Design considerations and performance of n(++) GaN/InAlN/AlN/GaN normally off high-electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) are analyzed. Selective and damage-free dry etching of the gate recess through the GaN cap down to a 1-nm-thick InAlN barrier secures positive threshold voltage, while the thickness and the doping of the GaN cap influence the HEMT direct current and microwave performance. The cap doping density was suggested to be 2 x 10(20) cm(-3). To screen the channel from the surface traps, the needed cap thickness was estimated to be only 6 nm. Design is proved by an experiment showing a constant value of the HEMT dynamical access resistance, while a single-pulse experiment indicated almost collapse-free performance. On the other hand, it is found that the n(++) GaN cap does not contribute to the HEMT drain current conduction, nor does it provide a path for the OFF-state breakdown. HEMTs with a gate length of 0.25 mu m and a 4-mu m source-to-drain distance show a drain-to-source current of 0.8 A/mm, a transconductance of 440 mS/mm, a threshold voltage of similar to 0.4 V, and a cutoff frequency of 50 GHz. A thin and highly doped GaN cap is also found to be suitable for the processing of normally on HEMTs by adopting the nonrecessed gate separated from the cap by insulation.