USB-C chargers just got smaller, and more efficient, thanks to Navitas Semiconductor‘s revolutionary and bleeding-edge technology: GaNFast. It’s not available tomorrow. You can buy it right now from Amazon or other online retailers.
The acronym/portmanteau “GaN-Fast” stands for two things: the first part, “GaN” stands for gallium nitride, which is a semiconductor or a material that falls somewhere between a conductor and an insulator. Generally speaking, materials that can conduct and resist with minimal waste heat production make for ideal transistors in power supplies and chargers. That’s in theory. In reality, Navitas’s implementation of GaNFast reduces power consumption by a whopping 40% over the current generation of silicon transistors.
The “Fast” part refers to its compatibility with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 4.0 specification, which allows for faster charging. GaNFast also works with the non-proprietary Power Delivery specification, which is common among USB Type-C equipped laptops and some smartphones. (Chargers shouldn’t output Power Delivery and Quick Charge over the same port, since this can cause a potentially device breaking power output).
Anker’s Atom PD 1 USB-C Charger (27-Watt)
For example, Anker’s PD 1 27-watt USB-C charger packs 27-watts of charging output into a a cube that’s about 1.6 x 1.8 x 1.5-inches. It’s 40% smaller than the stock Apple charger that outputs a similar amount of energy. The charger isn’t yet available for purchase although it will arrive very soon.
Anker did tease the impending release of two other chargers, including a dual USB-C charger and a dual USB-A (the older standard) combined with a dual USB-C charger.
The highest wattage USB-C charger with GaNFast technology is the Innergie 60C with GaNFast. Out of the three companies with GaNFast chargers on the market, Innergie’s pedigree is the strongest.
The powerhouse designer behind Innergie is Delta Electronics Group which makes power supplies for most of today’s laptop manufacturers. If Delta makes a power supply, it almost certainly meets the standards set by USB-IF.
RAVPower also produces a USB-C charger based on GaNFast technology. Instead of packing Navitas’ circuitry into a cube-shaped USB-C charger, RAVPower chose to use a thinner profile at 15mm thick. It provides 45-watts of power, similar to the Innergie 55cc USB-C charger and Navitas’ Mu One charger.
It’s among the thinnest chargers out there, although because it integrates the electrical prongs into the body of the charger, it makes it difficult plugging it into overloaded surge protectors.
Future of USB Type-C Chargers?
Gallium nitride stands a chance of replacing silicon in transistors. There is another technology known as silicon carbide which offers similar characteristics as GaN transistors. However, it is not available yet in consumer applications.
The difference between the two technologies is that GaN is here now. In the short term, GaN technology offers manufacturers a way to produce power supplies that are smaller, more efficient, and less prone to overheating. But power supplies (and transistors) are found in all modern electronics. GaN may just revolutionize our devices, particularly the larger power supplies found in desktop computers and laptop charging bricks.