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RF Micro lands first GaN HEMT purchase order

The GaAs HBT pioneer makes a commercial breakthrough with the first purchase order for its GaN-based power amplifiers.

A "top-tier" supplier of military equipment has placed the first purchase order received by RF Micro Devices (RFMD) for its new range of GaN power amplifiers.

The unspecified customer has ordered the Greensboro, NC, chip manufacturer s RF3825 PAs, 15 W devices that operate over the range 200 MHz-1.9 GHz.

Based on a 3-inch GaN HEMT process and using SiC substrates, the wide-bandgap transistor technology offers a much broader bandwidth for wireless communications than GaAs or silicon LDMOS approaches. Its development has been largely funded by the US military community for applications such as long-distance radar and electronic signal jamming.

RFMD believes that applications should spread beyond the military sphere to public mobile radio, WiMAX and wideband-CDMA infrastructure, and that the combined revenue opportunity presented by these markets is in the region of $1 billion.

Last year, RFMD switched part of its depreciated 4-inch GaAs manufacturing facility in Greensboro into a 3-inch GaN fab to support the new product roll-out (see related magazine article).

With more powerful products in the pipeline, including a 200 W GaN PA, the company is hoping that it can revolutionize wireless communications with GaN HEMTs in much the same way that it did with GaAs HBTs around ten years ago.

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