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NEWS ANALYSIS


depositing the buffer and GaN layers onto the silicon substrate. “There is sapphire, SiC and even bulk GaN, but silicon is the cheapest carrier solution,” says Geneuss. “And that’s why we think this has been a very valuable effort, because when it comes to the long-term and mass production, you have to look for the most cost-effective way to implement this.”


Still Infineon isn’t expecting instant gratification from IR’s precious GaN- on-silicon technology. According to Geneuss, the market is in its infancy and GaN revenues have been very small for IR and other players such as Transphorm.


“We already are seeing first revenues but expect it will take five years or more before we see really significant revenues,” he says.


In the interim the company is firmly focusing on developing ‘the best


solution’ that will include IR’s GaN- on-silicon devices and Infineon’s SiC products. “Customers require solutions, not individual products, and these new materials will not survive as standalone products,” he says. “So we want to include the new technology with, say, our best IGBT, MOSFET or diode, in the best package to offer the best solution in terms of cost-performance-ratio and power density.”


So where does Infineon’s plans leave other GaN-on-silicon companies? Japan multinational, Panasonic, holds a hefty chunk of the market’s GaN-on-silicon IP and is sampling 600 V GaN-on-silicon transistors. But what about the key, but much smaller players, such as Canada- based GaN Systems, EpiGaN, Belgium, Japan-based Transphorm and US-based EPC?


Media reports are already hinting at more acquisitions to come. And as


senior analyst from Yole Développement, Philippe Roussel, told Compound Semiconductor: “We anticipate more consolidations in the GaN area over the next two years and have several indications to who might be the next ones, but cannot disclose.”


And if the GaN-on-silicon market develops slowly, the industry’s start- ups could falter. Just less than two years ago, US-based SiC device manufacturer, SemiSouth, closed down. Despite investment from Silicon Valley manufacturer of devices for high voltage power conversion systems, Power Integrations, the up and coming business clearly couldn’t generate cash flow in a rising market. Could the same happen to pure GaN players?


As Geneuss concludes: “Introducing components on these emerging wide band-gap materials is a marathon, not a sprint.”


Copyright Compound Semiconductor October 2014 www.compoundsemiconductor.net 23


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