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“Allow Myself to Introduce Myself” and Let’s Look to 2020

by Eric Higham | 12月 19, 2019

I’ve borrowed a line from the Austin Powers movies to introduce myself and some of my new responsibilities to you. I’m Eric Higham and I’ve been the Director of the Advanced Semiconductor Applications (ASA) service at Strategy Analytics for 9.5 years. Readers of this blog may be more familiar with Asif Anwar’s work in the past decade of the Advanced Defense Systems (ADS) service. Asif has moved into our Automotive Group and I will continue to carry on with his good work. I have BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering and prior to joining Strategy Analytics, I was involved in component design, management, marketing and business development at a variety of companies. I can proudly say (I think…) that I was in the microwave industry before commercial applications were even a gleam in anyone’s eye.

So, that’s me. I’ve spent a large portion of my career dealing with the defense industry, but I’ve been away from it for a while, so it’s going to take me a moment to get back up to speed on the programs and the supply chain, but what I intend to bring to ADS is some insight into the components, block diagrams, trends and drivers that are influencing the defense market. There is an increasing amount of synergy between the commercial and defense markets, particularly at the component and technology level, so some thoughts about the commercial market will intertwine with the defense insights.

As an example of that, I’ve just published Some Thoughts on the Compound Semiconductor Industry for 2020 (and Beyond) that contains some “thoughts” (I hate to call them “predictions”, because that word seems so digital…it either happens or it doesn’t…and I think most of these thoughts will take some time to clarify) on what’s going on in the commercial and defense market as we exit 2019 and get ready for 2020 and beyond. The Insight contains much more depth than I can go into here, so let’s just throw out the thoughts and let me know what you think:

  • Trade relations will remain unsettled between the US and China at least through 2020.
  • Base station demand will not be impacted by the US/Huawei situation.
  • Suppliers counting Huawei among their largest customers will face a volatile future and this will present challenges.
  • The trade tensions with the US will force China to speed up their plans of becoming a self-contained semiconductor ecosystem.
  • 2020 will see early deployments of standalone (SA) 5G networks.
  • The millimeter wave portion of 5G will continue to ramp up, but it will still be some time before we reach a coverage footprint that allows mobility.
  • However, increasing deployments of millimeter-capable handsets and new frequency bands in the <6 GHz frequency range will get the GaAs market growing again…but slowly.
  • The “sweet spot” for the number of massive MIMO antenna radiators will increase in the short term, but it will then decline from this peak number to a smaller number…and this will benefit GaN.
  • Related to the statement above, power consumption in a base station will become a very important topic as 5G networks begin to deploy at scale.
  • Because of the many dimensions of the “right technology choice” for base stations, defense applications for GaN may be a safer bet in the foreseeable future.
  • Speaking of defense, I expect to see much more collaboration and cooperation between the defense and commercial industries.
  • Expect to hear the term “Mosaic Warfare” more frequently and expect that the principles behind that philosophy will increasingly drive device and process requirements for commercial and defense developments.
  • Fiber will increase its share of “xHaul” (front/mid/backhaul) for 5G networks.
  • Data center traffic will move quickly to higher data rate optical transport solutions.
  • Large semiconductor-savvy companies will begin to speed up the evolution of the InP supply chain.
  • The photonic integrated circuit (PIC)/silicon photonics (SiPh) evolution will be tied closely to the maturation of the InP supply chain.

It seems that if I’d been clever, I could’ve added a few more thoughts and called this something like “20 for 20”…but I’m not that clever! Also, if some of the “thoughts” seem a bit disconnected, there are slightly more than four pages of analysis that go along with the thoughts…so grab a copy of the insight for the holiday season, or get in touch with me and we can chat.

I hope everyone has a productive, safe and happy holiday season! Season’s greetings to all!

-Eric

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