Navitas touts GaN for $13 bil. market as Foxconn focuses on SiC in chip revolution

08, Sep. 2021

Navitas Semiconductor's GaNFast chip technology in Sharge fast charger can simultaneously fast-charge four mobile devices. (Photo: Navitas)
Navitas Semiconductor's GaNFast chip technology in Sharge fast charger can simultaneously fast-charge four mobile devices. (Photo: Navitas)

By Celine Chen

TAIWAN, NNA - Much media attention on the global chip shortage has focused on the ongoing disruption to the production of cars and electronics, and how Taiwan semiconductor foundries are rushing to boost capacity to pacify client panic.

Bringing hope to the situation are producers of next-generation GaN and SiC semiconductors that cater to the ever-growing consumer desire for things that are better, faster, smaller and cheaper.

One of them is Navitas Semiconductor which shared their latest innovations in revolutionary gallium nitride (GaN) chips at Semicon Taiwan 2021's online forum on September 7.

Headquartered in Dublin, Navitas sees smaller, faster and more efficient GaN as representing a second revolution in power electronics, creating "a seismic shift that occurs once every 40 years," said Dan Kinzer, its co-founder and chief operating officer.

Gallium nitride technology runs up to 20 times faster than legacy silicon and enables up to three times more power or three times faster charging in half the size and weight, said the startup.

Apart from delivering up to 40 percent in energy savings, it is also a green technology.

GaN power ICs (integrated circuits) now dominate flagship mobile fast chargers and are being recognized by electric vehicle (EV) and solar microinverter companies as the next-gen solution for higher-power systems.

Its mass adoption across many segments from products for consumers and enterprises to renewables and e-mobility vehicles can create a potential global market worth $13.1 billion by 2026, said Navitas.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, which also participated at the Semicon forum, said it will produce new-generation silicon carbide (SiC) chips to help ease bottlenecks in global EV supply chains.

Better known as Foxconn, the Taiwanese foundry will convert a Hsinchu fab into a facility for SiC production and research, said its chairman, Young Liu. The company will also invest for expansion in Japan and Malaysia besides seeking more collaborations.

At the virtual forum, SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao said a record $7 billion in capital investment would be made in compound semiconductors, such as SiC chips, this year. He expects it to go up to $8.5 billion with rising demand from the EV, green energy and 5G markets.

Taiwan's TSMC, the world’s largest semiconductor foundry, collaborated with global chip leader STMicroelectronics last year to accelerate the development of advanced power GaN solutions to serve an emerging market in high-performance products.

They noted that the technology is ideally suited for broad-based adoption in evolving automotive, industrial, telecom, and specific consumer applications across both the 100V and the 650V categories.

Specifically, power GaN and GaN IC technology-based products will enable ST to provide solutions for automotive converters and chargers for hybrid and electric vehicles and facilitate the highly anticipated rise of an EV megatrend.

Founded in 2014, Navitas has become a growing industry leader in GaN power ICs.

It has shipped more than 25 million proprietary units with zero reported field failures to top-tier global clients like Dell, Lenovo, Xiaomi, OPPO, LG, Amazon and Belkin.

Attracting much investor and industry interest, Navitas will soon go public with Oak Acquisition Corp. II (Live Oak II), a special-purpose acquisition company listed on New York Stock Exchange following their merger which values the combined entity at $1.04 billion.

Navitas will use the capital to hasten product development and expansion into power semi markets using GaN chips to enhance mobile, consumer, enterprise, renewable, and EV and eMobility products.

Rick Hendrix, CEO of Live Oak, said, “This is the most compelling opportunity we have seen in the semiconductor industry, and we are delighted that Navitas’ solutions contribute meaningfully to reduced carbon emissions through more efficient power delivery. The capital raised through this transaction will allow Navitas to accelerate that vision as they expand from mobile and consumer markets into even more power-intensive applications like data centers, solar energy and electric vehicles."

Last month (August), Navitas announced the launch of the upgraded China-made Sharge 100W Charger Pro which uses its GaN technology to enable simultaneous fast-charging for four mobile devices.

Chairing the Semicon Taiwan forum, Brian Lee, chief strategy officer of Taiwan's Win Semiconductors Corp, said Kinzer was invited to present cutting-edge technology insights and market trends of compound semiconductors.

Kinzer, who is also Navitas' chief technology officer, is hailed as a global pioneer in power semiconductor. He was inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame of the 2018 International Symposium on Power Semiconductor Devices and ICs.