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RF and Wireless
PA Market in Flux CMOS PAs and Envelope Tracking Emerge as Major Themes at MWC 2013
Qualcomm’s RF360 front-end subsystem for handsets elicited a flurry of power amplifier (PA) and envelope tracking (ET) announcements at MWC ’13 as competitive counterweight, with no fewer than 10 companies releasing new details about how they will support ET to enable better LTE devices. Adoption of ET in LTE handsets has suddenly moved about 18 months closer to reality, with first products likely to appear by late 2013 or early 2014 in production mobile devices. Perhaps paradoxically, new PAs and ET from Qualcomm’s GaAs-oriented competitors will dilute Qualcomm’s new presence in the RF front end, but widely available ET will also improve prospects for CMOS PAs, challenging the dominance of leading GaAs-based PA suppliers Skyworks, RFMD and others.