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MMICs Update Predicts A Decrease In InGaP And InP Markets

According to Research & Markets’ latest report, GaN and SiGe will overtake the GaAs MMIC sector while InP and InGaP demand in MMICs will dwindle.

Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "The MMICs Update Report (MMICs2)" report to its offerings.

This report is an update following Engalcos first report on the (compound semiconductor) MMICs industry which was released in summer 2008.

The most important resource by far is the regular contact maintained by a mixture of telephone, e-mail and physically meeting appropriate industry executives the majority of whom are well known to the authors. Beyond this the authors also naturally make substantial use of various web sites both corporate and otherwise.

In the report, the authors refer to developments in microwave frequencies (between 700 MHz and 20 GHz) and “millimeter-wave" frequencies (above 20 GHz). The higher microwave frequencies, notably “X-band" (8.2 to 12.4 GHz), and Ku-band (~12.4 to 18 GHz) are of particular importance in both military and satellite applications. The Ka-band (26.5 to 36 GHz) is increasingly significant in new satellite configurations.

The report points out that many of the new and proposed systems implement combinations of both Ku-band and Ka-bands. MM-wave has generally become increasingly important in EW seekers.  ICC modules use mm-wave technology and it is predicted in the report that in 2013, the 79 GHz band will become the dominant specification.

The great majority of “pure-play" and fabless players are headquartered in the U.S., which is also the economy with the largest markets for most of the MMIC products considered. Exceptions are cell phones and certain other “commodity" products that are manufactured mainly in Europe (e.g. Nokia) or the Pacific Rim (“RoW"), notably and increasingly China (e.g. Huawei, ZTE).

The authors identified a total of 67 MMIC players addressing these markets. Although most of the players are “pure-play" , they mention Hittite Microwave and Mimix Broadband as the two of the most prominent  of  the fables MMIC companies.

A relatively large number of companies offer GaAs MMICs. In some ways this is historical; GaAs was the first compound semiconductor material to enter the RF/microwave scene and has essentially been available as a MMIC substrate since the 1970s. Currently the markets for GaAs MMICs dominate but Research and Markets believes this overall situation will change as GaN and SiGe parts invade the market and expand their positions.

 At present, TriQuint Semiconductor and WIN Semiconductor are said to be two of the particularly important MMIC fabs. Although the majority of manufacturers offer GaAs MMICs, many could potentially also offer GaN MMICs (some do already)

Amongst the equally important fabs that offer SiGe there are some very large players such as Freescale, IBM Microelectronics, Infineon, NXP, RFMD and TSMC.

The majority of these firms have their ultimate headquarters located in the USA and these include many of the major players such as Avago Technologies, Freescale, IBM Microelectronics, Maxim, Skyworks, TriQuint and the leading concern RFMD.

The report forecasts the following:

  • As GaN and SiGe increasingly invade the “GaAs space", a progressive decrease in the number of players offering GaAs by 2015 (and a corresponding decrease in the GaAs MMIC production by the remaining players).

  • A significant and growing increase in GaN MMIC production (often from major existing GaAs players).

  • A progressive decrease in the production of InGaP chips (by providing inexpensive linearizing feedback or feed-forward GaAs or other MMICs can be used as linear PAs)

  • Slowly shrinking InP markets – probably leaving mainly ISM or spacecraft markets.

  • Some growth in the small markets for SiC MMICs (e.g. L-bnd AESAs).

  • A significant and growing increase in SiGe MMIC production (SiGe is  very good option for high-speed signal processing).

  • The most notable change since Engalo’s 2008 report is the doubling of the MMIC houses addressing the cell phone market. This is not surprising considering the relatively large size of the market sector.

    It was found that five more players than in 2008 are addressing the burgeoning SATCOM market. Ka-band (broadband service) is now well established and growing strongly.

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