Trade Resources Industry Views Peregrine's New PE29102 FET Driver Brings Fastest Switching Speeds to GaN Class-D Audio

Peregrine's New PE29102 FET Driver Brings Fastest Switching Speeds to GaN Class-D Audio

Peregrine Semiconductor Corp of San Diego, CA, USA – a fabless provider of radio-frequency integrated circuits (RFICs) based on silicon-on-insulator (SOI) – has launched the UltraCMOS PE29102 high-speed FET driver.

With a switching frequency up to 40MHz, the PE29102 delivers what is claimed to be the industry’s fastest switching speeds, empowering design engineers to extract the full performance and switching-speed advantages from gallium nitride (GaN) transistors. In class-D audio amplifiers, the new high-speed FET driver enables GaN technology to deliver what is claimed to be superior audio performance with low jitter.

The PE29102 integrates resistor-settable, internal dead-time control and is implemented so that it preserves the integrity of the incoming audio signal. When used in conjunction with GaN FETs, low dead times minimize crossover distortion in class-D applications. The PE29102’s unique set of phase-control pins enable the same part to be used for both phases in bridge-tied load (BTL) configurations — a technique used in audio amplifiers. It has an output source current of 2A and an output sink current of 4A. The PE29102 handles voltages up to 60V and supports a gate drive up to 6V.

“Our customers have validated the improved sound quality with GaN-based circuits, and we see the pairing of Peregrine’s driver and GaN Systems’ transistors as the superior solution in applications such as class-D audio, bi-directional DC-DC, and push-pull DC-AC power supplies,” comments Paul Wiener, VP of strategic marketing at GaN Systems.

Audio systems are challenged to both minimize size and deliver exceptional audio quality. At the system-design level, better audio performance and sound quality occur when distortion is reduced. MOSFET components have parasitic diodes and gate capacitance that creates jitter and distortion in class-D audio systems, whereas GaN FETs have much smaller gate capacitance and lower parasitics. GaN transistors can beat MOSFET jitter performance by a factor of ten and deliver reduced distortion and smooth sound, Peregrine says. However, to reach this performance potential, GaN transistors need an optimized gate driver. The PE29102 is designed specifically for this purpose. Its high switching speeds result in smaller peripheral components and enable innovative designs for applications like class-D audio.

“GaN is disrupting traditional power MOSFET markets,” notes Alex Lidow, CEO & co-founder of Efficient Power Conversion Corp (EPC). “In class-D audio systems, the audio performance is impacted by the FET characteristics,” he adds. “Our enhancement-mode GaN (eGaN) transistors enable a significant increase in the sonic quality and higher efficiency. High-speed FET drivers, like Peregrine’s PE29102, are critical to unlocking the performance potential of eGaN FET technology in applications like class-D audio.”

Peregrine says that its UltraCMOS technology platform is the driving force behind the PE29102’s speed, enabling integrated circuits to operate at much faster speeds than conventional CMOS technologies. This speed advantage results in significantly smaller power converters, benefitting the design engineer with increased power density.

“By enabling GaN to reach its performance potential, UltraCMOS technology and Peregrine are playing a role in GaN’s disruption into more mainstream applications,” says Mark Moffat, director of Peregrine’s power management product line. “In the case of audio, GaN technology is enabling the next generation of class-D audio advancements.”

To showcase the GaN-enabling capabilities of the new UltraCMOS PE29102 driver (which is suitable for either half-bridge or full-bridge configurations), Peregrine has developed evaluation kits with two leading GaN transistor providers (GaN Systems and EPC):

The GaN Systems GS61004B evaluation board allows the user to evaluate the PE29102 gate driver in a full-bridge configuration. The board is assembled with two PE29102 FET drivers and four GS61004B GaN transistors. The full-bridge board is available from Peregrine as EK29102-03, GaN Systems as GS61004B-EVBCD, and distributor Richardson RFPD under both part numbers. The EPC9086 is a half-bridge board that uses one PE29102 to drive the 30V, 15A EPC2111 eGaN half bridge. This board is available from EPC via its distributor Digi-Key.

Offered as a 2mm x 1.6mm flip-chip die, PE29102 volume-production parts, samples and evaluation kits are available now.

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