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Qualcomm RF Front End Sales Surpass Skyworks & Qorvo

by Chris Taylor | Nov 22, 2021

In 2021, Qualcomm passed Qorvo and Skyworks to establish itself as the leading supplier of RF front end components in cellular user equipment in revenue terms. 

This was just a part of the story.  For the fiscal year ended September 26, 2021, Qualcomm sales skyrocketed to $33.6 billion, up $10.1 billion from $23.5 billion in FY 2020, an amazing achievement.

Qualcomm’s RF front-end (RFFE) generated $4.2 billion sales in FY 2021.  The RFFE includes power amplifier (PA) modules, filters, switches, PA drain modulators, 5G mmW modules, and it includes components for both the cellular radio and the Wi-Fi radio chains in cellular user equipment.  Thanks to carrier aggregation, downlink MIMO, and the sheer number of bands supported by today’s cellular user equipment, RFFE components with band-specific content for the cellular radio make up the largest part of the RFFE by far.  The RFFE excludes digital processors, RF transceivers (except RF converters incorporated into 5G mmW modules) and excludes Wi-Fi SoCs.

In calendar year 2020, Skyworks, Qorvo and Qualcomm all had close to 20 percent share of the RFFE market, with Qualcomm third behind Skyworks and Qorvo.  Qualcomm has grown its 2021 sales with 5G, where it has a high attach rate in the RFFE with its Modem-RF complete solutions, capitalizing on the success of its radio chipsets made up of its RF transceivers, baseband processors, apps processors and power management chips.  Many of Qualcomm’s RFFE customer are Qualcomm radio chipset (or platform) customers, but Qualcomm also sells RFFE components to non-Qualcomm chipset customers, mainly filters and filter modules, evolutions of the old EPCOS product lines more or less.

Qualcomm has guided that results for Q1 FY 2022, which is Q4 of calendar year 2021, will continue strong with about 10 percent sequential growth in preparation for new smartphone launches next year.  So, after adjusting from fiscal year to calendar year, Qualcomm should still have about $4 billion in RFFE sales for calendar 2021, putting them ahead of Skyworks and Qorvo in the RFFE.

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