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VPEC, Kopin and, IQE perform 80% of RF epitaxy

This is according to the “Global and China Mobile Phone RF (Radio Frequency) Industry Report, 2010-2011” which Reportlinker.com has added the to its catalogue.

Mobile phone RF system consists mainly of transceiver, power amplifier (PA) and front-end module (FEM). The RF system of a general mobile phone is simply inclusive of a transceiver and a PA. FEMs can be assembled in the form of integrated circuit or by discrete components.

To the contrary, the RF system of multi-band mobile phone which includes all 3G, quasi-4G and smart phone is exceedingly complicated now that the RF system needs several bands of transceivers and PAs.

Generally, the transceivers of mobile phone excluding Nokia are provided by baseband vendors. Most of Nokia's baseband are jointly developed with Texas Instruments, and its transceivers are jointly developed with ST-Ericsson.

Since the multi-band mobile phone in need of several PAs, the RF system of multi-band mobile phone costs as high as $9 while that of ordinary cell phone only costs $1 to $2.

Take the iPhone 2G for example, it renders Infineon PMB6952 as transceiver, Skyworks SKY77340 as power amplifier for GSM/GPRS/EDGE, and three PA chips of TriQuint--TQM616035, 666032, 676031 for the three bands of WCDMA.

The latest Samsung Galaxy S 4G is a quasi-4G mobile phone with the comparably sophisticated RF system including four key components. The sole transceiver is ST ERICSSON RF5000, and Skyworks SKY77544 comprising a PA for GSM/GPRS/EDGE is used as the FEM.

The mushrooming of smart phone, 3G phone and quasi 4G phone greatly enlarges the market size of mobile phone RF system.  Mobile phone RF components are as usual made of GaAs , rather than silicon.

According to the report, only a small number of OEMs around the world are experts in this field. The fabrication flows of GaAs component start from the making of GaAs substrate followed by epitaxy, wafer fabrication to capsulation and test.

The report describes the majority of companies involved in the RF field.  It says that in the epitaxy sector, the three leaders VPEC, Kopin and, IQE, enjoy over 80% of the world's market share. In the GaAs wafer foundry sector, the leading OEMs include Taiwan-based WIN Semiconductors and AWSC as well as USA-based TriQuint, the three of which enjoy over 85% of the market share. The RF IC design companies cover RFMD, Skyworks, TriQuint, Anadigics, and Avago.
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