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25 January 2007


RFMD receives first order for its GaN PAs

RF Micro Devices Inc of Greensboro, NC, USA has received the first purchase order for its gallium nitride power amplifiers. The order comes from “a top-tier military supplier”.

The new product that has been ordered uses RFMD’s GaN high-electron-mobility transistor (HEMT) process technology, which can operate over a wide range of microwave frequencies, making it suitable for multiple band and broadband applications, the firm says.

RFMD is manufacturing its proprietary GaN technology in its high-volume manufacturing facility, where it makes AlGaAs and InGaP HBTs and GaAs pHEMTs. RFMD began efforts to commercialize GaN technology in 2000 and expects to start first shipments in first-half 2007.

The order is for an RF3825 Power Integrated Circuit (PowerIC) broadband power amplifier, which is a 15W device capable of servicing a frequency band from 200MHz to 1.9GHz and greatly enhances the bandwidth of software-defined radios for military communications, RFMD claims.

“This first purchase order for our proprietary GaN process technology represents a significant step forward in terms of customer and market diversification for RF Micro Devices,” says president and CEO Bob Bruggeworth. “The combined revenue opportunity presented by these new markets is approximately $1bn, giving RFMD meaningful new drivers for incremental revenue, margin and earnings,” he adds.

“Our GaN development has been partially funded by the US government, and today’s announcement highlights just one of many military applications where GaN’s technical properties excel,” Bruggeworth continues. “In addition, GaN technology is applicable to markets beyond military, including public mobile radio, WiMAX and WCDMA base-stations.”

“GaN has unique electrical properties that make it the ideal technology for high-power, high-performance applications,” says chief technical officer Bill Pratt. “GaN has efficiency and power densities that are significantly greater than silicon LDMOS technology, which is GaN’s primary competition in many markets,” he adds. “Additionally, GaN technology can operate over a very wide range of frequencies. Accordingly, GaN cost-effectively addresses the multiple bands required in WCDMA, WiMAX, military jammers and other markets with a single device, compared to the multiple devices required by competing process technologies, like LDMOS.”

RFMD expects to announce future advances in GaN technology in 2007, including the availability of high-power amplifiers (HPAs) featuring high linearity, wide bandwidth and power outputs of up to 200W.

See related item:

RFMD’s quarterly revenue rises 13.8% to a record $281m