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11 March 2013

TowerJazz claims increasing share of front-end module market

Specialty foundry TowerJazz (which has fabrication plants at Tower Semiconductor Ltd in Migdal Haemek, Israel, and at its subsidiaries Jazz Semiconductor Inc in Newport Beach, CA, USA and TowerJazz Japan Ltd) has announced significant customer engagements and market share gain in the front-end module (FEM) market.

TowerJazz says that its Silicon Radio Platform (SRP) for smartphones and other mobile systems allows integration of the radio in mobile devices including components such as antenna switches, antenna tuners, diversity switches, controllers, low-noise amplifiers (LNAs) and power amplifiers (PAs), eliminating the need for more costly discrete GaAs devices, it is claimed. The SRP uses RF silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology and a SiGe PA technology together with 0.18μm RF CMOS for the integration of control and MIPI (Mobile Industry Processor Interface) interface functions.

TowerJazz claims that its latest RF SOI technology offers the industry’s best figure of merit for antenna switch and antenna tuning applications, with Ron-Coff of only 217fs. The technology has already been adopted by multiple customers worldwide, with more than 50 separate designs taped-in with initial designs ramping to production.

The firm’s silicon germanium (SiGe) PA process is fabricated in 0.18μm technology to enable the efficient integration of power amplifier, controller and MIPI interface, and also includes through-silicon via (TSV) technology to deliver performance comparable to that of GaAs at just 40% of the cost while enabling new tunable features and affording levels of integration not otherwise possible, it is reckoned.

TowerJazz reckons that the economic- and performance-driven move from GaAs technologies to Si and SiGe technologies is expected to more than triple the portion of the FEM market available to it over the next several years, and that it is well poised to manufacture a major portion of the devices that will serve this fast-growing, multi-billion dollar market. According to a 2012 report by market research firm Mobile Experts LLC, the handset front-end market is expected to double to $10bn and the number of RF paths is expected to grow to 20 billion by 2017. The report further indicates that multi-mode, multi-band handsets and MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) will drive staggering growth in the number of RF components shipped for mobile devices.

Drivers contributing to the growth in the FEM market include: connectivity everywhere (802.11a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, GPS, Bluetooth, ZigBee, HSPA+ and LTE); the expanding footprint/content in mobile platforms; and the emergence of other analog markets (e.g. smart energy, power management, and emerging automotive). TowerJazz says it is addressing these markets and further recognizes three megatrends - (1) ‘Green Everything’, (2) ‘Wireless Everywhere’, and (3) ‘Smart Everything’ - which are transforming the consumer electronics industry.

“These megatrends, coupled with the slowing of Moore's law, will create even more opportunities for specialty technologies such as those provided by TowerJazz: analog, RF, SiGe, power, MEMS, and CMOS image sensors to offer even more differentiation and create opportunities for system-level optimization of performance,” reckons CEO Russell Ellwanger.

Tags: TowerJazz SiGe


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