The two companies have announced an agreement whereby ST licenses Macom’s technology for GaN-on-Si RF power products. This expands Macom’s supply base while also giving ST the right to manufacture and sell its own GaN-on-silicon products in RF markets outside of mobile phone, wireless basestation and related commercial telecom infrastructure applications, the companies said.
The two companies have been working together for several years to bring GaN-on-Si into production in ST’s CMOS wafer fab. Sample production is expected to start in 2018.
Macom said access to GaN-on-Si from ST would provide improved cost structure and allow the technology to displace incumbent silicon LDMOS devices. The is likely to find use in 4G/LTE and massive MIMO 5G antennas.
Next: More thoughts from Macom
“This agreement punctuates our long journey of leading the RF industry’s conversion to GaN on silicon technology. To date, MACOM has refined and proven the merits of GaN on silicon using rather modest compound semiconductor factories, replicating and even exceeding the RF performance and reliability of expensive GaN-on-SiC alternative technology,” said John Croteau, CEO of MACOM, in a statement. “We expect this collaboration with ST to bring those GaN innovations to bear in a silicon supply chain that can ultimately service the most demanding customers and applications.”
Marco Monti, president of the automotive and discrete products group at ST, said: “While expanding the opportunities for existing RF applications is appealing, we’re even more excited about using GaN on silicon in new RF energy applications, especially in automotive applications, such as plasma ignition for more efficient combustion in conventional engines, and in RF lighting applications, for more efficient and longer-lasting lighting systems.”
Eric Higham, director of the advanced semiconductor applications service at consultancy Strategy Analytics, commented: “Potential RF energy device shipments could be in the hundreds of millions for applications including commercial microwave cooking, automotive lighting and ignition, and plasma lighting, with sales reaching into the billions of dollars.”
Related links and articles: