1 October 2020
NXP opens new 6” RF GaN fab in Arizona
NXP Semiconductors N.V. of Eindhoven, The Netherlands has held a grand opening for its 150mm (6-inch) RF gallium nitride (GaN) fab in Chandler, Arizona, which is claimed to be the most advanced fab dedicated to 5G RF power amplifiers in the USA.
Combining NXP’s expertise in RF power and high-volume manufacturing, the new internal factory supports the expansion of 5G base stations and advanced communication infrastructure in the industrial, aerospace and defense markets.
The virtual opening ceremony was marked by keynote addresses and remarks by NXP executives plus federal, state and local government officials, including Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally, US Representative Greg Stanton, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, City of Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke, US Department of Commerce Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade Joseph Semsar, and Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United States Andre Haspels.
“Today marks a critical milestone for NXP,” said NXP’s CEO Kurt Sievers in his keynote address. “By building this incredible facility and tapping key talent in Arizona, we are able to bring focus to GaN technology as part of driving the next generation of 5G base-station infrastructure.”
With 5G, the density of RF solutions required per antenna has increased exponentially, but maintaining the same box size and reducing power consumption is mandatory, notes NXP. To address these conflicting requirements, GaN power transistors have emerged, as they deliver significant improvements in both power density and efficiency.
NXP reckons that nearly 20 years of GaN development expertise and wireless communication industry knowledge position it well in this next wave of cellular expansion for 5G. The firm says that it has optimized its GaN technology to improve the electron trapping in the semiconductor to deliver high efficiency and gain with what is claimed to be best-in-class linearity.
“Power amplifiers play an important part of the radio technology,” comments Joakim Sorelius, head of Development Unit Networks at longstanding customer Ericsson. “Similar to Ericsson’s recent US investments, we are pleased to see NXP’s investments in the US semiconductor process development with the continuous focus on improving RF system performance for future high-demanding radio networks.”
NXP says that its strategic move to build an internal GaN fab was driven by its ability to achieve higher performance benefits through leveraging its core competency in cellular infrastructure design, its track record in high-volume manufacturing, and its consistency in quality processes.
The new facility in Chandler “underscores NXP’s decades-long commitment to GaN and the communications infrastructure market,” says Paul Hart, executive VP & general manager of the Radio Power Group at NXP. The new RF GaN fab is “ready to scale to 6G and beyond,” he adds.
The fab is set to ramp quickly, with NXP leveraging its Chandler-based team and its long-standing expertise in compound semiconductor manufacturing.
“With this new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chandler, Arizona is set to expand its reputation as a high-tech manufacturing hub and a pioneer in 5G innovation,” comments Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.
The internal factory will serve as an innovation hub that facilitates collaboration between the fab and NXP’s on-site R&D team. NXP engineers can now more rapidly develop, validate and protect inventions for current and future generations of GaN devices, resulting in shorter cycle times for NXP GaN innovations, it is reckoned.
The new GaN fab is now qualified, with initial products ramping in the market and expected to reach full capacity by the end of 2020.