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12 October 2007


GaAs pHEMT switch market tempered by captive producers and CMOS

Internal production by major users has undermined the traditional merchant market for gallium arsenide pHEMT switches, according to the report ‘RF Switch Vendors Face Captive Producers and CMOS’ from Strategy Analytics.

The largest user of RFIC switches, RF Micro Devices of Greensboro, NC, USA, now produces its own GaAs switch dice for use in power amplifier front-end modules for wireless handsets, notes the market research firm.

RFMD has rapidly emerged as the largest provider of IC-based RF switches (with a market share of 30%), almost all of which it ships in its power amplifier (PA) front-end modules for cellphones. This puts RFMD in a strong position to gain market share in Wi-Fi, as well as strengthening its position as the highest-share, lowest-cost producer of PA modules for cellphones.

According to Asif Anwar, director of the Strategy Analytics GaAs and Compound Semiconductor program, “GaAs switch vendors also face the challenge of silicon RFIC switches, particularly Peregrine Semiconductor's CMOS SoS (silicon-on-sapphire) RF switches, which have made inroads in handsets that require switches, intermediate in complexity between p-i-n diodes and multi-throw GaAs pHEMT switches.”

Christopher Taylor, director, RF & Wireless Components for Strategy Analytics and author of the report, adds, “The good news is that multiple niche markets for high-performance RF switches have continued to grow at healthy rates, which has helped specialty RF switch suppliers such as Hittite and MIMIX Broadband.”

See related items:

RFMD, Skyworks and Triquint grew GaAs device market share to 55% in 2006

Filtronic to cut 115 jobs as RFMD decides to cease buying GaAs pHEMT switches in September