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CES and the Gallium-Nitride revolution, and more tech you need to know today
Your tech digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Tuesday, January 7. It’s really, really CES 2020 now. Peak CES, probably.
1. Samsung’s new devices and divides
Silicon is so over in 2020, at least where fast chargers for smartphones and laptops are concerned. There’s been a quiet revolution happening in accessory makers that will flow to larger manufacturers soon, and it’s gallium-nitride or GaN.
What and why?
- GaN has been an exotic material researched and studied since the 1990s, but only recently has it been considered for use in semiconductors beyond applications like blue LEDs, where it is commonly used.
- Research and progress has been rapid. Per phys.org, in 2013, the Department of Energy dedicated approximately $70m to power electronics research into GaN, citing its potential to reduce worldwide energy consumption. Google Ventures and others poured money into startup Transphorm back in 2011, Texas Instruments, Northrop Grumman, the list of companies involved in research and development goes on.
- All of this helped make GaN production and use feasible, with fewer defects in its structure, and we’re now seeing the benefits flow into consumer chargers.
- The key benefit is a wider band gap over silicon, which results in devices that can operate at much higher voltages, frequencies, and temperatures.
- Accordingly, integrated circuits used GaN as the semiconductor can sustain higher voltages and higher temperatures than silicon chips.
- In turn, that means manufacturers can get more performance in smaller form factors, at better power efficiencies.
- Right now, for us as consumers, it means remarkably smaller, faster, smarter power chargers.
- It’s night and day: if all current electronics swapped silicon for GaN, the world could cut power usage by between 10 and 25 percent, which is enormous.
- The likes of photovoltaics and electric cars will see benefits from GaN applications too, in time, along with 5G for mmWave technologies
- Traditional chargers are already old hat tech, but they’ll still be a cheaper option for at least 12-18 months or longer.
- …will Gallium Nitride Valley’ catch on?
CES GaN insights:
- The likes of Belkin, Anker, RAVPower, AUKEY, and more, are putting out wall and desktop chargers that are smaller than ever but pack serious power outputs.
- Many, including AUKEY, are backed by Navitas Semiconductor, a pioneer in the GaN space, providing power management integrated circuit (GanFast Power ICs) chips to the industry.
- Belkin’s new line of Boost Charge chargers come in three speeds: 30W, 60W, and 68W variants, at small form factors.
- AUKEY has a line of Omnia chargers, that are “up to 66% smaller” than the stock 13-inch MacBook chargers.
- RAVPower and Anker have chargers in the market already and there’s more to come out of CES and throughout the year.
- Because this is a new technology, it’s comparatively expensive. Many companies are working on this technology; not many are making parts for consumers yet
- AUKEY isn’t giving prices yet, while Belkin quoted $34.99-$59.99 for its new range, which is about twice as much for comparative traditional chargers, right now.
2. The Foldable Laptop is here: Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold hands on (Android Authority).
3. Gary Explains: Could ultrasound replace switches and buttons on your phone? (Android Authority).
5. TCL 10 series: TCL is the latest brand to bring 5G to mid-tier (Android Authority).
6. Samsung’s Neon is here: An ‘artificial human’ could be your next news anchor — for all the hype, they’re just digital avatars (Android Authority).
7. It’s red, it’s a Samsung Chromebook, it’s $999: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook has 4K screen, stylus, and comes in hot red (Android Authority). There’s also a next-gen 14-inch ASUS Chromebook Flip called the C436, no price yet.
8. Alienware’s latest gaming PC looks like a Nintendo Switch (The Verge).
9. The Royole Mirage smart speaker has a wraparound touchscreen display (Android Authority).
10. New Bluetooth codec improves sound quality, benefits the hearing impaired (Android Authority).
11. Intel announces a few things, including its first discrete DG1 GPU, and Thunderbolt 4 with its next CPU series (The Verge).
13. Finally, early CES 2020 good/fun/weird stuff:
- Sony unveiled a car, the Vision-S sedan (Jalopnik).
- I tried Nreal’s mixed reality glasses at CES and now I want a pair” (Android Authority).
- Otterbox wants to protect your beautiful face from your filthy phone with EPA-registered antimicrobial technology glass (Android Authority).
- Samsung’s first personal robot is a real-life mini BB-8 rolling ball (Android Authority).
- The guy at CES who just wants to talk fixing premature ejaculation with a patch (Engadget).
- The mamaRoo sleep bassinet mimics parents’ cuddles to lull babies to sleep, for $330 (Engadget).
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