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GaAs foundries expect further consolidation

GaAs foundry consolidation will take place over the next few years, says a panel of chip manufacturers at European Microwave Week.
by Richard Stevenson in Manchester, UK

Further consolidation is expected in the GaAs foundry business, according to a panel at European Microwave Week containing representatives from TriQuint, WIN Semiconductors, GCS, UMS and Filtronic.

This is because several foundries are still making a loss despite significant growth in this market, which is expected to grow more slowly during the next few years.

The upturn in the foundry market, which is now worth over $225 million a year, has seen a rapid increases in chip manufacturing volumes.

TriQuint has quadrupled its production over the last year, and fab utilization of its 150 mm line is now at 80%.

The customer base is also changing, says Stephanie Duprey, TriQuint's marketing manager for the commercial foundry, with a growth in the number of customers from other markets, such as CMOS.

A hike in chip production has also occurred at WIN Semiconductors, which has seen sales increase by over twenty times during the last four years.

"WIN was profitable last month for the first time in its history", remarked Robert Donahue, WIN's vice president of worldwide sales and markets.

The panel believed that the GaAs foundry business faced a greater threat from CMOS than SiGe, and that this technology was more likely to impact power amplifiers than switches.

"We were more afraid of SiGe three years ago than we are now," added Duprey.

All of the companies believe that GaAs foundries will still exist in 10 years time, but they might look more like silicon foundries, and they will face a threat from GaN technologies.

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