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30 May 2014

Cree launches low-cost, high-power GaN RF transistors to enable higher-data-rate telecom systems

In booth #433 at the IEEE MTT International Microwave Symposium (IMS 2014) in Tampa (1-6 June), Cree Inc of Durham, NC, USA is introducing a new family of high-power GaN RF transistors based on a plastic package design, leveraging the RF performance of GaN in a low-cost platform.

Initial products include what is claimed to be the industry’s first 300W plastic-packaged transistor operating at 2.7GHz, delivering saturated output power (Psat) efficiency of 65% and broadband capability at nearly half the price of the same GaN transistor housed in an industry-standard ceramic package. Scalable to high power levels and capable of operating in all cellular telecom bands up to 3.8GHz, the new GaN transistors are expected to enable the deployment of smaller, lower-cost macrocell radio units capable of supporting the growing data demands of cellular LTE networks.

“The RF transistor market for wireless telecom infrastructure is approaching $1bn annually,” comments Lance Wilson, research director at analyst firm ABI Research. “Silicon LDMOS has been the dominant technology for the past 20 years but recently GaN RF power devices have captured meaningful market share based on performance; however, acceptance has been limited thus far due to its higher cost,” he adds. “Cree’s newest family of high-power plastic products will drive down the cost of GaN transistors to a point that is nearing Si LDMOS levels and will accelerate broader adoption in telecom applications. This will make GaN transistors a principal choice for next-generation wireless networks,” he believes.

Cree says that its new broadband GaN transistors have the flexibility to operate across multiple cellular bands, helping network operators deploy carrier aggregation solutions that join different bands of spectrum and create larger data pipes to support faster download speeds and enable additional network capacity. Cellular base-station OEMs can also leverage this flexibility to speed their time to market by addressing market requirements with fewer band-specific amplifiers.

Cree also says that its proven GaN technology provides efficiency that improves a system’s thermal design and reduces cost. More efficient solutions allow for smaller and lighter radio units, alleviating loading on already overcrowded cellular towers. Increased efficiency also creates significant savings on utility costs necessary to run the networks.

“Our new low-cost line of high-performance plastic-packaged transistors will transform the way telecom OEMs approach base-station platform design, providing greater flexibility and networking options for cellular operators to serve their customer base,” believes Cree’s RF business director Jim Milligan. “Our new packaging platform allows us to break a significant cost barrier that has prevented telecom infrastructure providers from fully exploiting the full performance capability of GaN technology,” he adds. “By delivering broadband and high-efficiency performance in a cost-effective solution, we believe GaN is poised for rapid adoption by setting a new standard for performance and price.”

Available at power levels of 60, 100, 150, 200 and 300W, the new plastic GaN HEMT RF transistors can operate at frequencies up to 3.8GHz. In addition, the family offers transistors pre-matched to cellular bands at either 690–960MHz, 1800–2300MHz or 2300–2700MHz. Cree’s GaN plastic-packaged transistors used in Doherty amplifiers have demonstrated 80W average power at 2.6GHz with 50% drain efficiency under 7.5dB PAR (peak-to-average ratio) LTE signals at 50V, with 17dB of gain at rated output power. The entire family of 50V plastic GaN transistors is verified to meet moisture sensitivity level (MSL-3) and JEDEC environmental standards.

See related items:

Cree launches highest-power and -frequency plastic-packaged GaN transistors for low-cost radar and datalinks

Cree launches low-cost extended-bandwidth GaN HEMTs to support small-cell networks

Tags: Cree GaN RF

Visit: www.cree.com/telecom

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