitive for mainstream commercial use. GaN on SiC production for the highest power density and defense applications will play to the strength of capital-lite fabs that aren't exposed to the technology transition in handsets. Such factories can support a high diversity of relatively low-volume programs, and their capital structure can ensure long-term supply without facing consolidation as handset production transitions to silicon.