Gallium Nitride Power Transistors Priced Cheaper Than Silicon


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Spectrum IEEE


Last week, El Segundo, Calif.-based Efficient Power Conversion, announced that it’s offering two types of power transistors made from gallium nitride that it has priced cheaper than their silicon counterparts.

“This is the first time that something has really been higher performance and lower cost than silicon,” CEO Alex Lidow says. “Gallium nitride has taken the torch and is now running with it.”

Gallium nitride and silicon carbide have long been attractive alternatives to silicon in power electronics: they’re capable of faster switching speeds and can handle a higher voltage than a same-sized silicon device. But silicon has long been less expensive to manufacture.

Efficient Power Conversion (EPC) has two cheaper offerings: a 60-volt and a 100-V power transistor. The company says such devices should be ideally suited for a range of applications, including wireless power transfer, laser ranging systems for cars, and RF transmitters.


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Adios, silicon: Why exotic designs are the future for the chips in your gadgets


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Silicon falls into what the chip industry calls group IV of the periodic table of the elements. One way to keep pushing progress will involve elements drawn from columns to either side of the group IV column — thus the term III-V materials, pronounced simply “three-five.”

With III-V chip manufacturing, all that stays the same — but silicon will get new elements layered on top. That will help electrons flow faster, which means less voltage needed to get them moving. If the chips need less power, then transistors can be smaller and switch faster.

One company betting its future on III-V materials is Efficient Power Conversion, a 34-person startup led by Chief Executive Alex Lidow. EPC already is seeing steady revenue growth from devices that incorporate a III-V layer made of gallium nitride (GaN). In 2016 or 2017 he expects to adapt the gallium nitride manufacturing process to work for the logic circuits that do the thinking in computer processors. Because of gallium nitride’s electrical properties, “you immediately get a thousand times potential in improvement” over conventional silicon, he said.

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Energy-Saving Material Gets a Boost


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A material used to make power-saving light bulbs is gaining momentum in the world of semiconductors. KKR & Co. is the latest to place a bet.

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How This Tech in Self-Driving Cars Is Paving a Road Beyond Silicon


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Fortune LiDAR

Ever heard of gallium nitride transistors? You’re about to thanks to Lidar in cars. 

In the future, self-driving cars will require laser-based sensing tech, and these systems will need new types of high-speed transistors and chips that can beat out silicon.

That’s the assertion of Alex Lidow, a Stanford PhD physicist, entrepreneur, and CEO and founder of Efficient Power Conversion (commonly called EPC), a company based in El Segundo, Calif. that makes transistors and chips out of a material that operates more quickly and efficiently—and costs less than silicon.


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Emerging server technologies: 6 hot trends to watch


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Emerging Server


Whether the servers running your company’s applications are on your developers’ desks, in your data center, or in your private cloud, the technologies inside the racks are what enable—or throttle—application speed, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. The right new components and configurations, either added as upgrades, or “forklifted” in a hardware refresh, can be key to new activities such as analytics, big data, and machine learning.


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