Powering the Radar Market and Beyond
MWJ: Prior to starting the company, did you feel the market for RF power transistors was being underserved or that you and your colleagues could provide a better solution? If so, how?
Titizian: The market needed a better S-band chip, but the industry was not developing it due to financial constraints. We felt we could outsource chip development, took a chance and succeeded.
MWJ: Was it hard to win customers from bigger, established companies at first?
Titizian: We had a good rapport with OEMs, so it was not difficult to approach decision makers. The key though was better device performance.
MWJ: What were some of your early successes?
Titizian: Raytheon Canada trusted us and gave us a $1 M order when we were operating in 1000 sqft office with only seven people. ITT-G followed with a $250 K order. We are grateful to both companies for putting Integra on the map.
MWJ: I understand the company began as a fabless design house (producing die in Silicon Valley and Asia), but eventually developed its own wafer fabrication process. What factors made you realize the need for your own captive wafer fabrication and what advantages do you enjoy by having such capabilities?
Titizian: The outsourcing factories we utilized were unable to provide consistent quality of product. We bit the bullet and built a fab from ground zero. That was a drastic and costly diversion from our business plan, which our investors agreed to undertake and now we are all glad we did it.
MWJ: Do you have unique device processes in place that give your devices an advantage? If so, what have you been able to achieve as far as improved performance?
Titizian: We developed better chip combining technology, which we subsequently received a patent for. We also understood the key electrical parameters that make a good RF bipolar power chip and we brought world-class equipment/processes to achieve the performance and quality we sought.
MWJ: Pre-matched devices are a big selling point for some of your devices. Is device matching something that happens on the die or at the package level? Are there specific advantages doing it one way over the other?
Titizian: Device matching can’t be done with high power chips built on Si since the latter does not have good isolation characteristics. We offer partially matched (1-2 Ohm) discrete transistors as well as 50 Ohm pallets. Chip level matching is doable and is being done with GaN/SiC by some manufacturers, but only for phased array applications where cost is less of an issue.
MWJ: What specific applications are most attractive to Integra and why?
Titizian: We are primarily focused on radars. Since 9/11 many countries seem to be concerned about security in their airspace and are building or purchasing radar equipment. We are also introducing products for avionics systems such as JTIDS, Mode S, IFF, DME and TACAN.
MWJ: What device features seem to be most important to this market segment?
Titizian: For radar, two parameters are important: Power, to be able to reduce equipment size; and efficiency, to improve reliability and, in today’s terminology, be “green”. With the advance of GaN technology, bandwidth has also been an important factor, a parameter that can give system designers advantages. For avionics systems on the other hand, linearity offered by LDMOS devices is preferable over BJT technology.
MWJ: You have an array of products targeting S- and L-band pulsed radar applications and avionics. What new markets are you exploring?
Titizian: Avionics is our new target, but we are also addressing C- and X-band markets, which have not converted to solid state devices yet.
MWJ: The company started making Silicon Bipolar device in silicon and has moved to LDMOS and GaN devices. How has the commercialization of GaN been working out for you? Where does GaN stand today as a product and what do you see for its future?
Titizian: Our LDMOS development effort started in 2006 and has been paying good dividends. Unlike commercial applications, device qualification cycle in our industry is quite long. On GaN, we are still in the early stages of introducing products, but are making good progress. We are fortunate that we have a solid and growing Si business base to rely on for funding such development.
MWJ: How do you target applications to go after and what are typical product-to-market lead times?
Titizian: We target applications that have a program life of at least 10 years, are lucrative and not to likely to be pursued by larger manufacturers who are focused on commercial applications. We are a niche supplier that excels in device performance and application support. Product to market lead time could be 3 - 18 months depending on complexity level.