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ST and Macom make RF GaN-on-Si prototypes

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Devices meet cost and performance targets and move effort to qualification stage


STMicroelectronics and Macom Technology Solutions have announced the successful production of RF GaN-on-Si prototypes.

The companies say 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 industrialisation. ST is on target to hit these milestones 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.

“We believe that the technology has now reached performance levels and process maturity where it can effectively challenge the established LDMOS and GaN-on-SiC and we can offer attractive cost and supply-chain advantages for high-volume applications, including Wireless Infrastructure,” said Edoardo Merli, Power Transistor Sub-Group general manager and executive VP of STMicroelectronics. “Commercialising RF GaN-on-Silicon products are the next big milestone in our collaboration with Macom and with continued progress, we look forward to fully realising the potential of this exciting technology.”

“Together, we continue to make good progress in moving the GaN-on-Si technology towards commercialisation and high-volume production,” said Stephen G. Daly, Macom president and CEO. “Our collaboration with ST is an important part of our RF Power strategy and I am confident that we can win market share in targeted applications where the GaN-on-Silicon technology meets the technical requirements.”

RF GaN-on-Silicon offers high potential for 5G and 6G infrastructure. The long-term incumbent RF power technology, 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. Further, it can be manufactured on either silicon or SiC wafers.

RF GaN-on-SiC can be more expensive because of the competition for SiC wafers from high-power applications and because of 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.
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