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IQE

1 April 2014

MACOM announces IP licensing program and supply deal with IQE for GaN-on-Si

M/A-COM Technology Solutions Inc of Lowell, MA, USA (which makes semiconductors, components and subassemblies for analog, RF, microwave and millimeter-wave applications) has announced an IP licensing program that will make available its gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si) technology to select companies for use in RF applications. MACOM detailed recent progress in two areas critical to realizing its future vision of enabling the mainstream adoption of GaN as a large-scale RF semiconductor technology across the industry.

As a first step, MACOM has announced a license and supply agreement that will enable IQE plc to use its patent-protected technology to manufacture GaN-on-Si epitaxial wafers at 4-, 6- and 8-inch diameters in high-volume for RF applications. This move is expected to enable MACOM to deliver GaN RF products with breakthrough bandwidth and efficiency at mainstream 8-inch (200mm) silicon cost structures, and to enable IQE to accelerate GaN penetration into key target markets.

MACOM also says that it is in active discussions to make GaN-on-silicon technology available to select companies for use in RF applications. The firm believes that establishing such large-diameter wafer manufacturing sources will be a key factor in driving mainstream, commercial adoption of GaN technology. Surety of supply is of critical importance in power-amplifier-dependent markets such as cellular base-stations, MACOM reckons. According to market research firm Strategy Analytics, power amplifier transistor revenue from base-stations will grow to more than $1bn in 2014.

“We are nearing a watershed moment for the RF & microwave industry, promising breakthrough performance for compound semiconductors and leveraging large-scale silicon production facilities that operate at orders-of-magnitude greater economies of scale,” says MACOM’s president & CEO John Croteau. “Our recent acquisition of Nitronex and its portfolio of fundamental IP rights related to GaN-on-silicon materials, process, and device technology for RF applications provides us with the foundation for a licensing program that will help bring our vision of GaN performance at mainstream 8-inch silicon cost structures a reality,” he believes.

As the world’s biggest supplier of compound semiconductor epitaxy (with the largest independent manufacturing capacity), IQE currently supplies over 50% of the world’s RF epiwafers, and is already established as the leading provider of GaN high-electron-mobility transistor (HEMT) wafers for RF, broadband, and military power amplifiers. IQE can hence achieve enhanced economies of scale, says MACOM, helping to build the wafer capacity and cost structure needed to grow the GaN market.

Transistors for these applications have historically been fabricated using 3 inch and/or 4-inch (100mm) silicon carbide (SiC) substrates. To complement these products and increase market reach, IQE has developed and demonstrated growth of GaN HEMTs on industry-standard silicon substrates at wafer diameters of 100mm, 150mm and 200mm. IQE reckons that this technology, along with the comprehensive IP portfolio licensed from MACOM, will enable tremendous economies of scale, wafer capacity, and cost structure needed to advance the GaN market.

“We are beginning to see very significant traction for GaN occurring in the compound semiconductor industry, across a wide range of applications,” comments IQE’s president & CEO Drew Nelson. “Our agreement with MACOM allows us to further penetrate this new market by bringing decades of high-volume production experience to create the necessary supply chain needed to accelerate GaN adoption,” he adds.  

“Combining GaN HEMT performance with low-cost and large diameter silicon substrates enables these wafers to be processed through existing high-volume silicon factories. Commercial availability of GaN HEMTs on 150mm and 200mm wafers represents a significant milestone toward the widespread adoption of this technology... We have already delivered MACOM 200mm diameter GaN-on-Si wafers, and we look forward to a powerful ongoing relationship,” Nelson continues.

”This partnership achieves a critical milestone in the mainstream commercializatin of GaN technology by establishing the manufacturing capability and capacity required to bring reliable, high-volume surety of supply to the industry,” believes Croteau.

See related items:

MACOM acquires Nitronex for $26m

Tags: M/A-COM IQE

Visit: www.macom.com

Visit: www.iqep.com

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