Thursday, April 7, 2011

Assessing Japanese Quake Impact on GaAs Industry

Strategy Analytics issued a report today that the impact of the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami, as well as the on-going issues with the nuclear reactors at Fukushima, are affecting the equipment and materials suppliers, consumer electronics companies, automotive, test and measurement companies in Japan. The Strategy Analytics' GaAs and Compound Semiconductor Technologies (GaAs) service report, “Japanese Quake Impact on the GaAs Industry,” contains a preliminary assessment of the impact of the tragedy on the global GaAs industry in Japan and throughout the world.

Strategy Analytics assessment of the situation indicates that there is no danger of immediate disruption to the supply of gallium and arsenide raw materials. The supply of SI (semi-insulating) bulk substrates will also be sustained. GaAs device manufacturing facilities were also largely unaffected. They state that the Japanese materials supplier were running at full capacity when the quake hit so if there was a surge in demand, shortages could result.

Japan is a leading player in the GaAs RF/microelectronics industry, accounting for 50 percent of bulk substrate supply, 18-20 percent of global SI GaAs epitaxial substrate production and up to one-fifth of the global GaAs device market. Japanese companies involved in the GaAs industry include Hitachi Cable, Renesas and Sumitomo Chemical.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

TI to Acquire National Semiconductor

TI announced late yesterday that it is acquiring National Semiconductor. The purchase was for $25 per share in an all-cash transaction of about $6.5 billion and creates a combined product portfolio of 42,000 products.

Here is a letter Templeton wrote to stakeholders:

I am excited to let you know that TI has signed a definitive agreement to purchase National Semiconductor, uniting two industry leaders that have a common commitment to solving your analog needs. I want to reinforce TI's commitment to you, our customer, as we merge our two companies.

This acquisition will allow us to address your analog needs with a product portfolio of unmatched breadth and depth. National's 12,000 products plus TI's 30,000 means more performance, power and packaging options when selecting the right ICs for your application. And we'll provide a common set of best-in-class online tools to make the selection and design process easier.

Our combined sales and applications team of 2,500 will be larger than any in the industry so we can provide more customers with greater face-to-face support than ever before.

Our manufacturing operations will offer more capacity to support your growth. TI's fabs and National's available capacity can enable higher production levels.

While both companies will operate independently pending the close, our goal thereafter is to make the integration process as seamless as possible. No requalification of products will be necessary since National's manufacturing sites will continue to be utilized. Part numbers from both companies will remain the same. There will be no obsolescence of products.

I'm excited about what the integration of our two companies will mean for you: an unmatched portfolio to meet your analog needs, an extensive sales and applications network to ease the design process, and manufacturing capacity to support your growth.

You can learn more about the acquisition at, including answers to frequently asked questions and video messages from TI leaders regarding the acquisition.

Thank you for choosing TI. I look forward to a great future together.

Best regards,

Rich Templeton Chairman, President and CEO Texas Instruments

Monday, April 4, 2011

Active Antenna Markets Projected to Exceed $2 B by 2016

ABI Research released a new report last week that looked interesting to me. They stated that the global market for antennas for wireless infrastructure, including base station, fixed and active types, is set to reach almost $2.0 billion in 2016. So-called “active” antennas are the hot segment of this market. Widespread installations of active antennas, which combine the base station’s RF electronics in the antenna housing mounted at the top of the tower, have only begun quite recently.

According to research director Lance Wilson, “Active antennas offer a solution to the problem of rapidly growing wireless data traffic. Conventional designs are not as efficient; active antennas offer much greater efficiency and versatility when handling large quantities of signals, including wireless data.” Apart from the “active” segment, the antenna market can be described as stable and mature. “Market growth is gradual and steady,” says Wilson. ”That, along with the huge size of the market (from a component or subassembly standpoint), is precisely part of its appeal for vendors.”

The antenna vendor ecosystem is slightly unusual in that there are multiple tiers and many participants. The bulk of these vendors are small companies that command only fractional percentages of the total available market (why is that?). ABI Research believes that some market consolidation is likely. The scenario for active antennas is a bit different, with antenna manufacturers normally partnering with equipment builders.

Will 4G provide much stimulus to the antenna market? “Some upside is present with LTE/4G,” says Wilson, “but this will be moderated by the eventual decline in the GSM family of technologies. With the exception of still-developing regions, GSM infrastructure is largely built-out already. 4G won’t replace the millions of existing GSM base stations with similar quantities.”

I think antenna hardware and technology are overlooked in the most wireless markets as one of the more vital components of the system. Antenna articles are one of the most submitted types of articles we receive at Microwave Journal but few antenna manufacturers advertise or seem to be active at shows with the exception of the Satellite show.