Stealth mode is not just about startups worried about larger companies stealing their ideas. It also applies to larger ventures. Power Integration has been working on gallium nitride (GaN) technology for a decade on the quiet, and has now shipped over 1m GaN-based devices to Anker for consumer chargers.
Back in 2010, PI acquired Velox Semiconductor, a spin out of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in the US, and used the research to create its PowiGaN technology. It has taken a different approach to some startups, integrating a GaN switch into its third generation of integrated InnoSwitch devices.
The InnoSwitch devices combine the primary power switch, primary and secondary control with safety isolated high speed link (FluxLink) in between, as well as the secondary SR driver and feedback circuits in a single surface-mounted package.
GaN supports a conversion higher frequency for power supplies, but the InnoSwitch devices run at the same frequency as the previous silicon versions. While this doesn’t give a dramatic increase in efficiency, GaN allows higher current with higher reliability in the same InSOP 24D surface mount package without a heatsink, reducing the size of a 65W or 100W consumer charger.
“It’s also making things manufacturable,” said Peter Rogerson, senior director at Power Integrations. “If you have to change a lot of things then the price point becomes hideous for the user and this is for a mass market. We’ve always been pushing the efficiency curve, but once you get over 95% it gets harder, but a one percent improvement in efficiency from 95 to 96 percent is a 20 percent reduction in loses which is remarkable.