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7 September 2006


Mobile infrastructure the wrong market for GaN?

Gallium nitride is entering the mainstream of process technologies for RF power semiconductor devices. Apart from some military applications and microwave communications, most interest in GaN centers on mobile wireless infrastructure and WiMAX. But, according to the new research brief ‘Gallium Nitride RF Power Devices: Is the Market Consolidating Before it Takes Off?’ from ABI Research, the economics of this price-sensitive sector may mean that it is the wrong field for GaN.

“Aside from the newness of the technology, device cost is a huge negative for GaN when compared with Si LDMOS in conventional amplifier circuits,” reckons research director Lance Wilson. “As time goes on, incremental improvement in GaN pricing will help mitigate this problem,” he adds. “However, ABI Research believes that GaN device pricing on a one-to-one basis will never approach Si LDMOS for mobile infrastructure. It is simply a more expensive process technology.”

Some developments may reduce the price gap, and performance must also be factored into the equation. But, even if superior performance is achieved, says Wilson, it will probably be only incremental. The conclusion? “In mobile wireless infrastructure, the two technologies are more or less equal in price and performance. GaN will capture some portion of the RF power amplifier business for mobile wireless infrastructure over the next few years, but certainly not all of it.”

ABI Research says it believes there will be too many GaN participants for this market segment, and at least half will drop out willingly or be forced to do so. Is GaN's future cloudy, then? Not at all, says ABI. At frequencies above 4GHz, beyond the performance range of Si LDMOS, GaN may dominate practically all of the high-power markets. Eudyna Devices and Toshiba have wisely targeted the microwave (greater than 4GHz) markets for much of their participation with GaN, and they will reap considerable benefits from doing so, reckons ABI.

Visit: http://www.abiresearch.com