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Microelectronics Summary for Q4 2011

by Eric Higham | Mar 14, 2012

The latest Strategy Analytics GaAs and Compound Semiconductor Technologies Service (GaAs) viewpoint, “Compound Semiconductor Industry Review October-December 2011: Microelectronics,” captures product, technology, contract and financial announcements for companies such as RFMD, Skyworks Solutions, Fujitsu, ANADIGICS, Agilent, Hittite Microwave, TriQuint Semiconductor, Avago, NXP Semiconductors, Microsemi, Renesas Electronics, Freescale, Broadcom Cree and Murata Manufacturing. These announcements address a variety of commercial and military applications that use gallium arsenide (GaAs), gallium nitride (GaN), Silicon carbide (SiC), silicon germanium (SiGe) and complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technologies.

On the financial side, results were generally positive with most of the semiconductor companies reporting sequential quarterly revenue increases. The biggest exceptions were silicon device companies Freescale and Microsemi and GaAs device manufacturer TriQuint. The third calendar quarter is typically the largest revenue quarter for semiconductor companies as their customers ramp production of consumer devices in preparation for the holiday season. Based on this quarter, the three largest GaAs device manufacturers, Skyworks, RFMD and TriQuint all appear to be on different trajectories. Skyworks closed their fiscal year with a 32% increase in revenue. With the timing of their year-end, this is a bit deceiving because it captures the last quarter of 2010, which was a very good year for GaAs. However, this much is clear: Skyworks is consolidating their postion as the largest compound semiconductor device manufacturer. RFMD, after seeing year-over-year revenue drop by about 20% in the first half of 2011 finally saw a revenue increase in the third quarter. After exiting 2010 with strong revenue growth, TriQuint maintained enough growth to surpass RFMD's revenue in th first half of 2011. They have been unable to maintain this growth and closed 2011 just below RFMD.

Even though the compound semiconductor industry growth rate is slowing from previous levels, product and process development is continuing, particularly with Gallium Nitride (GaN). As products using GaN technology continue to gain acceptance in military and commercial applications, development activities at microelectronics companies are accelerating. GaN-based products have demonstrated performance advantages for military systems for some time and they are finally beginning to see acceptance in commercial applications, such as CATV and wireless infrastructure. As these application areas broaden, the industry is responding by increasing their efforts to develop new products, processes and partnerships. Recent announcements indicate growing interest in GaN-on-silicon processing to reduce cost and higher voltage GaN processes to improve power handling performance. Nitronex was particularly active in this area, announcing a multi-stage GaN device with interstage matching, a new 48V GaN-on-silicon process and qualification of the GCS foundry for production of Nitronex's existing GaN processes. In addition, RFMD expanded their line of GaN CATV amplifiers, Mitsubishi Electric anounced two C-band amplifiers for earth station satellite applications and UMS announced their first GaN transistor, targeting a variety of applications.


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