5 January 2018
RF power semiconductor device market growing at CAGR of nearly 12% to 2021
© Semiconductor Today Magazine / Juno Publishing
The global market for radio-frequency (RF) power semiconductor devices – spanning silicon (LDMOS), gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium nitride (GaN) – will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 12% during 2017-2021 to about $1333.2m, forecasts a report by Technavio.
The leading players in the market are currently Infineon Technologies, Ampleon, Qorvo and Wolfspeed (Cree). Other vendors covered include Broadcom, EPC, Fujitsu Semiconductor, Integra Technologies, MACOM, Microsemi, RFHIC, Sumitomo Electric Device Innovations (SEDI), Toshiba, and WIN Semiconductors.
In 2016, the telecom segment dominated the market, with a share of more than 41%. A major driver is the increased proliferation of smartphones and tablets. Because of the increased popularity of mobile computing devices, network traffic is growing at an exponential rate. As a result, there is the continued deployment across the globe of next-generation wireless standards such as 4G and 5G. Integration of progressive wireless technologies such as long-term evolution (LTE) and Wi-Fi into smartphones and tablets has generated an increased need for new RF features in these devices. The proliferation of mobile computing devices such as smartphones and tablets is expected to encourage RF device makers to develop high-performance RF filters that meet the requirements of OEMs.
APAC dominates market
With a dominant share of more than 42% of the RF power semiconductor devices market in 2016, the Asia Pacific (APAC) region is expected to grow rapidly during the forecast period. There is high demand for improved cellular networks from developing countries such as China and India as well as South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia. Most of these nations have almost reached saturation for 3G services and have begun offering 4G as well as LTE services. The high population density of nations such as India and China, along with the economic growth, has increased demand for power applications in network infrastructure to offer better services.
“Taiwanese manufacturers are developing RF devices for smartphones and wireless communications,” notes Rohan Joy Thomas, a lead analyst for research on embedded systems. “Companies such as WIN Semiconductors and Visual Photonics Epitaxy Co (VPEC) are competing in the optic fiber telecommunication markets using their advanced technology to raise their product value and gross margins. WIN Semiconductors utilizes its production facilities at 90% of overall capacity,” he adds. “These positive developments are expected to push the overall market to gain traction in the forecast period.”
Meanwhile, the Europe, Middle East & Africa region (EMEA) is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.53% (faster than the Americas).
Competitive vendor landscape
Like most emerging compound semiconductor technologies, the theoretical benefits of wide-bandgap (WBG) materials are well known. However, the practical realization of this technology in microelectronic devices remains at its nascent stage, says Technavio. The strong supply chain for RF devices can help to promote the use of this technology for RF infrastructure. In 2015, the RF power industry saw growth driven by the large-scale adoption of LTE networks in China and increased demand for cellular infrastructure. Many device makers are equipped with the requirements to make gallium nitride (GaN) commercially successful. Technavio therefore anticipates a speedy increase in product development towards mass manufacturing.