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Epcos gains NXP's RF-MEMS unit

Posted: 02 May 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Epcos AG? acquired? RF MEMS? mobile communications?

Epcos AG has acquired the RF-MEMS unit of NXP Semiconductors in line with the company's strategy to transform itself from a manufacturer of discrete components into a systems provider. EPCOS President and CEO Gerhard Pegam adds that "By entering into the RF-MEMS business we are laying the foundation to benefit even more strongly from the growth dynamics of the mobile communications market in the future." The new MEMS business opens up additional market potential to the company in the high triple-digit million-euro range in the promising mobile communications market.

RF leader
Epcos is world market leader in RF filters. Its portfolio of RF products. comprise both discrete filters and integrated modules, also used for the transmit and receive circuits of mobile phones. RF-MEMS are capacitors whose capacitance values can be changed via a corresponding control circuit. As several such capacitors are used as a rule, their combination is known as a tunable matching network. With the RF-MEMS technology, Epcos opens up a new area of applications in the mobile phone market: RF-MEMS products are used between the transmit/ receive unit and the antenna and thus increase the company's share of value-added in this area.

The power consumption of mobile phones is increasing because they are being equipped with more and more functions and the phones must perform a growing number of tasks. These include telephony in various mobile phone standards such as UMTS and GSM as well as navigation, radio and TV reception, plus Internet access via wireless LAN. In addition, they must also offer camera, MP3 player and voice recorder functionality.

Cutting power use
The new RF-MEMS products together with RF filters and modules from EPCOS offer a solution for reducing power consumption in these phones.

The transmit/ receive unit and the antenna of today's mobile phones are optimized to a specific frequency band. However, when the telephone is operated in other bands, such as in the UMTS instead of the GSM bands, the transmit/ receive unit is no longer optimally tuned. As a result, the phone consumes an unnecessary amount of power, ultimately reducing operating and standby times. This can be prevented by the use of RF-MEMS. They allow the electrical path in the mobile phone between the antenna and transmit/ receive unit to be tuned precisely to the frequency band being used for signal transmission. Operating and standby times can then be significantly extended with unchanged battery capacity. The stability of the radio circuit is also noticeably enhanced.

Moreover, MEMS technology also offers attractive growth opportunities outside the RF sector, for instance in microphones as well as in pressure, acceleration and rotation-rate sensors.

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