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RF MEMS switch market to balloon in five years

Posted: 26 Nov 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:RF MEMS switches? forecast? switched capacitors? DC switches?

RF MEMS switches will be in much greater demand over the next years, according to Wicht Technologie Consulting (WTC). The lion's share of the devices produced will go into test equipment for the semiconductor industry, followed by mobile phones and telecommunications infrastructure.

WTC sees the market explode: While in 2006, the total market volume amounted to $5 million globally, the volume will grow to $210 million within only five years. "What happened after the year 2000, when the mobile phone market began, perfectly fits in the well-known 'hype curve of new technologies,'" explained Jrmie Bouchaud, head of market research at WTC. "After passing through the 'peak of inflated expectations' in 2003 and then through the 'trough of disillusionment' during 2004-2005, RF MEMS switches have now reached the 'slope of enlightenment.'" Bouchaud assesses this as an indicator that both industry and technology are maturing.

According to the market researcher, NXP Semiconductors and RF Micro Devices Inc. are preparing to mass produce antenna and reconfigurable power amplifiers for cellphones. WTC estimates that presently about 50,000 switches are shipped monthly. The number of devices already shipped is estimated at 500,000 to 600,000. NXP is already in the 'industrialization phase' of switched capacitors for cellphones and focuses its efforts on processes and manufacturability. Serial production of DC switches has begun in foundries such as IMT and APM, Bouchaud said.

After test and instrumentation applications and telecom, WTC sees aerospace and defense to emerge as the third major market for RF MEMS switches. The market researchers also investigated automotive applications, e.g. for radar and antennas, but presently they do not see opportunities in this market.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
EE Times

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