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Freescale leverages wideband performance of GaN for differentiation in the military market

by Asif Anwar | Dec 01, 2014

Freescale Semiconductor introduced the MMRF5014H GaN-on-SiC transistor targeting military applications that can leverage what the company claims will be the industry’s highest thermal and wideband performance GaN device in its class. Typical performance of 100 W CW power has been demonstrated over 200-2500 MHz bandwidth with greater than 12 dB gain in a reference circuit, operating off a 50V supply voltage. The transistor is designed to deliver 58 percent efficiency, and power levels in excess of 125 W are possible for narrower band applications. Freescale is also highlighting thermal performance of less than 1° C/W and offers VSWR ruggedness of >20:1.

Freescale believes the wideband performance of the MMRF5014H will allow users to effectively replace multiple power amplifiers typically used to cover specific bands, replacing multiple circuits with a single design that also obviates the need for other devices such as pin diode switches. Despite GaN technology maintaining a price premium over narrowband technologies such as Si LDMOS, the displacement of multiple power amplifiers,  associated circuitry and components will also translate to cost savings overall as well as addressing the need to reduce system weight, allowing Freescale to address ongoing SWaP optimization efforts.

In the military communications sector, Freescale sees the MMRF5014H finding application in base-station and vehicle mounted radio systems. The device would also be capable of supporting the creation of wide bandwidth solutions for EW/jammer applications.

On the other hand, radar and other applications that typically operate over narrower bands may not benefit from the wideband performance offered by the MMRF5014H, depending on the end application’s specific performance needs.  However, Freescale is in a position to offer solutions using either GaN or Si LDMOS depending on the customers primary design target. 

Future products based on Freescale’s GaN-on-SiC capabilities are planned for Q1 2015. This will include a plastic packaged variant of the MMRF5014H, as well as other devices that will target lower power outputs down to 10W for handheld radios.

Freescale has been sampling the MMRF5014H to customers and received positive feedback on performance. At the time of the press release, Freescale has not disclosed pricing (details are expected to be available from the company’s product distributors), but the part will be competitively positioned in the GaN marketspace.

The MMRF5014H underpins Freescale’s ongoing commitment to support the military sector with entirely new power transistor products that leverage the wide bandwidth and efficiency capabilities offered by GaN RF technology , as well as leveraging the existing portfolio of more than 400 LDMOS RF power transistor and GaAs MMIC products.

Military radar, communications, electronic warfare and other sectors will increasingly utilize the capabilities offered by GaN. As an example, Strategy Analytics forecasts the global radar market will grow to over $18.5 billion in 2023, with the associated demand for GaN growing at a CAGR of 26.4% as it becomes an established technology. Clients of Strategy Analytics Advanced Defense Systems (ADS) service have full access to the reports and associated data model related to these sectors.

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