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Death Blow or Just a Scratch to the GaAs Industry?

by Eric Higham | 3月 28, 2014

I’m sure we all have things that we’ve seen or heard or been around for a long time and suddenly, they just assume a different meaning or you see them in a different light. For me, it’s the GaAs market, among other things and some comments I heard at a recent conference. Hopefully, you’ve seen it by now, but if you haven’t please check out After a Strong 2013, What's Next for the GaAs Device Industry?

This Insight provides a recap of the 2013 results of the GaAs device market and it is the proverbial “good news/bad news” story. The good news is the GaAs device market had a very good year, growing by 11% and moving just past $5.9 billion in revenue. The bad news is the reliance of the GaAs device market on cellular applications, primarily handsets and this success is spawning strong competition.

This is a good segue into the next part of my original statement about seeing things in a different light. I attended the Compound Semiconductor International Conference in Frankfurt last week. What a great conference! The event had first class accommodations, networking and technical presentations. If you get a chance to attend next year, I would highly recommend it. I was there to do a presentation about the silicon incursion into handset PAs and several things stood out to me. First, we were roughly 2/3 of the way through the conference before there was a GaAs-related presentation! Imagine that, a compound semiconductor conference with no mention of GaAs for more than a day. Although, that’s not quite true, because GaAs was mentioned a couple of times as the technology that is going to fall at the feet of other technologies!

It is very clear that there is a lot of exciting work being done in the compound semi industry with technologies like GaN and silicon and III-V integration on silicon and other materials aimed at applications in the LED and power electronics markets, as well as RF markets, so it’s an exciting time in the industry. I heard the proclamation that GaAs is dead because GaN will occupy the high power applications and CMOS will capture the low power applications. The seminal moment and the epiphany for me came during a presentation from Thomas Meier of TriQuint. His message was one of coexistence with the premise that the best technology will be the one that is used.

I think that is exactly right. We’ve all gotten very tied up with the GaAs or GaN and GaAs or CMOS discussion when we should be thinking about “and”, rather than “or”. To be sure, both GaN and CMOS will capture share and how much will be closely monitored in the coming years, but for the most part, consumers of products don’t care about the specific device technology contained within their electronics. As long as the device meets the price and performance targets, it’s a black box.

For the analysts, device engineers and system designers who do care, keep an eye of this blog and follow the GaAs & Compound Semiconductor Technologies Service closely as I monitor these applications and technologies!

-Eric

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