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29 October 2012

Cree launches new-generation 50V GaN HEMT technology to reduce cellular-network energy needs

Cree Inc of Durham, NC, USA has launched a range of 50V gallium nitride (GaN) high-electron-mobility transistor (HEMT) devices that, it is claimed, enable a significant reduction in the energy needed to power cellular networks.

The world’s cellular network is estimated to consume more than 100TWh of electricity per year (costing about $12bn), and 50–80% of the power is consumed by the systems’ power amplifiers and feed infrastructure. Cree says that, leveraging its new technology, radio base-station power amplifiers have demonstrated performance improvements of more than 20% over incumbent technology at a frequency of 2.6GHz, operating under the latest 4G LTE signals. This increased power amplifier (PA) efficiency could save an estimated 10TWh per year (the equivalent power output of two nuclear power plants), it is reckoned.

While operational cost savings from increased efficiency can be significant, additional substantial savings are also possible in the acquisition cost of the system, says Cree. A higher-efficiency PA can help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to save capital equipment costs through simplified cooling, and the higher-voltage GaN components can lower the cost of AC-to-DC and DC-to-DC converters, the firm adds. Overall, the impact on the total bill of materials can be as much as 10%, leading to much lower system costs.

“Our 50V GaN HEMT products can have a large impact in not only helping cellular network operators and OEMs reduce operational and capital expenses but also in helping to reduce global energy consumption,” believes Jim Milligan, business director, Cree RF. “Several tier-one telecom OEMs have already incorporated lower-voltage versions of our technology to begin realizing these benefits,” he adds. “To date, even at an early stage of deployment, we estimate as much as 2400MWh of energy has already been saved as a result. This is an equivalent carbon offset of 1400 metric tons of CO2 and represents the offset created by planting approximately 36,000 trees.”  

Cree’s new 50V GaN HEMTs, operating at output powers of 100W or 200W, are now released for both the 1.8–2.2GHz and 2.5–2.7GHz frequency bands. The devices are internally matched for optimum performance, enabling wide instantaneous bandwidths. The devices suit use in high-efficiency Doherty power amplifiers where power gains higher than 18dB at 2.14GHz and 16dB at 2.6GHz can be achieved, respectively.

The new 50V GaN HEMT transistors are available in sample quantities now, with production quantities scheduled to be available in November. Visitors to Cree’s booth 408 at European Microwave Week (EuMW 2012) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (28 October– 2 November) can learn more about the new devices.

Tags: Cree GaN RF


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