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GaAs Cellular PA Market to Retain Dominance

Despite competition and pricing pressures, GaAs will remain the dominant technology in PAs over the next five years, with continuing gains by CMOS and LDMOS in cheaper mobile devices.

Strategy Analytics RF & Wireless Components market report, “PA Forecast 2011 - 2015,” makes a case for the strong growth of the cellular RF power amplifier (PA) market to $3.7 billion over the next five years.

This will be driven by LTE, multi-mode PAs, cellphone sales in developing countries and growing demand for data devices.

According to Christopher Taylor, Director, RF & Wireless Components, “LTE devices will quickly emerge as the second most significant driver of PA demand after UMTS devices.  Most LTE devices require one 2G / 2.5G power amp, one or more 3G power amps, and one LTE power amp.”

“ While this may sound like a windfall in the making for PA suppliers, OEMs will demand multi-mode PAs that can handle more than one air interface to reduce the front-end complexity and bill of materials in LTE mobile devices.  Multi-mode PAs require improved methods to manage linearity and efficiency, such as envelope tracking, which will bring new players into the PA market as partners or competitors to existing PA vendors,” he concluded.

According to Eric Higham, Director of the Gallium Arsenide and Compound Semiconductor service at Strategy Analytics, “The changes coming to the power amplifier market represent new opportunities for CMOS PAs to compete with the incumbent GaAs, but also new technical challenges.  Overall, GaAs will remain the dominant technology in PAs over the next five years, with continuing gains by CMOS and LDMOS especially in lower-priced mobile devices.”
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