The past year has been an exciting one for the gallium nitride (GaN) power business, with the 600V GaN now commercially available and GaN power IC has finally debuted, opening new market perspectives for GaN companies.

No longer a hazy picture, market research firm Yole Developpement is expecting the GaN power business to reach $280 million in 2021, with an 86% CAGR between 2015 and 2021. The market is driven by emerging applications such as power supply for data centre and telecom, as well as AC fast charger, lidar, ET and wireless power.

Yole GaN market 01 Figure 1: GaN-on SiC and Gan-on-Silicon market strategies (Source: Yole Developpement)

Up until late 2014, 600V/650V GaN HEMTs’ commercial availability was still questionable, despite some announcements from different players. Fast-forward to 2016: end users can now buy not only low-voltage GaN (<200V) devices from EPC Power, but also high-voltage (600V/650V) components from several players, including Transphorm, GaN Systems and Panasonic, according to the market research firm.

In parallel, start-up Navitas Semiconductor announced their GaN power IC in March 2016, followed by Dialog Semiconductors revealing their GaN power IC in August 2016.

The idea of bringing GaN from the power semiconductor market to the much bigger analog IC market is of interest to several other players too. For example, EPC Power and GaN Systems are both working on a more integrated solution, and Texas Instruments, a well-established analog IC player, has also been engaged in GaN activities, releasing an 80V power stage and 600V power stage in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Yole GaN market 02 Figure 2: GaN RF devices market (Source: Yole Developpement)

Still, the GaN power market remains small compared to the gigantic $335 billion silicon semiconductor market. In fact, according to Yole’s investigation, the GaN power business was less than $10 million in 2015.

“But before you think twice about GaN, remember that a small market size is not unusual for products just appearing on the market," said Dr. Hong Lin, technology and market analyst from Yole, pointing out that the first GaN devices were not commercially available until 2010.

According to Yole’s analysts, the most important point to be noticed is the potential of GaN power. They expect the GaN power business to grow, reaching a market size of around $300 million in 2021 at a 2016-2021 CAGR of 86%.

“The current GaN power market is mainly dominated by low voltage (<200V) devices in the forecasted period but the 600V devices should take off," said Zhen Zong, technology and market analyst at Yole.