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RF GaN device market to hit $214m by 2012

Military deployments will contribute more than early penetration into 4G wireless infrastructure, says market analyst Strategy Analytics.

The emerging market for GaN radio-frequency and power electronics will nearly double in value each year on average until 2012, driven by defense applications.

By that time GaN device revenues will hit $214 million predicts Strategy Analytics, in a report due to be published the week commencing 22 December. At that point defense applications will account for 55 percent of the sector s overall sales, which will have grown at 98 percent each year.

“It s not a mature market,” author Asif Anwar told compoundsemiconductor.net. “It takes time to get to the level where GaN devices are going to be inserted into military systems or commercial systems on a regular basis. After that the growth rate tends to level out.”

North American research programs are driving the market expansion from the military side and Anwar says that early inclusions of GaN devices into US systems are ongoing.

Strategy Analytics has been tracking individual GaN projects and larger scale spending and included both in its model for defense demand.

“There is potential for these forecasts to change quite rapidly, depending upon the administration and programs getting cancelled,” Anwar concedes.

The report also says that wireless applications will be the industry s dominant commercial driver, as power electronic device developers choose to work with SiC instead. Japanese giant Fujitsu is leading the way with its GaN-HEMT based WiMAX base stations but the analyst emphasizes that general deployment is likely to be modest.

“We re not expecting GaN to take over the world as far as wireless infrastructure is concerned,” Anwar said. “It may have a 3-to-5 percent share in 2012.”

Over this period, Anwar also predicts that SiC will remain the substrate of choice for RF and power electronic GaN, employed in more than 80 percent of devices.

He highlights long-standing GaN developers like Eudyna Devices, RF Micro Devices, Nitronex, TriQuint, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman as most likely to benefit from the sector's potential.

“The companies who have been involved from the outset are well positioned to take advantage of future growth in this market,” Anwar said.

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