8 October 2010


Renesas Electronics strengthens compound semiconductor business

Renesas Electronics Corp of Tokyo, Japan, which supplies semiconductors including microcontrollers, system-on-chip (SoC) solutions, and analog and power devices, has announced new objectives to strengthen its compound semiconductor business, which includes opto devices based on gallium arsenide (GaAs) as well as microwave devices. This follows the formation of the firm just in April through the integration of NEC Electronics Corp and Renesas Technology Corp.

Renesas Electronics aims to:

(1) Attain number-1 market shares in photocouplers and optical storage devices (e.g. visible laser diodes) and extend its leading market shares in RF switch ICs and GaAs low-noise field-effect transistors (FETs).

In photocouplers, Renesas Electronics plans to accelerate its development of high-temperature-operation, low-power and small-sized packages to address rising demand from ‘green’ markets such as hybrid and electric vehicles, LED lighting systems and electric meters. It intends to further expand sales by combining its photocouplers with its IGBTs (insulated-gate bipolar transistors, suitable for high-voltage and high-current output) and microcontrollers (MCUs), as one-kit solutions. In particular, the firm will strengthen overseas marketing by doubling headcount in that role. In addition, in anticipation of a rapid rise in demand, Renesas Electronics plans to double its production capacity over that of fiscal Q4/2009.

For RF switch ICs that enable transmit–receive switching and 3G GSM-mode switching and antenna switching on electronic devices with an RF function such as mobile phones and notebook PCs, Renesas Electronics aims to launch new low-loss transistors. Also, to be flexible to customers’ demands, it will offer its RF switch ICs either in an ultra-small package or as bare die. The firm also aims to expand its RF switch IC business through collaboration with chipset vendors in the USA, Europe and Taiwan to provide reference designs for system manufacturers.

(2) Launch new gallium nitride (GaN)-based semiconductor products by March 2011.

Unlike firms that use 3–4-inch silicon carbide (SiC) substrates, Renesas Electronics fabricates GaN devices on silicon wafers, enabling the use of larger (6-inch) wafers and hence lower-cost production. The firm plans to launch GaN-based products first for the cable television (CATV) amplifier market. Sample shipments of its first GaN-based product, a module for CATV incorporating multiple GaN FETs, condensers and other devices, is scheduled to begin by March 2011. Renesas Electronics also plans to launch other microwave and millimeter-wave devices.

Renesas Electronics expects the compound semiconductor market to increase at an average annual growth rate of 8% from 2010 to 2012, and aims to expand its compound semiconductor business by 11% (exceeding the market growth rate). The firm also plans to grow its compound semiconductor sales in fiscal 2012 by 1.2 times.

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