FET driver boasts fastest switching speeds for GaN class-D audio

RF SOI (silicon on insulator) pioneer, Peregrine Semiconductor, claims that the UltraCMOS PE29102, high-speed FET driver delivers the industry’s fastest switching speeds. It has a switching frequency up to 40MHz, enabling design engineers to extract the full performance and switching-speed advantages from GaN transistors, says Peregrine. In class-D audio amplifiers, this high-speed FET driver enables GaN

technology to deliver superior audio performance with low jitter.

Paul Wiener, vice president of strategic marketing at GaN Systems, says: “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.”

The challenge of audio system designers is to minimise size, without compromising 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 10 and deliver reduced distortion and smooth sound. However, to reach this performance potential, says Peregrine Semiconductors. GaN transistors need an optimised 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.

Alex Lidow, CEO and co-founder of Efficient Power Conversion (EPC) believes:

“In class-D audio systems, the audio performance is impacted by the FET characteristics. 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’s UltraCMOS technology platform enables integrated circuits to operate at much faster speeds than conventional CMOS technologies, explains Peregrine. This speed advantage results in significantly smaller power converters, which benefits the design engineer with increased power density.

Mark Moffat, director of Peregrine’s power management product line adds: “In the case of audio, GaN technology is enabling the next-generation of class-D audio advancements, and Peregrine is proud to enable GaN in audio and beyond.”

To showcase the GaN-enabling capabilities of this driver, Peregrine 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 evaluation 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 EPC eGaN half bridge. This board is available from EPC via its distributor, Digi-Key.

The UltraCMOS PE29102 is a high-speed FET driver with a switching speed up to 40MHz. It is suitable for either half-bridge or full-bridge configurations. The PE29102 integrates resistor-settable and internal dead-time control and is implemented to preserve the integrity of the incoming audio signal, confirms Peregrine. When used in conjunction with GaN FETs, low dead times minimise crossover distortion in class-D applications. The PE29102’s 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.

Offered as a 2.0 x 1.6 mm flip-chip die, PE29102 volume-production parts, samples and evaluation kits are available now. 



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