GaAs-based high power diode lasers are the most efficient source of optical energy, and are in wide use in industrial applications, either directly or as pump sources for other laser media. Increased output power per laser is required to enable new applications (increased optical power density) and to reduce cost (more output per component leads to lower cost in $/W). For example, laser bars in the 9xx nm wavelength range with the very highest power and efficiency are needed as pump sources for many high-energy-class solid-state laser systems. We here present latest performance progress using a novel design approach that leverages operation at temperatures below 0°C for increases in bar power and efficiency. We show experimentally that operation at -55°C increases conversion efficiency and suppresses thermal rollover, enabling peak quasi-continuous wave bar powers of Pout > 1.6 kW to be achieved (1.2 ms, 10 Hz), limited by the available current. The conversion efficiency at 1.6 kW is 53%. Following on from this demonstration work, the key open challenge is to develop designs that deliver higher efficiencies, targeting > 80% at 1.6 kW. We present an analysis of the limiting factors and show that low electrical resistance is crucial, meaning that long resonators and high fill factor are needed. We review also progress in epitaxial design developments that leverage low temperatures to enable both low resistance and high optical performance. Latest results will be presented, summarizing the impact on bar performance and options for further improvements to efficiency will also be reviewed.