The GaN power industry is consolidating in preparation for significant growth

The power supply/PFC segment will dominate the business from 2015-2018, ultimately representing 50 percent of device sales, according to a new Power GaN Market report from Yole Developpement. At that point, automotive will then catch-up.

“In UPS applications, the medium-power segment is likely to be very much in line with the GaN value proposition, and savings at system level will be demonstrated. We think GaN technology could grab up to 15 percent of market share in this field by 2020,” details Dr Philippe Roussel, Business Unit Manager, Compound Semi., LED, Power Electronics and Photovoltaics.

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Room for extra cost in motor drive applications is unlikely. Therefore, the incentives to implement new technologies such as GaN have to be serious and strong. Considering the possible improvement of conversion efficiency, and augmented by a predictable price parity with Si solutions by 2018, Yole Développement expects GaN to start being implemented at a slow rate in motor control by 2015-2016, and reach around $45M in revenue by 2020.

The PV inverters segment has already adopted SiC technology, and products are now commercially available. It’s possible that GaN could partially displace SiC thanks to better price positioning. However, now that SiC is in place, qualifying GaN may be more challenging.

Recent announcements show that the GaN industry is taking shape as mergers, acquisitions and license agreements are settled. ”The latest Transphorm-Fujitsu agreement, in addition to Furukawa’s IP portfolio’s exclusive licensing, are positive signs that GaN technology is spreading across the value chain, reinforcing the leaders’ market position but likely leaving the weakest players by the wayside,” comments Philippe.

Reasonably speaking, Yole Développement forecasts that 2014 will only generate $10M – $12M in device sales (in addition to R&D contracts and so forth). Such a moderate business means only the strongest will survive, and that several early-birds will see their cash-flow swiftly dissipate.

According to Yole Développement, the GaN business will really ramp up in 2016, exceeding the “psychological threshold” of $50M in revenue. How can GaN survive the next one to two years?

“At the risk of being overly-pessimistic, some companies will not survive, and will either be acquired or go bankrupt”, says Yole Développement.

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