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RF GaN-on-Si Prototypes Hit Performance Milestones

May 19, 2022
GaN-on-Si devices from STMicro and MACOM meet cost and performance targets and will now move to the qualification stage.

STMicroelectronics and MACOM have teamed to produce RF GaN-on-Si device prototypes demonstrating performance that puts them on par with today's LDMOS and GaN-on-SiC technologies. The two organizations will continue their work to bring these devices to market.

RF GaN-on-Si technology offers high potential for 5G and 6G infrastructure. The long-term incumbent RF power technology, laterally diffused metal-oxide semiconductor (LDMOS), dominated early-generation RF power amplifiers (PAs). GaN can offer superior RF characteristics and significantly higher output power than LDMOS for these RF PAs, according to the companies Further, it can be manufactured on either silicon or silicon-carbide (SiC) wafers.

RF GaN-on-SiC often is more expensive because of the competition for SiC wafers from high-power applications and due to its non-mainstream semiconductor processing. On the other hand, the GaN-on-Si technology under development by ST and MACOM is expected to offer competitive performance paired with large economies of scale, enabled by its integration into standard semiconductor process flows.

It's claimed that prototype wafers and devices manufactured by ST have achieved cost and performance targets that would allow them to effectively compete with the incumbent LDMOS and GaN-on-SiC technologies on the market. These prototypes are now moving to the next big milestones—qualification and industrialization, targets that ST expects to hit in 2022.

With this progress, ST and MACOM have begun discussions to further expand their efforts to accelerate delivery of advanced RF GaN-on-Si products to the market. It's hoped that these developments can offer supply-chain relief to high-volume applications for RF power semiconductors in the wireless-infrastructure market.