Components > RF & Wireless Blog

The Race to New Acoustic RF Filters

by Chris Taylor | 9月 14, 2021

Filter suppliers recently started to ship SAW and BAW filters with higher performance based on thin-film SAW and doped aluminum nitride BAW resonators, but this is just the start of what promises to be a momentous race in RF components for 5G, Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7.  

As RF filter and front-end module suppliers rush to fill gaps in their product portfolios, they have in development a new generation of acoustic filters with higher operating frequencies and higher fractional bandwidths.  OEMs want acoustic filters that will improve performance and reduce size for devices using the new 5G and Wi-Fi bands, and suppliers hope to maintain market share and continue to capture value as their traditional filters and module product lines mature.

Murata and Broadcom have announced filter technologies scheduled to ship in new products next year that will likely shake up the market.  

Murata has licensed Resonant’s XBAR technology for new filter designs operating well above 2.7 GHz.  XBAR should help Murata to extend its dominance in SAW filters to the higher frequencies previously covered in the market mainly by Broadcom’s FBAR and Qorvo’s BAW filters, and beyond.  Resonant’s XBAR uses different piezoelectric materials and entirely different resonator designs than the usual aluminum nitride-based FBAR and BAW filters.  XBAR should allow Murata to launch new products and compete in the high bands (HB), and ultra high bands (UHB) in cellular phones as well as in the new Wi-Fi 6E bands.

While extending the performance of its popular FBAR filters, Broadcom has developed a SAW piezo-on-silicon technology that allows integrating multiple low band SAW filters on one substrate.  With this technology Broadcom could expand its MB-HB module products downward in frequency to include low band (LB) capabilities and take share from competitors.
Companies in China have developed domestic supplies of SAW and doped FBAR filters, Akoustis Technologies now offers high-performance single-crystal BAW filters, and Qualcomm, Qorvo, Skyworks, Taiyo Yuden and a host of lower-share players have new filters in development.  

With the importance of acoustic filters and all the R&D activity, it appears that the market for acoustic filters will remain vibrant at least well into 2030 when 6G makes its appearance.  It is still too early to call the ultimate winners.

Subscribers with access to the Strategy Analytics RF & Wireless Components service can learn more by viewing Acoustic Filters: Critical to Future RF FE Integration (PPT), also available as a video presentation, and can contact the author with any questions.

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