As a first step, MACOM announced a license and epitaxial (epi) wafer supply agreement which will enable IQE, the world’s largest supplier of compound semiconductor epi, to manufacture GaN-on-Silicon epi at 4, 6 and 8-inch diameters in high volume for RF applications. This move is expected to allow MACOM to deliver GaN RF products with breakthrough bandwidth and efficiency at mainstream 8-inch silicon cost structures.
Further, MACOM announced that it is in active discussions to make GaN-on-Silicon technology available to select companies for use in RF applications. The company believes that establishing such large diameter wafer manufacturing sources will be a key factor in driving mainstream, commercial adoption of GaN technology. Surety of supply is of critical importance in power amplifier dependent markets such as cellular basestations. According to Strategy Analytics, power amplifier transistor revenue from base stations will grow to more than $1 billion in 2014.
“We are nearing a watershed moment for the RF & Microwave industry, promising breakthrough performance for compound semiconductors and leveraging large-scale silicon production facilities that operate at orders of magnitude greater economies of scale,” said John Croteau, President and CEO, MACOM. “We believe our recent acquisition of Nitronex and its portfolio of fundamental IP rights related to GaN-on-Silicon materials, process, and device technology for RF applications provides us with the foundation for a licensing program that will help bring our vision of GaN performance at mainstream 8-inch silicon cost structures a reality.”
As the world’s top supplier of compound semiconductor epi, IQE today supplies over 50% of the world’s RF epitaxial wafers. IQE possesses the largest independent manufacturing capacity of compound semiconductor epi worldwide, and as a result, is able to achieve enhanced economies of scale, helping to build wafer capacity and cost structure needed to grow the GaN market.
“We are beginning to see very significant traction for GaN occurring in the compound semiconductor industry, across a wide range of applications” said