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Markets for pulsed RF power devices up to 4 GHz will show continued moderate and steady growth over the next five years and exceed $300 million by 2024, despite current economic and political turmoil. While their association with consumer spending fuels the volatility of many global electronics markets, pulsed RF power device markets are supported by quite different priorities. Pulsed RF power transmitters generate tremendous amounts of power in small bursts that are useful for radar, airborne collision avoidance systems, and military IFF equipment.
“Ampleon, NXP, and Wolfspeed are among the RF power semiconductor manufacturers on a quest to find markets unrelated to mobile wireless infrastructure,” says Lance Wilson, Research Director at ABI Research. “Device prices in wireless infrastructure are flattening out and more profitable areas are being searched for.”
The airborne transportation safety market and military market are both experiencing solid growth in pulsed RF power device shipments. The markets use the devices for military radar, weather and marine applications, and in the current worldwide upgrade of the air traffic control system. The avionics transponder and air navigation market segments are also seeing growth, which is further lifted by the overall worldwide air traffic control upgrade. Intrinsically less “optional” than many consumer markets, these segments are therefore less sensitive to economic upheavals than consumer-driven markets, although they are not totally immune to the macro economy.
There are several vendors who are already focused to varying extents on the pulsed high-power marketplace. These include Integra Technologies, Microsemi, Qorvo, and again Wolfspeed.
Understanding this, several semiconductor manufacturers are attempting to enter this market space, however, some factors may complicate their efforts. Pulsed RF power device markets are becoming very competitive technologically: gallium nitride devices are vying for market share along with the more established silicon and gallium arsenide-based technologies. Many companies are rushing into these markets and all vendors are developing GaN products of some form. Qorvo, Sumitomo Electric Device Innovations, and Wolfspeed are already producing GaN devices in volume. ABI Research speculates that there may not be the market size to support them all.
“Undoubtedly, some consolidation will continue to occur beyond what already has happened,” concludes Wilson. “While not guaranteed success, those companies that have track records working with government agencies and defense contractors will have an advantage over those that are new entrants.”
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