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RF Micro Devices 6in Gallium Arsenide, United States of America




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RF Micro Devices has successfully qualified devices from its 6in wafer fab at the company's headquarter campus in Greensboro, NC, USA. RFMD is converting from 4in to 6in wafer manufacturing for Gallium Arsenide heterojunction bipolar transistors (GaAs HBTs). The company expects the conversion will more than double the number of die per wafer without significantly increasing the processing cost per wafer.

The company has two GaAs HBT fabs on the site. The first is running at optimal capacity, which is approx. 85% to 90% of total capacity or approx. 60,000 to 70,000 wafers per year, while the second (now being converted to 6in wafers) is expected to produce the equivalent of about 210,000 4in wafers per year. The new fab has 5,000m² of convertible clean room space, of which approximately 3,000m² has been converted. It incorporates dry etch, wet etch, photolithography, ion implantation, metal deposition, dielectric deposition and wafer thinning.

INCREASING DEMAND FOR RF MODULES

RF Micro Devices supplies radio frequency integrated circuits (RFICs) including amplifiers, mixers, modulators/demodulators and single-chip receivers, transmitters and transceivers. These are aimed at wireless communications applications like cellular and PCS phones, base stations, WLANs, Bluetooth® wireless technology, satellite radio and GPS.

GaAs HBT semiconductors work at higher frequencies and with better power efficiency than conventional silicon-based semiconductors. This makes them ideal for high-frequency wireless communications applications like power amplifiers for wireless phones. These are amongst the most critical components in the radio section of handsets and amplify the handset's signal through its antenna back to the base station.

RF Micro Devices commercialized the first GaAs HBT PAs for cell phones and these now dominate the cellular/PCS handset market. As the demand for modules increases and as they become more highly integrated, the company expects to see a growing percentage of its products' bill of materials (BOM) to go towards GaAs HBTs and power amplifier modules.

STANDARD AND CUSTOM WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS PRODUCTS

RF Micro Devices has a range of standard- and custom-designed products for cellular, wireless LAN, Bluetooth, GPS, infrastructure and satellite radio. The new facility will be producing amplifiers like gain blocks and PowerStar™ PA modules.

The RF337X gain block series (RF3374, RF3375, RF3376, RF3377, RF3378) and RF3315 high linearity amplifier are reliable, low-cost RF amplifiers for wireless infrastructure applications. All devices are assembled in a thermally stable industry standard SOT-89 package.

RFMD's PowerStar™ PA modules have integrated power control to eliminate directional couplers, detector diodes, power control ASICs and other power control circuits. The modules use RFMD's collector control method of power control. Unlike methods like current sensing and power detect, collector control requires no external components and reduces variation across temperature, frequency and voltage. The family includes the first-generation triple-band RF3110, the second-generation quad-band RF3133 and quad-band RF3140 and the third-generation quad-band RF3146 with Lead Frame Module packaging technology.

COMPLETE CHIPSETS FOR WIRELESS HANDSETS AND LANs

In addition to GaAs HBT, the company specializes in GaAs MESFET, GaAs pHEMT, Si Bipolar, Si CMOS, Si BiCMOS, SiGe BiCMOS, InGaP HBT and GaN. The company's Optimum Technology Matching® (OTM) strategy can be used by RFMD engineers to match the appropriate process technology and device technology to ensure the best price and performance for each product.

RF Micro Devices provides customers with power amplifier modules and complete chipset solutions for wireless handsets. In addition, RFMD's product capabilities include WLAN solutions for all standards, single-chip CMOS solutions for Bluetooth applications, and chipsets for GPS and satellite radio products. RFMD also offers solutions for wireless infrastructure applications. RFMD's wide product range helps support the trend toward convergence, in which cellular, Bluetooth wireless technology, GPS, WLAN and satellite radio are forecast to coexist in wireless handheld devices.

HIGH-PERFORMANCE SOLUTIONS FOR MULTIPLE WIRELESS MARKETS

RF Micro Devices was formed in 1991 in Greensboro, North Carolina, and since then has evolved from a provider of discrete components for handsets into a major supplier of high-performance, low-cost solutions for multiple wireless markets.

In September 2002, RF Micro Devices and Jazz Semiconductor announced a strategic relationship for silicon manufacturing and development. RFMD will collaborate with Jazz on the development of wireless technology roadmaps.