SPTS Technologies Ltd of Newport, Wales, UK (an Orbotech company that manufactures etch, PVD and CVD wafer processing solutions for the MEMS, advanced packaging, LED, high-speed RF on GaAs, and power management device markets) has received about $37m in etch and deposition system orders from two gallium arsenide foundry customers. For delivery in first-quarter and second-quarter 2018, the Omega plasma etch, Delta PECVD and Sigma PVD systems will be used to manufacture radio-frequency devices for 4G and emerging 5G wireless infrastructure and mobile device markets.
“RF devices are entering another exciting phase of growth with the proliferation of 4G mobile communications and preparation for 5G,” says Kevin Crofton, corporate executive VP at Orbotech and president of SPTS Technologies. “IDMs and foundries are looking to add capacity to existing fabs to meet the growing demand, while new entrants are establishing new lines to address future demand for the 5G rollout. Our lead customer has been at the forefront of GaAs foundry services for almost two decades, and their repeat orders are a testament to the production advantages that our etch and deposition solutions continue to deliver to their core business.”
Since power amplifiers (PAs) are among the most critical RF components in mobile communications, and virtually all PAs in a modern smartphone are made from circuits built on GaAs semiconductors, analysts are predicting that the growth of 4G communications, gigabit LTE (Long Term Evolution) and emerging 5G will be the growth engine to drive the RF GaAs device market from $8.1bn in 2017 to over $9bn by 2021 (‘RF GaAs Device Forecast and Outlook: 2016 – 2021’, Strategy Analytics, October 2017).
“Our latest forecast shows that PAs for cellular applications will continue to account for more than half of the RF GaAs device market,” comments Eric Higham, director of the Advanced Semiconductor Applications service at Strategy Analytics. “Despite smartphone growth slowing, the added complexity in mobile devices to support gigabit LTE and the emergence of 5G points to continuing growth in RF GaAs production.”