MacBook users might be getting a charger from Apple that’s less of a brick. At last! The Mac-maker reportedly will start sourcing power adapters made with gallium nitride. GaN semiconductors allow these vital accessories to be significantly smaller than the old silicon ones.
That should be welcome news to Mac users, as the power adapters that come with MacBooks now are noticeably bulkier than third-party options.
That could change with GaN chargers supplied to Apple by Ireland-based Navitas Semiconductors, according to Digitimes. TSMC will make the necessary GaN-on-Si chips.
The unconfirmed report doesn’t specifically say the power adapters are for MacBooks. Apple recently stopped bundling a charger with all iPhones, so the new ones are for the company’s laptops or tablets. Or both.
A report from last winter said Apple was working on a 65W model for release in 2020. But that didn’t come arrive.
Apple charger: Silicon vs. gallium nitride
The chips in power adapters have been made with silicon since the early days of the computer age. Apple uses this material in all its offerings. But gallium nitride semiconductors are much more efficient. “GaN chargers can be produced which are far smaller than even the most compact silicon devices,” points out charger-maker RavPower.
Consider the Aukey Omnia Mix3. It uses GaN to offer 90W of power in a casing about 20% smaller than the standard MacBook charger, and it offers a pair of USB-C ports and a USB-A one. Apple’s larger power adapter offers only a single USB-C port.
The Minix Neo P1 is even smaller, and still makes room for dual USB-C ports and a USB-A one. But it can only put out 66W.
Either of these are good examples of what an upcoming Apple charger using gallium nitride chips might look like.