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What’s on the Compound Semiconductor Horizon?

by Eric Higham | Aug 31, 2016

It’s always with a bit of ambivalence that I turn the page on another summer. I like summer, but I’m forced to contemplate the yin and yang of the season. This was a great summer in New England. The weekends were wonderfully sunny and warm, but the region is now in a severe drought because we’ve had the driest summer on record. I spent some relaxing time at the beach with family members that I don’t see as often as I would like, but then had to help them navigate through the stressful Delta Airlines flight cancellation fiasco early in August.

While I’m sad to have to say goodbye to family and relegate all the wonderful shared experiences to my memory (and my digital camera), I am excited to welcome the start of another compound semiconductor conference season. I have the pleasure of presenting at the inaugural EDI CON USA 2016 in Boston in September and then attending SCTE Cable-Tec Expo '16 in Philadelphia the following week. The compound semiconductor market is very dynamic these days, with discussions of GaN, GaAs, InP, SiGe, SiGe and RF CMOS developments and how these technologies will fit into 5G, IoT, cellular, wearables, DOCSIS and a whole host of other applications. The battleground for these technologies and applications remains the same, as all the technologies are trying to capture as much market share as possible and all the applications are trying to establish a viable business case. I’m looking forward to listening to experts in all these different areas and formulating opinions that I can pass on to clients, readers and most anyone who will listen.

As I tuck away the last vestiges of summer, let me point out a couple of reports I recently published that illustrate some interesting developments in the GaN market. One of the bigger summer announcements was Infineon’s acquisition of Wolfspeed (the intended name for the IPO of Cree’s Power and RF Division). I blogged about that acquisition last month and this was just the latest consolidation news in the GaN market. The 2015 Snapshot of GaN Supply Chain Companies report takes a look at the capabilities, announcements and direction of GaN device manufacturers, including companies addressing either RF or high power electronics applications. The high power electronics market is very active and it does appear that GaN and SiC technologies are finally gaining a foothold in these silicon-dominated applications. I plan to expand my GaN coverage to include high power electronics applications by the end of the year, so stay tuned.

As a companion to the last RF GaN Forecast, I published the 2015 RF GaN Market Share. This spreadsheet addresses market shares for the overall RF GaN market, along with shares for commercial and defense revenue. The biggest surprise was how quickly the share of Sumitomo Electric Device Innovations (SEDI) GaN revenue has grown. SEDI capitalized on the massive LTE base station deployments in China and rode this activity to a dominant position in RF GaN revenue. As the wireless markets and equipment suppliers position for 5G, I will continue to keep tabs on the growth of the entire GaN market and supply chain. If you would like to know how to get any of these documents, please feel free to contact me.

So, I hope that you are as excited as I am to understand the next wave of developments in the compound semiconductor industry. We are in for some exciting times!


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