Qorvo recently announced that new high-performance SOI components are landing major wins at cellular base station manufacturers. (Read the press release here.) Ideal for broadband communications systems, the highly integrated components significantly reduce external components while lowering cost, power consumption, and weight in wireless infrastructure, test and measurement, and defense and aerospace applications. (Qorvo was formed following the merger of RFMD and TriQuint.)
“These new SOI components feature the broadband performance our customers expect from Qorvo’s products,” said Sumit Tomar, general manager of Qorvo’s Wireless Infrastructure business unit. “With exceptional linearity, robust power handling, and no external components, this portfolio is already in demand, even in the sampling stage.”
SOI wafer leader Soitec and SITRI (aka Shanghai Industrial µTechnology Research Institute) have announced a collaboration agreement. (Read the press release here.) They say the strategic partnership will strengthen their leadership in high-growth wireless communications and the global market for RF apps, with a special emphasis on the fast-developing Chinese RF ecosystem.
They’ll focus on developing RF-SOI using advanced circuit designs based on Soitec’s substrate materials and technologies.
“Experience shows that Soitec’s engineered substrates can optimize RF-SOI technology and applications in terms of both cost competitiveness and power efficiency. This strategic partnership will enable us to push the limits of RF circuits and meet future connectivity needs,” said Soitec CTO Carlos Mazure.
“Enhancing RF signal integrity is a key focus of the mobile communications industry as it builds toward 4G-LTE Advanced and 5G standards. We are excited to partner with Soitec in developing next-generation SOI communication solutions. It is consistent with SITRI’s mission to create a collaborative R&D and commercialization environment to catalyze the growth of advanced technologies,” said Dr. Charles Yang, president of SITRI.
A recent GlobalFoundries blog entitled RF-SOI is IoT’s Future, and the Future is Bright (read it here) says, “RF SOI is a win-win technology option that can improve performance and data speed in smartphones and tablets, and it is expected to play a key role in the Internet of Things applications as well.”
The blog touches on the full range of benefits of RF-SOI for front-end integration, resulting in, “… longer battery life, less dropped calls and higher data speeds.” It then goes on to cite complementary advantages of FD-SOI. Peter Rabbeni, GlobalFoundries director of RF Segment Marketing, notes that in FD-SOI, “dynamic control of Vdd and the use of well-bias techniques can not only help reduce overall power consumption but can be used as a means to optimize RF circuit operation. This is not something that can be easily done in bulk technologies.”
RF-SOI will play a key role in the IoT plans of analog and mixed-signal specialist MagnaChip (read the press release here). The company has launched a task force to address IoT. The statement says, “MagnaChip also offers 0.18 micron and plans to offer 0.13 micron Silicon on Insulator (SOI) RF-CMOS technologies, which is suitable for use in antenna switching, tuner and Power Amplifier (PA) applications. Switches and tuners are core components of wireless Front-End-Modules (FEMs) for cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity in IoT devices. MagnaChip’s CMOS based FEMs reduce manufacturing cost and time to market while providing competitive performance for multiband and multimode smartphones, tablets and other IoT devices.”
Commenting on the IoT opportunity, YJ Kim, MagnaChip’s interim Chief Executive Officer, said, “We believe there is tremendous growth opportunity in the IoT market and our participation is part of our overall strategy to broaden our product portfolio in new markets. MagnaChip’s IoT task force and business consortium with key business partners will reinforce our position as a key manufacturing service provider in the expanding IoT market.”
Hua Hong Semiconductor of Shanghai (a pure-play 200mm foundry operated by HHGrace Semi) recently launched a 0.2μm RF-SOI process design kit (PDK) (click here to read the full press release). The 0.2μm RF-SOI technology platform has been successfully validated and is ready for customers product design and development, says the company. It is tailored and optimized for wireless RF front-end switch applications. The new PDK solution is developed from Cadence’ IC5141 EDA software, and integrates RF modeling and simulation platform such as PSP SOI and BSIM SOI. The company notes that the 0.2μm RF-SOI PDK offering provides convenience to designers who focus on optimizing both the RF performance and die size, while greatly shortening time-to-market.
Dr. Weiran Kong, Executive Vice President of Hua Hong Semiconductor said, “With the booming of mobile Internet and intelligent terminals in recent years, there are more and more applications of consumer electronics with the use of RF SOI design. 0.2μm RF-SOI technology is one of our focuses. With this new offering, we will actively help our customers to capture market opportunities. The technology is ideal for RF switch designs such as smartphones and connected devices of Internet of Things. Through adding 0.2μm RF SOI technology solution into our RF portfolio, we are able to provide customers with comprehensive, cost effective and high performance RF solutions, which also include RF CMOS, SiGe BiCMOS and embedded Flash technology with RF PDK.”
The Group currently has one of the largest 200mm wafer processing capacities in China through its three fabs in Shanghai, with an approximate total 200mm wafer manufacturing capacity of 129,000 wafers per month as of September 30, 2014.
SOI wafer leader Soitec was awarded the Best Partnership Award by Sony Semiconductor. Soitec earned the recognition for outstanding support that has contributed to Sony’s success in the RF semiconductor market.
Soitec’s high-resistivity silicon-on-insulator (HR-SOI) wafers have long been a favorite of RF designers for 2G and 3G switches. But the company’s latest eSi substrates has taken off like wildfire, and are now used by all the major companies that make RF chips for smart phones. The eSI wafers enable much higher linearity and isolation, helping designers to address some of the most advanced LTE requirements at competitive costs. You can read more about the technical details of the wafers and how they were developed here and how they solve key challenges here.
“We are very honored to receive this award from Sony recognizing the long partnership between our companies,” said Bernard Aspar, senior vice president and general manager of Soitec’s Communication & Power Business Unit. “It demonstrates Soitec’s commitment to deliver the enabling substrates that support Sony’s RF devices business.”