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More apps to spur semiconductor growth

Posted: 16 Jan 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:semiconductor? IC? RF? wireless? DTV?

Consumer products, such as cellphones, portable media players, digital cameras, DTVs and digital STBs, are driving the growth of electronics in China and the rest of the world. RF/wireless is going to be in many new applicationsfrom baby monitors to industrial automation and automated meter reading. There is also high demand for low-power, high-capability devices that enable portable applications such as intelligent power switches, low noise regulators and DC/DC switching regulators.

Consumer electronics have been driving global semiconductor sales for the past few years. Hot products such as cellphones, VoIP, portable media players, HDTVs, STBs and other gadgets have brought about the convergence of voice, video and data, and will continue to do so in the future.

The need for triple play (voice, video and data), which demands high-speed broadband capability, is driving the adoption and deployment of fiber-to-the-home. Capable of data rates of 1-2.5Gbps, the passive optical network (PON) technology boasts a thousand times more bandwidth than DSL. Meanwhile, fiber-to-the-x (FTTx) PON will see continued growth worldwide over the next three to five years. FTTx will grow approximately 25 percent to 50 percent annually. China has just started deploying the FTTx technology, which is expected to boom in 2008-2010.

Opportunities abound for the PON architecture. Every optical-to-electrical conversion requires a fiber-optic module (FOM). China has several FOM OEMs and ODMs, including Fiberxon Inc. PON FOM solutions include post amplifiers, laser diode drivers and module-management ICs. The technological challenge for these parts is to operate with data that operates in bursts. Similar to the FOM challenge, Serdes must also operate in burst mode without losing bits. Serdes needs to operate in two frequency modes: 2.5Gbps downstream and 1.25Gbps upstream.

Data rates are increasing, and networking systems are eager to replace expensive parallel architectures with lower-cost, serial data architectures. This has in turn triggered demand for serial data throughput solutions.

- Ray Zinn
President and CEO, Micrel Inc.

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