Application of GaN in RFID radio frequency electronics
In recent years, due to the application of 5G, everyone’s attention to RF GaN has increased.
GaN is ideally suited to deliver the high frequencies and wide bandwidths required in the mmWave domain. It can meet the performance and small size requirements, as shown in the figure below. Applications using mmWave frequency bands require highly directional beamforming techniques (beamforming focuses radio signals into highly directional beams, increasing power and minimizing interference on user equipment). This means that the RF subsystem will require a large number of active components to drive the relatively compact aperture. GaN is well-suited for these applications, as one of its distinguishing characteristics is its robust performance in a small package size.
According to a report by Yole, an internationally renowned analyst firm, the GaN RF industry started with GaN-on-SiC technology. Yole further pointed out that GaN-on-SiC technology was introduced 20 years ago and is now a major competitor to LDMOS and GaAs in RF power applications.
According to Yole, in addition to its deep penetration in radar, GaN-on-SiC has also been the choice of telecom OEMs such as Huawei, Nokia and Samsung, all of which have chosen the technology in their 5G Massive MIMO infrastructure. The high bandwidth and high efficiency of GaN-on-SiC technology has enabled it to continue to grab LDMOS share in the 5G market, and the benefits of the 6-inch wafer platform transition are starting to emerge.
Against this backdrop, Yole predicts that the GaN-on-SiC device market will grow at a CAGR of 17% between 2020 and 2026, with the overall size expected to reach more than $2.2 billion in 2026.
In the RF GaN market, in addition to SiC-based GaN, Si-based GaN is also another option.
Although GaN-on-Si PAs are still small in the market, their large bandwidth and small size have attracted several smartphone OEMs. This technology may soon be adopted in some sub-6GHz 5G handsets with major technological advancements from innovative competitors. This will undoubtedly mark a milestone in the RF industry of GaN-on-Si.
Yole further noted that the value of the entire GAN RF market has reached $891 million in 2020. Between 2020 and 2026, the compound annual growth rate will be as high as 18%. From a market perspective, the GaN RF device market will be dominated by 5G telecom infrastructure and defense applications, which will account for 41% and 49% of the overall market, respectively, by 2026. They also emphasized that GaN-on-SiC technology is still favored in terms of high power density and thermal conductivity, driven by the 5G telecom and defense sectors.
Regarding these two different GaN products, Roger Hall, general manager of Qorvo’s Wireless Infrastructure and Defense Products High Performance Solutions Group, emphasized that Qorvo is not opposed to GaN-on-silicon, but the company prefers GaN-on-SiC Gallium is the way of the future. Because the company believes that if the output increases in the future, the cost can be reduced.
In addition, Roger Hall said that cost considerations should not only be about the cost of GaN itself, but the total cost of a module or subsystem that includes GaN, including die, packaging, test, supporting components, integration, and more. Because most products are integrated modules, not separate things.
“So we think the overall cost is the cost of multiple components. If we do this, we think the total cost of GaN-on-SiC will be lower, and it’s also very good in terms of efficiency and technical performance, compared to GaN-on-silicon has better heat dissipation performance and therefore higher efficiency. This is very valuable to users. In addition, the size of GaN-on-silicon carbide is smaller, saving system space. ‘ Roger Hall continued.
As a supplier of RF solutions, Qorvo also has a broad layout in GaN.