28 July 2020
GaN Systems Inc of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (a fabless developer of gallium nitride-based power switching semiconductors for power conversion and control applications) has issued its latest technical manual ‘12V High-Efficiency Audio Reference Designs using GaN Power Transistors’.
The technical manual was developed in response to the launch of its Class-D audio amplifier evaluation kit in May and from growing customer interest for designs in the 12V market for automotive, marine, powersports and other applications from power system design engineers.
High-quality audio is now a ‘must have’ across all segments from pro-audio, home-audio and portable audio, says the firm. Class-D audio systems using GaN are not only smaller and lighter but provide better sound quality, it adds.
The new technical manual provides several amplifier designs for 12V input systems using GaN Systems’ Class-D audio amplifier evaluation kit, which includes a 2-channel, 200W-per-channel (8Ω) Class-D audio amplifier and companion 400W continuous power audio-grade switch-mode power supply (SMPS), including:
- Single-Phase and Dual-Phase 12V Boost Converter design supports both a ‘direct’ +12V to +18V single-rail power supply and a ‘boosted’ +12V to +18V single-rail power supply configuration;
- Direct +12V to +18V VIN Supply to +/-32V VOUT Boost Converter design supports a ‘direct’ +12V to +18V VIN supply and allows for the best cost versus power output trade-off, while maintaining the desired audio performance.
In audio systems, delivering more power and more channels has typically meant driving up size and weight and sacrificing sound quality. With GaN, designers can provide more power, more channels and better sound quality in small, lightweight solutions, says GaN Systems.
The technical manual, as well as the Class D amplifier and power supply kit and white paper ‘See, Feel, and Hear the Difference with GaN Class-D Amplifier and Companion SMPS’, are available at www.gansystems.com/class-d.
II-VI acquiring Ascatron and INNOViON to form vertically integrated SiC power electronics platform
13 August 2020
Engineered materials and optoelectronic component maker II-VI Inc of Saxonburg, PA, USA – which manufactures silicon carbide (SiC) substrates – has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all the outstanding shares of Ascatron AB of Kista, Stockholm, Sweden (which was spun out of research institute Acreo in 2011).
II-VI will also acquire all the outstanding interests of the owners of the parent firm of INNOViON Corp of Colorado Springs, CO, USA, which provides ion implantation technology for silicon and compound semiconductor devices.
Both transactions are scheduled to close by the end of 2020.
Led by a team of experts in wide-bandgap materials with more than 200 person-years in the SiC and semiconductor industry, Ascatron produces SiC epitaxial wafers and devices that enable a wide range of high-voltage power electronics applications.
INNOViON is said to be the world’s largest provider of ion implantation services, with 30 implanters across a global footprint supporting capabilities in semiconductor materials processing for up to 300mm wafers. The firm’s processes enable doping in a wide range of semiconductors, including silicon carbide, gallium arsenide, indium phosphide and silicon.
The technology platforms of Ascatron and INNOViON complement to II-VI’s SiC substrates, global large-scale wafer fabrication footprint, and the SiC device technology licensed from GE in June, says II-VI’s CEO Dr Vincent D. Mattera Jr. “While we continue to serve our existing customers with our advanced materials and components, we will combine these capabilities to achieve one of the world’s most advanced, in-house, vertically integrated 150mm SiC technology platforms,” he adds. “This builds upon our deep expertise in SiC substrates and adds advanced SiC epitaxy, device fabrication and module design to meet the rapidly growing demand for SiC power electronics.”
SiC represents a disruptive technology in power electronics through advantages that are pivotal to electric vehicles (EVs), renewable energy, micro-grids and power supplies for data storage and communications. SiC achieves superior efficiency, higher energy density and lower total system-level cost of ownership compared with silicon-based devices.
II-VI says that, as a part of its vertical integration strategy, it is leveraging its broad engineered materials and optoelectronic device technology platforms, as well as its manufacturing capabilities around the globe, to drive scale and innovation through the development of high-performance compound semiconductor devices.
AOI’s revenue rebounds by 61% in Q2 post-COVID
13 August 2020
For second-quarter 2020, Applied Optoelectronics Inc (AOI) of Sugar Land, TX, USA – a designer and manufacturer of optical components, modules and equipment for fiber access networks in the Internet data-center, cable TV broadband, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and telecom markets – has reported revenue of $65.2m, up 50% on $43.4m a year ago and 61% on $40.5m last quarter.
“We had disruptions in operations in our China factory during Q1,” notes chief financial officer & chief strategy officer Dr Stefan Murry. “However, due to the hard work and dedication of our employees and supply chain partners, we are back to normal operations and have increased capacity in both our wafer fab in Sugar Land as well as our factories in China and Taiwan compared to our capacity pre-COVID.”
Revenue was well above the $55-60m guidance, driven by strong demand from new data-center customers, increased customer diversification, and record revenue in the telecom segment led by increased deployments of 5G mobile technology in China.
Cable television (CATV) product revenue was $6.1m (9% of total revenue), down 38% on $9.8m a year ago but up 45% on $4.2m last quarter, as the firm resumed manufacturing at a normal capacity, driven by increased 5G activity and increased order flow in North America for CATV upgrades.
Telecom product revenue was a record $6.2m (10% of total revenue), up 141% on $2.6m last quarter and up 279% on $1.6m a year ago, as it outpaced CATV business.
Data-center revenue was the highest in two years at $52.5m (81% of total revenue), up 58% on $33.3m last quarter and 65% on $31.8m a year ago. Of this, 33% came from 40G transceiver products and 64% from 100G products (up 350%, the second consecutive quarter of year-on-year growth in 100G transceivers). “We continued to see increased data-center demand during Q2 from a diverse set of customers,” notes Murry.
“We are encouraged by the increased contributions from our newer customers, which has led to a meaningful improvement in customer and end-market diversification,” says founder, president & CEO Dr Thompson Lin.
The top 10 customers comprised 86.9% of revenue (down from 90.9% a year ago). Three were 10%-or-greater customers (all in the data-center segment) contributing 35% and 15% and 12% of total revenue, respectively. One of these was a new 10% customer (a US-based hyperscale cloud operator, mainly purchasing 100G transceivers), where AOI has been gaining share. AOI has also seen increasing revenue from a large US-based switch router vendor that approached the 10% revenue level. Rounding out the top five was a data-center customer in China. There were three other customers that each contributed 5-10% of total revenue. Overall, this compares with only two 10%-or-greater customers and one at 5-10% a year ago, versus six customers each over 5% now. “Our efforts in diversifying our customer base continue to show tangible results, and many of these new customers are contributing meaningfully to our results,” notes Murry.
“In addition to the market diversity, our top 10 customers are also geographically diverse. Out of our 5%-or-greater customers in Q2, all but one were US-based multi-nationals, and the remaining one was a China-based switch router vendor primarily serving the data-center market,” he adds. “Looking at our top 10 customers in Q2, seven were US-based multi-national corporations, two were based in China and one in Europe.”
On a non-GAAP basis, gross margin was 23.1%, up from 19.5% last quarter but down from 27.2% a year ago, and at the low end of the 23-25% guidance range due to an unfavorable product mix (mostly in the data-center segment) as well as some continued COVID-19-related expenses (including manufacturing and shipping costs).
Operating expenses were $20.6m (31.6% of revenue), up from $19.5m (44.9% of revenue) a year ago, due mainly to increased shipping costs, sales commissions and insurance costs.
Net loss was $5m ($0.24 per share), cut from $5.2m ($0.26 per share) a year ago and $8.8m ($0.44 per share) last quarter.
Cash used in operations was $15.5m. Capital expenditure (CapEx) was $5.8m, including $5m in production equipment and machinery plus an immaterial amount on construction and building improvements. This is lower than expected, due primarily to a COVID-related pause in construction on the firm’s new China factory.
Regarding the after-market offering announced in February, AOI has so far raised gross proceeds of $22m (including $7.7m in July, after the end of Q2/2020). The firm intends to use the proceeds for continued investment, including new equipment and machinery for production and R&D.
Overall during the quarter, cash, cash equivalents, short-term investments and restricted cash fell from $62.5m to $58.9m.
Inventory rose from $87.1m to $97.3m, driven by additional raw materials purchased for production orders on hand and forecasted orders.
“During the quarter, we have had design wins, including four with telecom customers which are related to 5G network deployments, mainly in China. The other four design wins were with existing customers in our data-center segment,” says Lin. “Looking ahead, we expect this momentum to continue into the third quarter, driven by similar trends in increased demand from both our data-center and telecom end-markets,” he adds.
“We continue to see high demand from our data-center customers, who remain focused on improving network performance in light of the increased traffic related to the shift toward working from home,” says Murry. “We also received our first orders from CATV customers that we believe are related to network upgrades by MSOs also responding to stresses on their networks,” he adds. “For the remainder of the year, we expect to ramp up production to meet order demand.”
For third-quarter 2020, AOI expects revenue to grow 20% sequentially to $76-83m. Gross margin should rise to 25-26.5%. Net loss is expected to be cut to $4.6-0.6m ($0.20-0.03 per share).
“We expect gross margins to recover to pre-COVID levels as we implement cost reductions that were delayed by the pandemic,” says Murry. “More favorable product mix will lead to improving gross margin over the next several quarters,” adds Lin.
“We expect to resume spending on our new facility in China in Q3, and we anticipate this to be reflected in increased spending on construction and building improvements,” says Murry. “Including this resumption in building expenditures and other equipment necessary to increase our production capacity, we expect total 2020 CapEx to be about $42m.”
Acacia sampling 100G QSFP-DD coherent pluggable module
12 August 2020
Acacia Communications Inc of Maynard, MA, USA (which develops and manufactures high-speed coherent optical interconnect products) is sampling new 100G coherent pluggable solutions specifically designed for optimization in edge and access applications with unamplified links up to 120km.
Offered in a QSFP-DD form factor widely used for client-optics, the new 100G coherent point-to-point (P2P) edge and access solutions were designed to provide network operators the ability to scale to higher data rates to meet growing bandwidth demands over some of the most challenging optical links, while also providing operational simplicity that may lead to overall network savings.
“Acacia has a long-standing track record of driving coherent into new market applications by delivering the technology, scalability, feature set and innovation that service providers need to maintain and grow their networks over time,” says Acacia’s director of product management Anuj Malik. “Leveraging our 10 years of high-performance coherent transmission expertise, we specifically designed our new 100G coherent P2P solutions to meet the needs of edge and access applications in terms of form factor, power consumption and cost, building on our technology leadership in silicon photonics and low-power digital signal processors (DSPs).”
Compared with alternative direct-detect solutions, coherent P2P solutions are extremely tolerant to fiber types, chromatic dispersion, polarization-mode dispersion (PMD) and back reflections, which simplifies operational deployment. Edge and access networks, particularly those offering 5G wireless and enterprise services, can benefit from coherent technology because it has ample optical margins that can easily handle the condition and reaches of the access fiber plant, resulting in shorter provisioning times. Coherent P2P solutions are user friendly in deployment and provisioning due to low laser emission, wide tolerance range and rich monitoring and diagnostic features, says Acacia. Pluggable coherent solutions in QSFP-DD were designed to enable network scalability to ensure that data rates can scale up by leveraging the QSFP-DD slots with 200G and 400G versions in the future.
“Technology advancements have reached a point where coherent pluggables match the QSFP-DD form factor of grey optics, enabling a change in the way our customers build networks,” says Keven Wollenweber, VP product management for Cisco’s Routing Portfolio. “100G edge and access optimized coherent pluggables will not only provide operational simplicity but also scalability, making access networks more future proof,” he adds.
“Over the past decade, coherent technology has moved beyond its long-haul origins and is now firmly entrenched in the metro,” comments Sterling Perrin, senior principal analyst at Heavy Reading. “With the coming of 5G and edge computing, the time is right for coherent optics to take the next step and migrate to edge and access networks. Operators looking for scale and operational simplicity will find QSFP-DD coherent pluggables a compelling option compared to direct detect alternatives.”
Acacia’s 100G QSFP-DD P2P fixed-wavelength hot-pluggable module is designed to operate over various types of unamplified single-mode edge and access fiber links up to 120km. The solution leverages Acacia’s 3D Siliconization approach, which utilizes high-volume manufacturing processes and benefits from the maturity of Acacia’s silicon photonics technology.
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