Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD
The above title was ostensibly a throwaway remark by Peter Rogerson, the Senior Director of Marketing at Innoscience for North America and Europe on a call last week, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed appropriate. While not many start-ups have the backing of industry giants such as Arm and SK Hynix behind them, the company has remained under the radar outside of its native China until last month when it announced that it had launched its international operations in the USA and Europe with design and sales support facilities in Santa Clara, California, and Leuven, Belgium.
Innoscience was founded at the end of 2015, and since then has worked through three phases of development that have included R&D, the building and commissioning of two fabs and the development and commercialisation of products. The 4th phase is the beginning of mass production of those products and launching internationally. While the majority of new companies go through similar stages, not many emerge onto the international scene with more than 1,400 employees, over 300 staff dedicated to R&D, two fully operational fabs and 500 plus patents, all of which focus exclusively on GaN technology.
The company’s launch materials make the claim that Innoscience is already the largest IDM that is fully focused on GaN technology. The reason for that claim, according to Dr. Denis Marcon, General Manager, Innoscience Europe, is the company’s breadth of products and its new 8” GaN-on-Si fab in Suzhou, China, which will be capable of producing up to 70,000 wafers a month when it is fully operational in 2025. Currently the capacity of the Suzhou fab and the company’s initial Zhuhai fab are 10,000 wafers a month. As for breadth of products, Innoscience has introduced a wide portfolio of devices at the full range of GaN application voltages from 30V to 650V. It has shipped more than 35 million parts for use in applications including USB PD chargers/adapters, data centres, mobile phones and LED drivers. Those parts are based on Innoscience’s high-performance, normally-off e-mode GaN FETs. The company has developed a technique to introduce a stress enhancement layer which significantly reduces RDS(on). Since the layer is added after the device has been formed, the process does not affect other parameters, including threshold voltage and leakage. Dr Marcon says that much of that innovation originally came from his old employer IMEC, where Innoscience was a customer.
To sum up, Dr Marcon said, “Innoscience is an IDM - we do our own wafers, we do our own processing, we do our own testing, and then we sell the discrete device or qualified wafers. We are in control of the whole process from start to finish. We have worked on manufacturing over a number of years and our yields are good, our uniformity of resistance is consistent, both from wafer to wafer and across the individual wafers themselves. Our parts have passed quality and reliability tests in excess of JEDEC standards. The end result is products with an excellent performance to price ratio, as well as security of supply, which is hugely important at this time of shortages”.