Yole forecasts that 2014 will only generate $10-12 million in device sales (in addition to R&D contracts and so forth).
"Such a moderate business means only the strongest will survive, and that several early-birds will see their cash-flow swiftly dissipate," says Yole.
According to Yole, the GaN business will ramp up in 2016, exceeding the “psychological threshold” of $50 million in revenue.
How can GaN survive the next 1 1⁄2 - 2 years? “At the risk of being overly-pessimistic, some companies will not survive, and will either be acquired or go bankrupt”, says Yole.
“Overall, 2020 could see an estimated device market size of almost $600M, leading to approximately 580,000 x 6” wafers to be processed”, says Yole's Dr Philippe Roussel, "ramp-up will be quite impressive starting in 2016, at an estimated 80% CAGR through 2020, based upon a scenario where EV/HEV begins adopting GaN in 2018-2019”.
The power supply/PFC segment will dominate the business from 2015-2018, ultimately representing 50% of device sales. At that point, automotive will then catch-up.
“In UPS applications, the medium-power segment is likely to be very much in line with the GaN value proposition, and savings at system level will be demonstrated. We think GaN technology could grab up to 15% of market share in this field by 2020”, says Roussel.
Considering the possible improvement of conversion efficiency, and helped by a predicted price parity with silicon by 2018, Yole expects GaN to start being implemented at a slow rate in motor control by 2015-2016, and reach around $45M in revenue by 2020.
The PV inverters segment has already adopted SiC technology, and products are now commercially available. It’s possible that GaN could partially displace SiC thanks to better price positioning. However, now that SiC is in place, qualifying GaN may be more challenging.
Recent announcements show that the GaN industry is taking shape as mergers, acquisitions and license agreements are settled.
"The latest Transphorm-Fujitsu agreement, in addition to Furukawa’s IP portfolio’s exclusive licensing, are positive signs that GaN technology is spreading across the value chain, reinforcing the leaders’ market position but likely leaving the weakest players by the wayside”, says Roussel.