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  Date: 22/01/2018

RF GaN to get another big boost by 5G networks

Yole estimates by the end of 2017, the total RF GaN market was close to US$380 million. Yole said the penetration rate in various markets particularly in telecom and defense applications, had a breakout period in the last two years: CAGR in these two markets is more than 20%.

Yole forecasts another a strong boost around 2019-2020, led by the implementation of 5G networks. The total RF GaN market size will be a factor of 3.4 larger by the end of 2023, posting a 22.9% CAGR from 2017-2023, as per Yole.

RF GaN technology is mostly dominated by the IDM companies, Sumitomo, Qorvo and Cree, the industry is at a critical stage.

Further vendor analysis by Yole:
After the failed acquisition by Infineon, Wolfspeed now reintergrate into Cree’s business. Ampleon announced an acquisition offer by a Chinese LED company, named Aurora Sapphire. This company is a competitor of San’an Optoelectronics. In addition, companies like M/A-COM and Sumitomo have begun using silver sintering as the die attach material, it helps thermal control and improves the device quality. It’s been confirmed that next step will be using pure copper as flange material for the package.

Market segment findings and technology analysis by Yole:
The telecom market, thanks to the increasing development pace of 5G networks, will bring a huge opportunity for GaN devices beginning in 2018. Compared to existing silicon LDMOS and GaAs solutions, GaN devices are able to deliver the power/efficiency level required for next generation high frequency telecom networks. Also, GaN’s broadband capability is one of the key elements for enabling important new technologies, such as multi-band carrier aggregation. GaN HEMTs have been the candidate technology for future macro base station power amplifiers. Yole Développement estimates most sub-6GHz macro network cell implementation will use GaN devices because LDMOS can no longer hold up at such high frequencies and GaAs is not optimum for high power applications. However, because small cells do not need such high power existing technology like GaAs still has advantages. At the same time, market volumes will increase faster because higher frequencies reduce the coverage of each base station, and thus more transistors will be implemented.

The defense market has been the major driving force for GaN development in the past decades. Originating in the US Department of Defense, GaN devices have been implemented in new generation aerial and ground radars. GaN’s high power capability improves detection range and resolution, and designers are becoming increasingly familiar with this new technology. Nevertheless, this military-related technology is very sensitive. And as GaN devices are becoming popular in defense applications, the development of the nonmilitary part could be affected. This is especially true in terms of mergers and acquisitions. Governments could block deals if businesses target military applications, as in Aixtron’s acquisition by FGC Investment Fund, or Wolfspeed’s by Infineon…

“GaN RF has been recognized by the industry and has become mainstream”, asserts Zhen Zong, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole. “Indeed, leading players are increasing revenue very rapidly and this trend will remain for the next several years.”

Find more on this at: yole.fr

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