RF&WirelessRF & Wireless

RF and Wireless

Qualcomm Challenges GaAs PA Suppliers with CMOS PAs and Complete Front-end Subsystems

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Report Summary:

After more than two years of industry rumours surrounding development of CMOS PAs and envelope tracking (ET) by Qualcomm, the company announced “RF360,” a revolutionary family of CMOS-based, front-end cellphone products consisting of CMOS multimode-multiband PAs, ET / power management ICs, antenna tuners and modular packaging for filters. Qualcomm says that it has moved into the handset RF front-end component space to solve the problem of band fragmentation, a barrier to the success of Qualcomm’s LTE chipsets, but the move also allows the company to capture a significant share of the $5 billion cellular RF front-end component market. In remarks by company officials, it seems clear that Qualcomm hopes to relegate GaAs-based PA-front-end module suppliers to auxiliary, bolt-on PA market niches, essentially relegating them to crumbs left on the table. A closer look reveals weaknesses to Qualcomm’s RF360 products, but also acknowledges that CMOS PAs enabled by ET will probably penetrate the market more rapidly and dramatically than anticipated just a few months ago.

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