NEW YORK, Jan. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The biggest enabler of the mobile data increase and the most important driver of the GaAs RF IC market is the handset segment. Much of the content of a handset is silicon-based, but power amplifiers (PAs) and switches in the front-end of the phone use GaAs devices. This report investigates the technology trends, applications, and market developments of GaAs ICs. U.S., Japanese, and European applications such as telecom, computers, defense, consumers, are reviewed. This report will provide the reader with an in-depth understanding of the technological and market factors determining the evolution of GaAs ICs.
Every cell phone contains Power Amplifiers (PA), which enables the handset to transmit voice and data back to the base station tower to route a call to another phone number or Internet address. PAs, the most critical radio frequency component in the phone are currently dominated by circuits made with Gallium Arsenide (GaAs).
3G handsets often contain up to five PAs, and GaAs makes up 100% of the market, which is close to $5 billion. In addition, the number of PAs per handset is growing because of: complex 3G systems, global roaming support, and data roaming support. Pricing for PA's has increased from $0.80 per handset to $2.90 currently and is projected to increase to greater than $3.50 once Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum emerge in advanced handsets in the marketplace.
While industrialized countries are using 3G networks, today's world is a mixture of 2/2.5G and 3G networks, the heavy majority of subscribers are actually on 2G-based networks — and predicted to remain so for a number of years. Of new handsets sold in 2010, about 50% will still be 2G. Between 70 to 80% of Skyworks' and RF Micro Device's GaAs business is in PAs.
2G handsets contain 1 PA, so it represents a sizable market. Because they aren't as technologically advanced as 3G cell phones, particularly smartphones, silicon is making inroads in the GaAs domain. For 2013, only 90% of PAs were made in GaAs, 5% in silicon CMOS, and 5% in silicon LDMOS.
The GaAs IC market is expected to reach $8 billion in 2017.
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