Project Title: 8” 3DGaN FinFET Technology for Energy Efficient Data Centers and 5G Network

Location: Cambridge, MA

Award Amount: $4,320,000

Finwave Semiconductor Website



5G promises to transform the next generation of wireless technology by increasing data speed and network capacity and lowering latency. Estimates project that 5G will have a $13.2 trillion impact on the global economy by 2035.

The biggest challenge facing 5G deployment is the massive power consumption it requires. Generating the ultra-wideband 5G signal (mmWave) with today's technology results in an  energy efficiency of less than 10%. More than 90% of the electricity is wasted at the radio frequency (RF) front end. As a result, 5G phones with mmWave radio waves are inefficient. Additionally, this poor efficiency results in high electricity costs for 5G operators. 

The wireless networks today use less than 20% of their total electricity consumption in the actual transmission of wireless signals. 5G networks promise a data rate of up to 1,000 times faster but have even worse energy efficiencies. Similarly, data center servers that handle Internet traffic, cloud storage, and computing use more than 50% of their energy in cooling and power delivery to the microprocessors that do the actual work. The inefficiency of electricity usage by data centers and communication networks, which are projected to consume as much as 20% of the world's electricity by 2030, not only makes Internet service costly to consumers and businesses but also threatens the environment with significant greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

Disruptive new semiconductor technologies are needed to overcome the power efficiency bottleneck to enable more affordable high-speed Gbps 5G networks, growth in cloud computing power, electricity cost savings, and a platform capable of supporting technological innovation.

Technical Approach

Finwave Semiconductor (formerly Cambridge Electronics, Inc. (CEI)) has developed technology that can solve the energy bottleneck to unleash 5G’s true potential.

Led by gallium nitride (GaN) technology experts Prof. Tomas Palacios and Dr. Bin Lu, both of MIT, Finwave has developed a disruptive 3D GaN technology with far greater capabilities than today's planar 2D GaN transistors. Finwave's proprietary 3D GaN technology overcomes the limitations of conventional 2D device structures.


Finwave's engineering team will work with industry visionaries and veterans, including Dr. James Cable,  former CEO of Peregrine Semiconductor; Ian Warbrick, former VP at pSemi and International Rectifiers; Thom Degnan, former COO of SOITEC; and John Major, former SVP at Qualcomm and CTO at Motorola, to create an ecosystem around the 3D GaN technology. They plan to transfer the technology to a U.S.-based 8" silicon wafer manufacturing plant and partner with epitaxial wafer vendors, foundries, and semiconductor chip and module manufacturers for collaborative product development.

ARPA-E Mission Alignment

Finwave’s success will significantly improve energy efficiency, reduce GHG, and create high-tech jobs in the U.S. energy efficiency and green energy industries.


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