In the last few years, NXP has made a conscious decision to focus on the high performance mixed-signal business and has expanded internationally to reach different market sectors for various applications. In the US, they have centers in North Carolina, Rhode Island and now Massachusetts, where the company just announced the opening of a new center in Billerica. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit NXP's grand opening and see in person the various technologies the company is bringing to the market.

The new center will focus on the design of RF and microwave integrated circuits used in demanding applications such as defense & aerospace, Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) satellite receivers and broadband communications. They will be leveraging NXP’s unique IP, product portfolio, processes and manufacturing capabilities. With its East Coast location, and the company's design teams in France and the Netherlands, the center will also strengthen the technical and application support provided to the company’s Americas-based customers. Below is a series of video demonstrations we shot at the design center displaying products such as LDMOS amplifiers, high speed converters, medium power amplifiers and more.

NXP’s RF portfolio spans high-power LDMOS for power amplifiers to SiGe:C BiCMOS for RF/IF MMICs. Additionally, advanced CMOS process for high-speed converters completes the RF front-end. As all these technologies are designed and manufactured in-house, they are custom-tuned to application-specific requirements. NXP has its own 8-inch fab in the Netherlands and another in Singapore through its joint venture with TSMC, giving them a large capacity to produce Si-based products. The company recently announced that it will offer a total of more than 50 products based on SiGe:C by end of 2010. NXP also plans to develop GaN products through a partnership with UMS. This relates to our June cover story about Si- and GaN-based products invading traditional GaAs device territory with competing products.

A new area of work at NXP includes RF light emitting plasma lighting. In this application, an LDMOS power amplifier is used to generate a signal that is guided into an electric field about the bulb. The high concentration of energy in the electric field vaporizes the contents of the bulb to a plasma state at the bulb’s center; this controlled plasma generates an intense source of light that is very efficient and bright. It mainly has applications in industrial and street lighting applications where it provides better efficiency and broader spectrum of colors than competing HID lighting.

It appears that NXP is well positioned to be successful in many RF markets and we look forward to following their progress. We are lucky to reside in the Boston area where we have local access to many leading RF and microwave companies, including NXP, Skyworks, RFMD, M/A-COM Technology Solutions, Harris, Cobham Defense, Rogers, Aeroflex Metelics, Hittite and more.