Energy efficiency

Strong global demand for power semiconductors

27. September 2018, 10:06 Uhr | Engelbert Hopf

Fortsetzung des Artikels von Teil 1

Reaction speed to market developments...

Christian André, President von Rohm Europe: »Mit dem Power Lab  wollen wir die Anwender von der IC- bis zur Systemebne mit Tests und Simulationen unterstützen und ihnen bei der Entwicklung ihrer Systeme helfen, ihnen die Möglichkeit geben, mit den Pr
Christian André, Rohm Semiconductor: »Through the partnership with GaN Systems, we now cover the 650 V range with GaN switches and thus expand our product portfolio. At the same time, we are working in-house on the development of GaN switches for voltages below 150 V.«
© Rohm

For power semiconductors, too, it seems to be a question of the respective reaction speed to market developments, which has a decisive effect on manufacturers’ ability to deliver. “Our growth is not capped by production capacities,” said Balu Balakrishnan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Power Integrations at the PCIM in Nuremberg, Germany at the beginning of June this year. He points out that “we took note of the increase in delivery times early on and, therefore, also invested USD 35 million early on in expanding production capacities at our foundry partners. This resulted in additional 8-inch capacities being created, which will allow us to continue to supply our customers worldwide fast and on time.”

With this security in mind, the company will be presenting a new product family of power ICs for brushless DC motors at electronica, thus entering this product segment for the first time. The proprietary fast recovery epitaxial diode field effect transistor (FREDFET) technology of these products and a high degree of integration make heat sinks unnecessary and thus enable very compact driver boards. The new product family is compatible with all types of microcontrollers and driver algorithms, including 6-step and sensorless field-oriented control (FOC) techniques.

In the competition between traditional silicon solutions and wide bandgap materials, such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN), interesting alliances have recently formed. Rohm Semiconductor and GaN Systems entered into a strategic partnership in the early summer of this year. “Through this partnership, Rohm has secured immediate access to the robust 650 V GaN product group of GaN Systems,” explains Christian André, President of Rohm Semiconductor Europe, with regard to the background of this strategic partnership. GaN Systems’ GaN switches are already used today in chargers, uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) and solar inverters. In parallel to the partnership with GaN Systems, Rohm has announced that it will be driving forward its own GaN activities in the voltage range below 150 V.

Rohm has been successfully active in the SiC sector for years now. The company currently sees its present share of the world market at 20 percent. Rohm wants to increase its share to 30 percent by 2021. By then, according to industry experts, the global SiC market will have exceeded the sales threshold of USD 1 billion. To achieve its goal, Rohm is expanding production capacities at the Apollo factory in Fukuoka, Japan for USD 400 million. Production is scheduled to start in 2021. By 2025, another USD 600 million will then flow into the expansion of SiC production capacities. In this way, by 2025, Rohm Semiconductor will increase its current production capacity for SiC power semiconductors by a factor of 16.

While production capacities for SiC are being ramped up worldwide, Dr. Alex Lidow, the inventor of the trench MOSFET and GaN pioneer, is planning a direct attack on his original invention. With the fifth-generation GaN power semiconductor from Efficient Power Conversion (EPC), he has now reached price parity with conventional MOSFETs. “I wanted to beat myself by developing and launching an even more efficient switch than the trench MOSFET.” And that’s not all. For 2020, he has announced the sixth-generation, which will offer not only an on-resistance of only 11 mΩ but also various integrated functions such as driver, current sensing and PWM.

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Balu Balakrishnan, Power Integrations Inc.
Balu Balakrishnan, Power Integrations: »Our growth is not capped by production capacities. We invested USD 35 million early on in expanding production capacities at our foundry partners.«
© Power Integrations Inc.
EPC Lidow.jpg
Dr. Alex Lidow, EPC: »I wanted to beat myself by developing and launching an even more efficient switch than the trench MOSFET. With the fifth generation of our GaN switches, we have achieved this; we have reached price parity with conventional MOSFETs.«
© EPC

  1. Strong global demand for power semiconductors
  2. Reaction speed to market developments...

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