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SEMICONDUCTOR Partnership performs field trial of GaN in IDCs

From Johanna Erbacher

GaN Systems, the global leader in Gallium Nitride power semiconductors, and Xuzhou GSR Semiconductor Co., Ltd. jointly announced the first industry field trial of Gallium Nitride (GaN) in the power infrastructure of an Internet Data Center (IDC), a key milestone toward the universal adoption of GaN in IDCs.

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Xuzhou GSR Semiconductor Headquarter
Xuzhou GSR Semiconductor Headquarter
(Source: Xuzhou GSR Semiconductor Co., Ltd)

GaN Systems offers leading technology for higher power density with exceptional reliability, and can enable up to 20 % energy savings for a data center when compared to the use of legacy Silicon power semiconductors. These energy savings increase profit margins, lower energy consumption and reduce the data center carbon footprint. The field trial is a critical step toward global adoption of GaN in IDCs, as it confirms the magnitude of energy savings for positive environmental impact while meeting the rigid reliability requirements of data center operators. GaN Systems’ dedication to developing GaN power semiconductors with high power density, reliability and high quality has turned today’s crucial milestone into reality.

Industry insiders have high expectations and are paying close attention to progress in the adoption of GaN in data center power supply systems. According to experts from the China Institute of Communications (CIC), as an important part of the New Infrastructure, data centers will play a fundamental role in the upcoming digital economic transformation. According to estimates, in 2020, data center power consumption in China exceeded 200 billion kWh, or about 2 % of China’s total power consumption, accounting for a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.49 and a carbon dioxide emission of 135 million tons and a carbon intensity (CUE) of 0.82, which is about 1.14 % of the national carbon dioxide emissions.

The “14th Five Year Plan for Digital Economy Development” requires Chinese companies to comply with the principles of low-carbon and energy efficiency, to continuously promote green construction, accelerate energy-saving and improve the utilization of renewable energy in data centers. It is critical for data centers to improve energy efficiency as China aims to achieve carbon neutrality. Adoption of new technology for energy efficiency and carbon reduction in data centers will not only promote green development for data centers, but will also help China reach carbon neutrality by 2060.

“GaN semiconductor technology is a materials science breakthrough, and our company has dedicated years of effort to develop fast charging devices for electric vehicles, solar inverters and IDC Power Supplies around the world”, said Jim Witham, CEO of GaN Systems. “GaN Systems is thrilled to partner with GSR Semiconductors, and other leading customers, such as Great Wall, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, to leverage our highly efficient and high reliability GaN semiconductors to support China’s goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2060.”

Mr. Sonny WU, Chairman of GSR Semiconductors, further commented, “Up to 20 % energy saving for data centers is a disruptive technological innovation, thanks to the adoption of the latest GaN semiconductor technology. We expect more Chinese technology companies like Xuzhou GSR Semiconductor to build local supply chain for high end GaN chips for EV and IDC applications.”

The beta test was first launched in March at the High Performance Computing Centre of Physics Department at Northwest University (NWU-HPC). More data centers will be selected for trials going forward.

The power supplies for this trial were designed in Beijing and leverage technology from GaN Systems and GSR Semiconductor. The trial has received strong support from Shenzhen Frontier Lab, a unit of HG Semiconductors. Analysis indicates the energy efficiency of the new power supply at 50 % load up to 98 %, which is 4 % higher than that of the traditional Silicon-based power supplies. This alone can reduce the total energy consumption of the data center by 10 %. When combined with the power supply replacement of UPS power supply and cooling system in data centers, the energy reducing effect is expected to reach up to 20 %.

According to the recently released plan of the national computing power network, China has a layout of 8 national hub nodes and 10 large data center clusters. The usage of GaN power transistors for more energy-efficient PSU power modules can offer a technical foundation for the green and high-quality development of data centers, hence it supports China’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality.

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