Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD
I know I’ve talked quite a lot recently about the explosive growth of SiC and GaN devices, but they really are causing a step change in the industry that’s impossible to ignore. It’s also difficult to get an accurate feel for exactly how big the scale of change actually is, along with the projected growth of the industry in the future. Luckily there are analysts that look at the markets and collate the data for us. In my opinion Omdia are one of the most reliable analysts out there, being formed from several mergers, including Ovum and IHS Markit’s technology division - two of the more respected research analysts in the industry. Omdia has recently published the “SiC & GaN Power Semiconductors Report – 2020” that shows the current and estimated future extent of the market penetration.
The report is a bit of a mixed bag, mainly due to the slowing of the industry last year. Omdia say that the combined market for SiC and GaN products will pass $1 billion in 2021. However, that is a $1 billion lower than the company predicted in the same report last year. By the end of this year, it is predicted that the market will rise to $854 million from $571 million in 2018, but that doesn’t take the full COVID-19 situation into account. Revenue is expected to stay at double-digit annual rate over the next decade, passing $5 billion by 2029. The main drivers of the market are from hybrid & electric vehicles, power supplies, and photovoltaic (PV) inverters. Device average prices also fell in 2019, but lower prices are expected to drive quicker market adoption.
“Declining prices will eventually spur faster adoption of SiC MOSFET technology,” said Richard Eden, senior principal analyst for power semiconductors at Omdia. “In contrast, GaN power transistors and GaN system ICs have only appeared on the market quite recently. GaN is a wide-bandgap material offering similar performance benefits as SiC, but with a higher cost-reduction potential. These price and performance advantages are possible because GaN power devices can be grown on either silicon or sapphire substrates, which are less expensive than SiC. Although GaN transistors are now available, sales of GaN system ICs, from companies such as Power Integrations, Texas Instruments and Navitas Semiconductor are forecast to rise at a faster rate.”
The report also notes the changes in the industry since last year’s version. The number of hours that wide bandgap devices have spent in the field now means we have a much better understanding of their operation. This, in turn, has led to suppliers being able to obtain JEDEC and AEC-Q101 approvals. Reliability in the field shows wide bandgap materials are usually better than silicon.