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Cree Plastic Packaging Slashes Cost Of GaN Power RF Transistors

The series includes what Cree says is the industry’s first 300W, 2.7 GHz plastic packaged gallium nitride telecom transistor. The devices are designed to enable higher data rate telecom systems
Cree is introducing a new family of high power GaN RF transistors based on an innovative plastic package design.

This leverages the superior RF performance of GaN in a low-cost platform.

Initial products include what is claimed to be the industry’s first 300W plastic packaged transistor operating at 2.7 GHz,. Cree says it delivers unparalleled Psat efficiency of 65 percent and broadband capability at nearly half the price of the same GaN transistor housed in an industry-standard ceramic package.

Scalable to high power levels and capable of operating in all cellular telecom bands up to 3.8 GHz, the new GaN transistors are expected to enable the deployment of smaller, lower-cost macrocell radio units capable of supporting the growing data demands of today’s cellular LTE networks.

“The RF transistor market for wireless telecom infrastructure is approaching $1 billion annually," says Lance Wilson, research director, ABI Research. “Silicon LDMOS has been the dominant technology for the past twenty years but recently GaN RF power devices have captured meaningful market share based on performance; however, acceptance has been limited thus far due to its higher cost. Cree’s newest family of high power plastic products will drive down the cost of GaN transistors to a point that is nearing silicon LDMOS levels and will accelerate broader adoption in telecom applications. This will make GaN transistors a principal choice for next-generation wireless networks."

The new broadband GaN transistors from Cree have the flexibility to operate across multiple cellular bands, helping network operators deploy carrier aggregation solutions that join different bands of spectrum and create larger data pipes to support faster download speeds and enable additional network capacity. Cellular base station OEMs can also leverage this flexibility to speed their time to market by addressing market requirements with fewer band-specific amplifiers.

What's more, Cree’s GaN technology is claimed to provide unrivalled efficiency that improves a system’s thermal design and reduces cost. More efficient solutions allow for smaller and lighter radio units, which alleviates loading on already overcrowded cellular towers. Increased efficiency also creates significant savings on utility costs necessary to run the networks.

“Our new low-cost line of high performance plastic packaged transistors will transform the way telecom OEMs approach base station platform design, providing greater flexibility and networking options for cellular operators to serve their customer base," Jim Milligan, RF business director, Cree, Inc., notes.

“Our new packaging platform allows us to break a significant cost barrier that has prevented telecom infrastructure providers from fully exploiting the full performance capability of GaN technology. By delivering broadband and high efficiency performance in a cost-effective solution, we believe GaN is poised for rapid adoption by setting a new standard for performance and price."

Available at power levels of 60, 100, 150, 200 and 300 watts, the new plastic GaN HEMT RF transistors can operate at frequencies up to 3.8 GHz. In addition, the family offers transistors pre-matched to cellular bands at either 690 - 960 MHz, 1800 -2300 MHz or 2300 - 2700 MHz.

Cree GaN plastic packaged transistors used in Doherty amplifiers have demonstrated 80W average power at 2.6 GHz with 50 percent drain efficiency under 7.5dB PAR LTE signals at 50V, with 17dB of gain at rated output power. The entire family of 50V plastic GaN transistors is verified to meet moisture sensitivity level (MSL-3) and JEDEC environmental standards.

Cree will be at booth #433 at the International Microwave Symposium, taking place from June 1st to  6th in Tampa Bay, Florida.

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