Interview with Larry Spaziani from GaN Systems

  • Larry Spaziani - Senior Vice President of Sales at GaN Systems

GaN Systems was started in 2008. everything PE recently interviewed Larry Spaziani, Senior Vice President of Sales at GaN Systems. Larry Spaziani is the seasoned engineering executive responsible for executing and delivering GaN System’s global sales strategy targeted for the consumer, enterprise, industrial, and transportation markets globally.

Q. Can you give us a brief history of GaN Systems? When was the company started, and what was the objective?

Larry Spaziani: GaN Systems was started in 2008. Unlike many startup companies in the tech sector, GaN Systems has always been about delivering Gallium Nitride power transistors and technology to the market. The founders of the company were originally investigating movie theatre-grade audio solutions. They heard about the benefits of audio by using GaN transistors (true enough, this is one of our big markets). Instead of pursuing audio, they started a GaN transistor company.

Q. What are the advantages of GaN power transistors over Silicon transistors? How do they compare in terms of performance?

Larry Spaziani: There are loads and loads of technical articles comparing GaN to Silicon, but in a nutshell, GaN transistors switch faster with lower losses. In the world of power electronics, this is incredibly important. The benefits are realized in systems:

  • Switch at the same frequency as Silicon but be much more efficient 
  • Switch 2-5x faster than Silicon and make the system much smaller
  • A combination of the two

Q. What about cost? How does the price of GaN Transistors compare to other power transistors? How can this cost be justified?

Larry Spaziani: The entire power electronics industry is now and always focused on "price+performance". It’s always a tradeoff. Today, the cost structure of the major technologies are given below:

  • Silicon is low
  • GaN is medium with a path towards low as volumes increase 
  • Silicon Carbide is high with a path towards medium, again, as volumes increase

However, the benefits of GaN at the system level are most often a lower system cost by reducing costs in the system more than enough to compensate for the slightly higher GaN cost. Considering how many customers have migrated to GaN, I’d say the industry has voted for GaN with purchase orders. 

Q. What applications and industries benefit from GaN Power Transistors? 

Larry Spaziani: The applications and industrial benefits from GaN Power Transistors:

  • EV’s by increasing the efficiency and range, while reducing the weight of EVs 
  • Consumer electronics, by making the electronics smaller and/or more efficient 
  • Solar and Energy Storage by increasing the efficiency of storage 
  • Audio by reducing the need for heat sinks and fans in high power audio, all the while making the quality and fidelity of audio outstanding compared to silicon solutions 
  • Motors, making motor efficiencies significantly higher, increasing the motor response time of motors and enabling grid-compatibility by allowing a highly efficient active infeed
  • Datacenters, where ultra-high energy costs can be reduced by using highly efficient GaN

Q. Can you tell us about GaN Systems' product portfolio?

Larry Spaziani: GaN Systems today offers the widest portfolio in the industry by providing 100 and 650 V products (most of our competitors offer one or the other) as well as the broadest current range from 4 to 150 A, allowing our customers to use our GaN in consumer products to traction motors for EV’s. Click here to view their GaN Transistors on everything PE.

Q. How do you differentiate your GaN Transistors from other companies?

Larry Spaziani: We differentiate from other companies in three ways. 

  • We offer a broad portfolio – in both voltage and current. We’re looking to add that 
  • We offer unique embedded packaging that allows customers to optimize their systems around the benefits of GaN
  • Reliability

Many companies can make a GaN transistor, but there are many ways to fail if the company is not able to understand the technology and screen out the potential failures. The nature of our customers, many of the world’s largest consumer, industrial, solar, computing, and automotive companies should convince new potential customers that we at GaN Systems have the best-in-class reliability.

Q. Can you tell us about Island Technology and what are its advantages?

Larry Spaziani: Island technology is a technique of creating a large transistor by ganging up many small transistors, but in a way that optimizes performance and yield. GaN indeed has more defects than silicon. It’s not unexpected since silicon has been perfected over the last 40 years. With GaN, if there’s a small defect within the device, we can simply “turn off” the island and ship the product for a higher yield. It also allows us to offer devices from 4A to 150A by simply scaling our designs.

Q. Can you tell us about the GaNpx packaging system? How does it help designers and systems engineers?

Larry Spaziani: GaNpx packaging provides extreme speed and current. Key features of packaging:

  • A near chipscale embedded package
  • High current density & low profile
  • Optimal thermal performance
  • Extremely low inductance
  • No wirebonds

GaN transistors switch very very fast. It’s a benefit, but it’s also something that means inductance in the circuit can hurt performance. Embedding allows us to optimize the inductance and, therefore, the circuit performance. It also allows us to offer products where the customer can cool the device from the topside or bottom side, offering excellent system flexibility.

Q. Can you tell us more about GaN Systems Circuit Simulation Tool? How does it help evaluate/integrate GaN FETs into end products?

Larry Spaziani: Power electronics is a well-established and mature market, but it still evolves as devices evolve, like GaN. Our simulation tools offer our customers an easy and fast way to compare “what they have now with what GaN can offer.” Our Engineers have spent enormous efforts to make sure our simulation matches our actual device performance too, so we’ve developed a good reputation for our simulations reflecting the reality of power electronics. 

Q. What is your product roadmap for the next three years?

Larry Spaziani: The GaN world is growing fast, and many new competitors are entering the field, so our roadmap is, unfortunately, entirely proprietary. We are, however, expanding our voltages, our currents, our packaging, and working with partners; we’re also elevating our solutions to include more functions.

Click here to learn more about GaN Power Transistors from GaN Systems.

About Larry Spaziani

Larry Spaziani is the seasoned engineering executive responsible for executing and delivering GaN System’s global sales strategy targeted for the consumer, enterprise, industrial, and transportation markets globally. In addition to the last eight years at GaN Systems, Larry has 25 years of experience in the electronics industry, including management roles at International Rectifier (an Infineon Technologies company), Chil Semiconductor, Unitrode, and Texas Instruments. Previous to GaN Systems, Larry was Executive Director of Enterprise Power Business Development with International Rectifier. He forged relationships with external business partners and technology leaders while managing the company’s product development team. At Unitrode and Texas Instruments, he was responsible for off-line and isolated power products. Larry holds an MSEE from Boston University.