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The gallium nitride semiconductor device market is expected to reach USD 22.47 billion by 2023 from USD 16.50 billion in 2016, at a CAGR of 4.6% from 2017 to 2023.
How is the potential use of GaN in 5G infrastructure expected to act as an opportunity for the market?
With the commercial launch of 5G by 2021, several major countries such as the US, Japan, South Korea, the UK, Germany, and China are expected to deploy 5G technology, which is eco-friendly and enables efficient communication. The aggregate data rates supported by this technology are expected to be 1,000 times and 100 times faster than the existing data transfer rates of 3G and 4G technologies, respectively. The deployment of 5G technology is also expected to significantly increase the number of mobile subscribers, thereby creating a requirement for developing infrastructure that can handle these data requests effectively. Thus, the development and deployment of 5G infrastructure is expected to lead to increased demand for GaN devices. In February 2017, Verizon announced its plan to deploy a high-speed large fixed 5G pilot in the 28 GHz band as a pre-commercial service (Beta testing) to select customers in 11 markets. Mimosa Networks launched commercially available and viable 5G fixed wireless Internet architectures (urban MicroPoP and rural GigaPoP). It also offers its services in the spectrum below 6 GHz and works on the spectrum reuse synchronization (SRS) technology.
Currently, GaN is commonly used in small cells, distributed antenna systems (DAS), and remote radio head network densification. In future, it is expected to replace small cells in 5G network applications that require high frequencies and nominal implementation costs.
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How is the design complexity of GaN devices expected to act as a challenge for the market?
The design complexity of power and RF GaN devices acts as a challenge for their designers as they strive to improve the efficiency of these devices while keeping their costs low and structures less complex. Moreover, the varying requirements of different applications further increase the design complexities of power and RF GaN devices. The efficiency surge increases the operating time of battery-powered products, thereby reducing the electricity consumption of wireless base stations and other similar applications. In September 2015, Infineon Technologies AG launched a new series of GaN on SiC RF power transistors at the European Microwave Week. This series offers increased bandwidth, improved power density, and high efficiency to support the future cellular infrastructure, that is, 5G for the mobile base station transmitters.
Increasing adoption of GaN RF semiconductor devices in military, defense, and aerospace applications
Increased use of RF power in military, defense, and aerospace applications acts as a driver for the growth of the gallium nitride semiconductor device market. The use of RF power devices in avionics and radar systems is fueling the demand for GaN RF semiconductor devices in military, defense, and aerospace applications across the globe. In March 2015, M/A-COM Technology Solutions Inc. launched a 650 W GaN on silicon carbide high-electron-mobility-transistor (HEMT) for L-band pulsed avionics applications.
Growing competition from SiC in high-voltage semiconductor applications
Silicon carbide (Sic) power semiconductor devices, since their launch at the commercial level in 2001, have been trying to penetrate the power semiconductor device market globally by replacing pure silicon. These devices offer improved power efficiency and advanced power handling capacity in terms of power rectification, power factor correction, power amplification, and power transmission. In high-voltage range applications, SiC semiconductor devices are the best choice in terms of their power efficiency and performance than their GaN counterparts. For instance, at the border-line voltages between medium and high voltages, ranging from 700V to 1,200V, the efficiency of GaN devices reduced considerably. Thus, the preference of SiC power semiconductor devices over GaN power semiconductor devices in power applications acts as a restraint for the growth of the gallium nitride semiconductor device market.
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