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Industry News

Silicon-on-Sapphire Disrupts RF Switch Market

March 2, 2006
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In its latest Insight report, "Silicon-on-Sapphire Switches for Handsets: Stopgap or Disruptive Technology?," Strategy Analytics, the research and consulting company, evaluated CMOS silicon-on-sapphire (SoS) RF switches and found that SoS has begun to disrupt established approaches to transmit-receive (T/R) switching in multi-mode, multi-band cellular handsets.


Peregrine Semiconductor has shipped several million CMOS SoS RF switches to customers for GPRS handsets. Recently, the company released SP7T "HaRP" SoS RF switches for dual-mode W-CDMA handsets, claiming that these offer superior performance to GaAs p-HEMT switches.

"After evaluating this technology, we have concluded that Peregrine's SoS RF switches offer advantages that could displace GaAs in dual-mode WCDMA handsets," said Asif Anwar, director of the Strategy Analytics GaAs service. "However, GaAs vendors have already moved to address pHEMT switch shortcomings with improved performance. They have also developed switches with higher complexity not yet available in CMOS on SoS. These moves will limit the penetration of CMOS SoS in applications now served by pHEMT switches to a few design-wins at best."

"CMOS SoS will continue to have its greatest success in displacing p-i-n diodes in antenna switch modules," added Chris Taylor, director of the Strategy Analytics RF and Wireless Components (RFWC) service. "The multiple p-i-n diodes required for complex antenna switch modules (tri- and quad-band) draw significant current. Peregrine has already demonstrated the suitability of its technology for this application."

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