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13 October 2008


TriQuint claims smallest, most integrated GPS RF front-end module

RF product maker and foundry services provider TriQuint Semiconductor of Hillsboro, OR, USA is sampling the TQM640002, its latest highly integrated RF module for global positioning satellite (GPS) navigation systems.

The new front-end module combines filter and low-noise amplifier (LNA) functions in what is claimed to be the smallest package available, enabling new wireless handset applications as well as mobile and automotive designs.

The device expands TriQuint’s existing GPS portfolio, which includes surface acoustic wave (SAW) filters in use by most of the world’s leading personal navigation device (PND) makers. TriQuint has shipped more than 130 million filters to global GPS manufacturers, including three of the top four PND vendors (as determined in estimates by Canalys in late 2007). According to GPS SAW filter shipment records, TriQuint supplied the world’s leading PND makers with 66% of all SAW filters used worldwide last year, and has maintained its leadership position in 2008.

“The market for GPS is clearly moving toward integrated modules,” says TriQuint’s GPS product marketing manager Joshua Raha. “It’s a similar pattern we've seen and continue to see in the mobile phone handset market,” he adds. “TriQuint is already the world’s largest GPS SAW filter manufacturer and a leading designer and manufacturer of highly integrated handset modules. It was a natural move for us to bring our integration expertise from handsets to the GPS space.”

Raha claims that the new GPS module is unique in several ways, including a 3mm x 3mm form factor that suits adding location-based functions to size-conscious wireless handsets. He adds that the compact size also suits new generations of mobile GPS consumer devices, industrial and automotive applications.

The TQM640002 includes TriQuint’s smallest two-in-one SAW filter and can operate with a supply voltage of either 1.8V or 2.8V. The firm claims that the filters provide better rejection than other market solutions (a key factor for manufacturers needing to filter out signal interference). Filtering is especially important for GPS products, because satellite-based location data signals are relatively weak compared to terrestrial RF sources. “Better rejection preserves the signal you want while filtering out the rest,” says Raha. “This is particularly important in the hostile RF environment seen in handset applications, where noise or spurious signals interfere with functions like simultaneous voice and GPS usage,” he adds. “The out-of-band cellular signals can compress the GPS LNA, rendering the entire GPS chain unusable.” The rejection that the new module provides effectively protects that chain, enabling simultaneous GPS and voice communication on a cell phone.

“This new module also offers the advantage of zero matching,” Raha continues. “This ‘plug-and-play’ approach simplifies both design and manufacturing of our customers’ GPS-enabled devices,” he reckons. “The fact that there are no matching components results in additional space on the board,” (a key advantage in handset applications, where every square millimeter saved enables another function or a smaller form factor).

TriQuint says that it engineered the new module in consultation with several major GPS and personal navigation pioneers, including SiRF Technology Inc of San Jose, CA, USA, which creates solutions that use the GPS system to bring location awareness to consumer products.

“The location-based services market has great potential, with GPS now appearing in a wide range of exciting new consumer and industrial products,” says Tim McCarthy, director of SiRF’s Wireless Marketing Group. “The new TriQuint module will make it easier to add GPS to these new products.”

Consumer demand for products based on global navigation satellite system (GNSS) technology is accelerating. According to Chris Taylor, director of RF and Wireless Components for market research firm Strategy Analytics, shipments of GPS products will continue to grow worldwide, with the newest devices on the market benefitting from integrated modules.

Strategy Analytics estimates that more than 200 million GPS-capable electronic devices will ship this year, and that shipments will continue to increase at a compound average annual growth rate of 27% through 2012 as the use of GPS expands in cell phones, PDAs, mobile computing devices and vehicles. The GPS radios in most of these systems benefit from higher sensitivity and faster time to ‘first fix’ (the time that a GPS receiver needs to acquire navigation data and calculate a solution) when used with an external LNA such as the TQM640002, says Taylor.

See related item:

TriQuint’s Q2 growth slowed by delayed product ramp

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