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Jan 29th, 2011
Military spending and GaN adoption driving RF power semiconductor markets
Although spending on RF power semiconductors in wireless infrastructure markets has continued to stagnate, other markets — notably the military — are seeing increased activity, while gallium nitride (GaN) – long seen as a promising new ‘material of choice’ for RF power semiconductors – is continuing to gain some market traction, according to the new study ‘RF Power Semiconductors’ from ABI Research (which examines devices that have power outputs of more than 5W and operate at frequencies of up to 3.8GHz, representing the bulk of applications in use today).
“Gallium nitride increased its market share in 2010,” notes director Lance Wilson. “It is expected to do the same in 2011,” he adds. “Although its adoption hasn’t been as rapid as originally expected, it is nonetheless forecast to be a significant force by 2016.”
GaN bridges the gap between two existing technologies, exhibiting the high-frequency performance of gallium arsenide combined with the power handling capabilities of silicon LDMOS. It is now a mainstream technology that has achieved measurable market share and in future will capture a substantial part of the market, reckons ABI.
Other than wireless infrastructure, the vertical market showing the strongest uptick in the RF power semiconductor business has been the military, which Wilson describes as being now “a very significant market”. While the producers of these devices are located in the major industrialized countries, the military market is now so global that equipment buyers can come from anywhere, ABI comments.
The last study that ABI published on this topic appeared in late 2009. With the new report, analysis of the six main vertical segments — wireless infrastructure; military; industrial, scientific & medical (ISM); broadcast; commercial avionics & air traffic control; and non-cellular communications — which was previously subdivided into 24 sub-segments, is expanded to 29 sub-segments.
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