The 2022 Top Technology Predictions in Power Electronics

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GaN Systems Predictions for 2022: Powering The Global Economy

OTTAWA, CANADA, December 15, 2021: For the past several decades, the subject of power consumption has consistently been viewed as a challenge addressed primarily by incremental technology improvements, government regulations, and shifting consumer behavior. As 2022 approaches, GaN Systems predicts bolder and more proactive action from companies around sustainability and environmental impact – particularly in the way we use power.  

In 2022, we foresee a significant increase in the demand for and adoption of GaN-powered products. The high reliability of GaN power transistors and its ability to bring economic advantage to numerous industries – especially consumer and automotive power supplies – will become ever more commonplace over the next twelve months – and beyond.

For the past twelve months, our conversations with corporate leaders have continued to confirm GaN Systems’ belief that yesterday’s silicon has reached its limits in solving critical power systems challenges around energy efficiency and design. GaN (gallium nitride) power semiconductors are the clear and undisputed solution driving unique forms of product innovation that deliver robust competitive advantages in power-reliant industries.

Prediction 1: CONSUMER ELECTRONICS: Fast-Charging, Multi-Device Chargers and New Levels of Audio Quality Hit the Mainstream Marketplace

CHARGERS

  • In 2022, we will see even more highly-optimized GaN chargers delivering the kind of value consumers are demanding. Chargers made with GaN deliver faster-charging speeds and higher power efficiency (up to 50% less power loss) –  in smaller, sleeker form factors than the much larger traditional silicon chargers, sometimes called bricks. These new GaN chargers can power multiple devices, so consumers will need fewer chargers in their backpack or briefcase. This will significantly impact the more than 30,000 tons of landfills generated by discarded cell phone and laptop chargers each year.
  • In 2022, we’ll be talking about one charger that charges everything. GaN fits the customers’ needs better than ever before. Who doesn’t want a charger that’s designed to deliver more power, is smaller, compliant with the latest safety standards and has better energy efficiency  – all at the same time? With the costs predicted to come down and more manufacturers such as Harmen and Dell offering high-power GaN chargers, there is no reason consumers shouldn’t buy one the next time they want to get power from the wall to their phone or another gadget.

HIGH-DEFINITION AUDIO 

  • In 2022, GaN Systems predicts an exponential growth of GaN in the Class D audio market, expected to reach $4.92B by 2026. By replacing legacy silicon transistors with GaN, audio companies make vast design improvements, including higher audio quality, smaller size, more power, no heatsinks and smaller form factors.
  • GaN has helped innovative companies such as Syng (recently named as a Best Inventions of 2021 by Time Magazine) and Orchard Audio launch better sounding, better looking and higher-performance audio systems in 2021. This has paved the way for 2022, when the biggest names in audio will be launching GaN audio products, marking a new era in high-quality audio experiences.

Prediction 2: DATA CENTERS: The Global Data Explosion Places Increased Pressure on Energy Sources and the Environment

  • Data center operators are focused on profitability and reducing their CO2 emissions. As they are significant electricity users, addressing the issues of energy sources and efficiency can be essential parts of a forward-looking strategy in both of these areas. Major technology companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, and Tencent have made and acted on public commitments to renewable energy use. Adding GaN power supplies to the mix accelerates progress towards reaching their business and ESG goals.
  • GaN power supplies are smaller and more efficient than their silicon-based predecessors. Using GaN power supplies in racks and individual servers enables data centers to increase overall server density by up to 56% – with more servers, CPU power, and storage in existing racks.
  • Replacing silicon power supplies with GaN delivers three immediate benefits.  First – Greater data density, which translates into extra profit. Second – lower CAPEX from decreased energy bills and reduced OPEX from a delayed buildout of new facilities. And finally, data center companies are also reducing their CO2 emissions because of greater energy efficiency with GaN.

Prediction 3: ELECTRIC VEHICLES: We Are At The Beginning Of A Game-Changing Revolution In The Way We Power Our Vehicles 

  • Technological advances in electric vehicles (EVs) reduce costs and provides the increased driving range demanded by many consumers. The combination of more power-dense batteries, lightweight materials and new wide-bandgap semiconductor solutions for the entire powertrain are driving the market. Gallium nitride (GaN) is a wide-bandgap semiconductor with remarkable intrinsic characteristics. It provides numerous advantages at the system level for better performance.
  • Given its proven reliability and performance superiority over Silicon, GaN will increasingly become the technology of choice for power conversion in automotive power electronics. New advances in GaN power semiconductors with superior performance over legacy silicon solutions enable the design of lighter, smaller, and significantly more efficient onboard chargers and inverters. Auto manufacturers are committed to significant EV development, and they will look to lock up GaN capacity agreements in 2022. 

Prediction 4: SUSTAINABILITY: The Aggregate Impact of GaN Is Significant in Creating a More Sustainable World

  • Electric vehicles: GaN transistors are an essential part of the evolution of EVs, with more than 600 million predicted to be on the road by 2040.  Used in a vehicle’s onboard charger and traction inverter, GaN can increase driving range by 6% – and that’s important in an industry where every percentage counts. 
  • Data centers: In a data center, for each set of 10 racks, the use of GaN power semiconductors in power supplies can increase profits by $3 million while reducing CO2 emissions output by more than 100 metric tons per year – huge numbers when multiplied by the hundreds and even thousands of racks in large data centers. 
  • Renewable energy storage systems: GaN is an essential building block in our next generation of residential and commercial renewable energy storage systems to bring greater resilience and efficiencies to individual customers and the energy grid. GaN transistors used in energy storage systems result in 4 times less power loss resulting in more power output and a more economical solution.

Prediction 5: SUPPLY CHAIN 2022: Building a More Resilient and Sustainable Global Economy

  • The continued demand for electronics and resurgent demand for cars and other consumer goods has created a supply shortage across the semiconductor industry that needs to be addressed by increased production. Financial analysts such as JP Morgan predict that supply will catch up with overall demand by late 2022 or early 2023. 
  • Capacity agreements with chip providers are now more critical than ever. For example, the automotive industry spends around $40 billion on power electronic transistors per year. Electric vehicles require four times the number of semiconductors compared to traditional cars.  As EV production moves accelerate, automotive manufacturers are looking to lock up contracts to ensure a multi-year supply of chips. 

The Road Ahead in 2022: Power Is Now the Economic Market Maker

Power should never be taken for granted and viewed as an endless commodity resource.  How it is produced and used has consequences that are too profound and far-reaching for that any longer.

In 2022, we will find ourselves amid a game-changing business and environmental revolution in how we power our world – in which our behaviors, government policy, and technology innovation will all play influential roles.

Electric vehicles must become mainstream. Renewable energy systems must become a vital part of a new 24/7 on-demand renewable energy grid. Data centers must simultaneously embrace both their business and environmental responsibilities. The growth of landfills must not be accepted as we develop products with multiple purposes and longer lifespans.

GaN plays a vital role in all these changes. With its ability to deliver greater energy conversion efficiency and power density with smaller and lighter power systems, GaN enables companies to create entirely new classes of products and systems. That makes both good business – and environmental sense.