Cree Semiconductor Re-Enters High-Power RF Transistor Market

Cree Semiconductor Re-Enters High-Power RF Transistor Market SUMMARY HED: Gallium nitride transistors deliver 300 Watts at 2.7 GHz At the start of the DTV transition, Westinghouse and Cree partnered to show a high-power solid-state transmitter using silicon carbide transistors. I wrote about the Cree device in my RF Technology for November 1993. However, as far as I know, none of these transmitters were ever used for broadcasting.

Cree is back in the RF power amplifier business, this time targeting 2.7 GHz wireless bands with a new family of high power, low-cost Gallium Nitride (GaN) RF transistors based on an innovative package design.

The initial products include what Cree claimed is the industry's first 300 Watt plastic-packaged transistor operating at 2.7 GHz. It offers saturated power efficiency of 65 percent and provides broadband capability at a price that Cree claimed was nearly half that as compared to the same GaN transistors using standard ceramic packaging.

"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," said Lance Wilson, research director at ABI Research. "This will make GaN transistors a principle choice for next-generation wireless networks."

The new Cree GaN HEMT RF transistors are available at power levels of 60, 100, 150, 200 and 300 Watts and they can operate at frequencies up to 3.8 GHz. Pre-matched transistors are available for cellular bands, including 690 to 960 MHz, 1800 to 2300 MHz and 2300 to 2700 MHz.

I doubt that Cree will get back in the broadcast market, but given the power capability, cost and frequency range of these devices it will be interesting to see if any TV transmitter manufacturers consider their new GaN devices.

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Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack. A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.