Industry News

Massive Global Commercial Market for Sub-5 GHz Silicon RFICs

According to a new report recently released by Engalco, the merchant market for silicon-based RFICs is set to grow rapidly from a global total of around $12 B in 2006 to exceed $29 B by 2014. “The RFIC Report” focuses on the following commercial applications: Active RFID, Bluetooth, cell phones (handsets), SATNAV and WiMAX.

All of these end-user applications are considered to be high-volume and forecasts of shipments are included in the report. Silicon-based RFICs in this context are mainly transceiver RFICs built using CMOS or BiCMOS processes and operating at frequencies up to around 5 GHz. In the case of SATNAV, however, the RFICs are receive-only. Also, both active RFID and Bluetooth require only relatively low-power transmitters and this factor reduces the chip selling prices. Some of the chips use SiGe semiconductor.

The leading market segment is currently RFICs into cell phones (worth about $11 B annually on a global basis) and this segment retains its lead until 2013, when active RFIDs are expected to overtake them. The global market for RFIDs start fairly modestly at $200 M in 2006, but rise rapidly to reach almost $28 B in 2014. It is widely expected that active RFIDs will be found in a very wide variety of applications—and then in huge volumes—during the next six years. For Bluetooth, RFIC applications markets are relatively modest but, again, rapid growth is forecasted, especially in the case of WiMAX.

Markets for RFICs are always by far the largest in the catchall region known as the “Rest of the World” (RoW), which includes China, India, Japan and Korea. Already, most commercial systems are assembled and manufactured in these countries (particularly China), and “The RFIC Report” anticipates this situation will prevail in the future. The RoW markets occupy 78 to 79 percent of the global total. In this report, average selling prices (ASP) and shipments are provided in most instances—again with forecasts to 2014. A total of 74 RFIC manufacturing (or “fabless”) companies are identified and 32 of these are profiled in depth. The players that have fabless operations are identified and the entire industry structure is critiqued in detail, including worldwide sales operations.

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