Tipping Point Achieved as GaN Technology Moves from Early Adoption to Mainstream Acceptance

December 14 2020, 00:45
High quality audio is now a “must have” across all segments from professional to home and portable applications. Class-D audio systems with GaN (gallium nitride) are not only smaller and lighter but provide better sound quality and were one of the technology trends in 2020. And because it’s that time of year to make predictions for the coming year, GaN Systems, a leading company in this space, published a forecast of 2021, identifying key trends for the technology.

GaN Systems Predictions for 2021 naturally identified that by the end of 2021 a significant number of the world’s noteworthy brands in the audio market will be offering GaN-based Class-D audio solutions. With advancements in the semiconductor technology, including the use of GaN, Class-D amplifiers are now being used in more audio applications including home theaters, high power smart speakers, pro touring amplifiers, portable party speakers, automotive, marine and power sports.

2021 will be the year that GaN technology further demonstrates that it has successfully shifted from early adoption by claiming a substantial and publicly visible foothold in this industry. Amid the unprecedented socioeconomic upheaval brought about by COVID-19, organizations have had to pivot and strategize, adapt and change in new ways – in a far more agile manner than at any time in history.

"2021 will be the year when companies must double down on digitally-driven experiences, operational excellence, products, supply chains, and ecosystems – not just to rapidly advance, but even in some cases to survive. The measurement of their success will be dependent on how well they harness advanced technologies to jump to the next growth curve in their respective industries. In previous years, organizations chose to be comfortably silently as an early adopter, hesitant to be viewed in the public domain as forward-looking and innovative," states Jim Witham, CEO of GaN Systems.

"In 2020, companies who embraced GaN did so as early adopters. In 2021, the perceived risk factors will shift from not adopting GaN technology – to the risk of being left behind," Witham adds.

From Power Systems to Consumer Electronics
GaN Systems is more convinced than ever that silicon has reached its limitations in solving critical power systems challenges. GaN (gallium nitride) transistors are able to drive more robust growth and product innovation in the electronics industry. As major companies are designing and shipping products with GaN today, in 2021, the company expects to see significantly increased demand across multiple markets – especially in consumer products and industrial power supplies. The high reliability of GaN power transistors and their ability to bring economic advantage to many applications will be ever more common over the next twelve months – and beyond.

2020 was the year of the GaN charger. The aftermarket saw more than 100 new models of chargers and adapters in the market for phones, tablets and handheld gaming devices. Looking ahead to 2021, this will be the year of GaN chargers from OEM’s, along with the rise of multi-port adapters. GaN chargers are moving from a once niche position to the mainstream standard, while also being positioned to deliver on future evolving customer needs with advances in device design, performance, energy efficiency, and power requirements. In 2021, GaN chargers will move from an after-market offering to in-the-box, GaN Systems predicts.

In industrial markets, devices such as portable test equipment, handheld scanners, mobile displays, robots, and medical and supply chain applications – the next generation of power chargers will need to respond to the growing demands of the industrial marketplace that parallel those of today’s forward-looking consumers. In increasingly automated factories and warehouses, demand will be high in 2021 for higher power and faster charging in compact universal chargers to support their higher power applications.
And GaN technology will continue to be key in automotive applications. Advances in power systems with GaN technology and battery technology are driving significant OEM and Tier 1 supplier adoption for EVs and addressing past concerns around range anxiety and car purchase price. The story of GaN in EV’s will shift to become more of a narrative about enhanced performance and new capabilities for vehicle designs, GaN Systems anticipates.

In Consumer Audio, GaN Systems foresees that, by the end of 2021, a significant number of the world’s noteworthy brands in the audio market will have GaN audio amplifiers and companion power supplies.

Class-D audio systems with GaN are smaller, lighter and provide the superior sound quality both the enterprise and consumer markets are demanding. In 2021, design engineers will use GaN transistors to solve challenges around power delivery in a small form factor. With GaN, the companion SMPS design is very efficient and operates without heatsinks. These features will allow audio design engineers to create premium audio products at shorter time to market and at an affordable price.

"In 2020, the conversation around GaN technology began to shift from a focus on early adopters and risk – to one of proven reliability and market acceptance," states the new "2021 Technology Predictions in Power Electronics" document that is now available to download here.
related items