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Handset evolution ensures GaAs HBT's dominance

Strategy Analytics foresees the GaAs market expanding 76 percent by 2011, and that the compound semiconductor's flexibility will see it dominate power amplification in the fast-changing handset industry “over the next five to ten years”.

Strategy Analytics, the hi-tech market research company, predicts that the worldwide market for GaAs devices will grow from $3 billion in 2006 to over $5 billion by 2011.

In its annual five year outlook, entitled “GaAs Industry Forecast: 2006-2011,” the company forecasts that cellular handsets will remain the largest market for GaAs devices, with Wi-Fi emerging from the remaining group of applications to claim a clear second place in 2007 and beyond.

It also forecasts that overall wireless applications will comprise 79 percent of GaAs MMIC demand in 2011.

Asif Anwar, director of the company s GaAs service, said, “What we see over the next five or ten years is a cellular handset market which will remain in flux, and compound semiconductors are going to be the enabling technologies in that market.”

Strategy Analytics perceives silicon CMOS technology as the main threat to the market's growth, but Anwar points out that as long as communication protocols continue to change, GaAs will hold the upper hand in wireless.

“What we see from the silicon side is that no-one's actually offered a silicon CMOS based power amplifier for EDGE,” he explained.

“The market itself is moving towards EDGE, wideband CDMA and beyond.”

“That's where GaAs is meeting market needs right now and that's where silicon still needs a little while to catch up.”

Despite the positive outlook for wireless applications, the threat of silicon in other GaAs markets is very real.

Anwar said, “I'm not writing off silicon or SiGe technologies - we see SiGe taking market share away from GaAs in the fiber-optics area, especially in transimpedance amplifiers and post-amplifiers.”

“We also see SiGe competing against GaAs in the area of automotive radar.”

Ultimately, the compound semiconductor lead in handset signal transmission is significant enough for Anwar and his colleagues to base their predictions of growth upon.

“We believe that GaAs HBTs will rule the PA," Anwar asserted, “with silicon LDMOS continuing to lose market share.”

• Strategy Analytics 5-year outlook is available now "“ for details visit the company's web site.

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