Apple Is Engaged on GaN-Primarily based USB-C Chargers

Apple is expected to switch to GaN technology, which should make the chargers smaller and lighter.

Apple-96W-USB-C-Power Supply-001

Apple's power adapters are quite bulky compared to many third-party chargers available – too bulky! -. That could change soon, however, as Apple reportedly uses GaN technology for much smaller, much faster USB-C chargers.

This emerges from a new supply chain report from DigiTimes, a Taiwanese trade magazine, which claims Apple hired Ireland-based supplier Navitas Semiconductor to build a batch of smaller power supplies.

The bulky power bricks from Apple have to go

These rumored accessories are believed to utilize tiny GaN chips that are supposedly supplied by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). To complete the picture, TSMC is the world's leading semiconductor foundry and contract manufacturer that produces the chips that Apple develops itself.

This is a collection of the latest USB-C chargers from Navitas Semiconductor with GaNFast semiconductors

The DigiTimes report, citing industry sources not mentioned, explicitly mentions that Navitas "is expected to receive orders from Apple and other vendors in 2021, with TSMC supplying GaN-on-Si chips." First orders are expected to come in in 2021, suggesting Apple may replace its existing USB-C power supplies with smaller GaN power supplies later this year.

No further details were given. DigiTimes has had a fair share of hits and misses when it comes to Apple rumors. The site is respected for its supply chain expertise, but its track record in terms of timeframe could be better.

With that in mind, take this report with a pinch of salt.

How GaN chargers manage to be much smaller

GaN stands for gallium nitride, a special semiconductor with faster switching speeds, higher thermal conductivity, lower on-resistance and other advantages. The material sits somewhere between a conductor and an insulator and is commonly used in third party chargers from brands like Aukey, RAVPower, Chargeasap, and others.

This is a collection of the latest USB-C chargers from Navitas Semiconductor with GaNFast semiconductors

GaN power supplies with fast charge support

And thanks to smaller, densely packed components, a GaN charger comes in a package that has a much smaller footprint than silicon-based chargers. All of these advantages mean that power adapters based on GaN technology significantly outperform silicon-based devices.

GaN is the way forward

What can you not like about GaN power supplies when the energy efficiency and space requirements are lower compared to normal USB-C chargers? Apple will definitely take a step in the right direction should it replace its USB-C devices with GaN chargers.

As of October 2020, the iPhone will no longer come with a charger in the box to protect the environment. Replacing inefficient chargers that waste too much space in boxes with their much more compact counterparts could be the next stage in that effort.

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About the author

Christian Zibreg
(4 articles published)

Writing words that support message cycles around the world. I help keep Apple blogs going and keep the internet safe. No mouse buttons were damaged while writing.

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