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Handset RF device market to hit $5 billion in 2016

The market size of handset gallium arsenide based RF devices is predicted to balloon from its current $3.8 billion

Unlike traditional silicon semiconductors, GaAs is mainly used in handset RF front end modules like power amplifiers (PAs). According to Research and Markets, the RF front end of 4G devices costs around $9-11, twice that of those in 3G systems and 6 times of that in 2G systems. The handset RF system mainly consists of a transceiver, PA, filter and antenna switch. The market size of handset RF devices hit about $3.8 billion and is expected to reach as much as $5 billion in 2016. Much of this is down to the 4G era, where the handset RF front end has had to become even more sophisticated. For example, the 4G iPad has as many as 19 RF front-end components. These include 7 PAs, 1 transceiver and 2 antenna switch modules (ASMs). Three of the PAs in the device are provided by Avago and correspond to three LTE frequency bands; two PAs are supplied by Skyworks and correspond to two 3G frequency bands. Another PA is offered by TriQuint, which contains three separate PA dies and corresponds to four 2G frequency bands. The final PA is in the ASM and is supplied by Japan-based Murata. The two ASMs are also made by Murata. The 4G iPad is integrated with 802.11/Bluetooth/FM and supported by Broadcom's BCM4330, and its SIP IC contains GaAs pHEMT PA provided by Skyworks. According to Research and Markets' "Global and China GaAs-based Device Industry Report, 2011-2012", Murata is the largest MLCC manufacturer, the largest communication module (including Bluetooth module and WLAN module) producer, the second largest SAW filter manufacturer and the largest antenna switch producer in the world. On March 1st, 2012, Murata completed the acquisition of the PA Division of Renesas, empowering the company to possess one of the most complete product lines in the handset RF market. Kopin, VPEC and IQE are the world's top three GaAs epilayer manufacturers, together accounting for over 60% market share. Kopin and VPEC adopt the MOCVD process and IQE applies MBE as well as MOCVD growth techniques.

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