Automotive DC/DC 50% Size Reduction with GaN Systems and Renesas

OTTAWA, Canada – Oct. 11, 2022 – GaN Systems, the global leader in GaN (gallium nitride) power semiconductors, today announced that the new Renesas Electronics Corporation’s automotive 48V/12V Bidirectional DC/DC Converter is powered by GaN Systems power transistors, resulting in significant power density improvements. The new converter uses GaN Systems’ GS61008P, a 100V enhancement mode GaN-on-silicon power transistor, to achieve a 46% reduction in system size.

The Renesas solution is aimed at 48V mild hybrid vehicles and electric motorcycles, which require high efficiency 48V/12V DC/DC converters. GaN allows for high switching frequency at high efficiency—meaning smaller magnetics and a much smaller size. GaN Systems’ GaN HEMTs allows a 50% smaller PCB area compared to using Si-MOSFETs.

Benefits​ of the new converter, see block diagram below, include:

  • A 46% reduction of the PCB area by leveraging the excellent switching capabilities of GaN Systems transistors—enabling a high-efficiency power converter with a high switching frequency of 500kHz. This allows the use of very small 1.3µH inductors, which leads to a significant decrease in size and weight. 
  • High efficiency over a wide range of loads. A combination of GaN with the automatic phase drop function achieves highly efficient power conversion even at low loads, exceeding 94% power efficiency over a wide load range of 400W to 3kW.
  • The ISL78226 PWM controller eliminates the need for complicated DC/DC converter control software development.
  • The half-bridge driver ISL78420/444 provides an easy and cost-effective method of driving GaN transistors.

“Customers in automotive are constantly looking for improvements in power density and cost, and this design is another reflection that GaN delivers significant improvements in power density in a smaller, more efficient, and cost-effective design,” said Jim Witham, CEO of GaN Systems.  “The fact that the design comes from Renesas is significant, as they are a market leader in semiconductor solutions for automotive, with a reputation for understanding the needs of the industry. This is a major step to bring the benefits of GaN technology to this customer base.” 

While GaN has significant traction in industries like consumer electronics, GaN is becoming the technology of choice for power conversion and battery charging in hybrid and electric vehicles. GaN offers much higher performance than silicon and silicon carbide at very low cost—making it possible to cost-effectively reduce the weight and increase the efficiency of a wide range of electric vehicles.

Renesas delivers embedded design innovation with complete semiconductor solutions that enable billions of connected, intelligent devices to enhance the way people work and live. A global leader in microcontrollers, analog, power, and SoC products, Renesas provides comprehensive solutions for a broad range of automotive, industrial, home electronics, office automation, and information communication technology applications.