State of the Compound Semiconductor Industry A Focus on Communications

Ralph Quinsey CEO TriQuint Semiconductor; rquinsey@tqs.com, +1 503 6159400

Keywords: GaAs, communications, radar, cell phones, satellite, WiFi, WiMax

ABSTRACT

The year 2006 will be remembered as a transition year for the compound semiconductor industry. This was the first year in many where worldwide GaAs supply and demand came back into balance. The long awaited commercialization of third generation data handsets (3G) has solidified GaAs as a critical technology. Additionally, GaN development efforts have demonstrated success for important performance and reliability milestones in 2006.

 

Cellular phones, at one billion units sold per year, remain the highest unit volume consumer electronics device on the planet. Voice remains the killer application but the promise of 3G, untethered broadband data access, has moved into production and GaAs is the enabling RF technology. Even as 3G units are just now reaching volume, the convergence of WiFi and WiMAX, LTE and UMB is on the horizon with next generation performance – lower cost and greater data rates.

 

A clear trend is underway. Value is moving back into the compound semiconductor space. This industry suffered through an extended period between 2000 and 2005 where commoditization and over supply drained value and limited investment. The promise of ubiquitous wireless access remains a compelling vision and as standards and chipsets evolve, the compound semiconductor industry stands ready to reap the harvest of growing demand.

 

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