This report from the Strategy Analytics RF & Wireless Components market research service summarizes efforts by more than 20 firms that will lead to simplified multi-band, multi-standard cellphone front ends, potentially reducing the cost of cellphones, while potentially disrupting established suppliers.
So far CMOS has captured a miniscule share of the PA market compared to GaAs and LDMOS. However, even in mainstream PA modules based on GaAs and LDMOS RF power elements, suppliers increasingly add CMOS support chips for linearity-efficiency management and control, which leads to the prospect of replacing the entire PA-front end with a potentially lower-cost monolithic solution in CMOS or SiGe-BiCMOS. New technologies, such as MEMS tunable elements, could enable this transition.
“The GaAs PA suppliers have stayed well ahead of CMOS PA firms by responding quickly to market needs, and by developing improved fabrication processes, filters, complex RF switches, and low-cost packaging techniques to put these together in modules,” notes Chris Taylor, author of the report. ”As we foresee the industry roadmap unfolding over the next five years in response to market needs, the GaAs and LDMOS PA suppliers will maintain this lead.”
Asif Anwar, Director of the GaAs and Compound Semiconductor program of Strategy Analytics, adds, “It is crucial that GaAs vendors continue to improve the monolithic integration supported by GaAs for cellular PAs, otherwise CMOS will eventually replace GaAs, as it did about a decade ago in handset transceivers.”
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