Silicon BiCMOS: The Optimal Technology for RF Power

The debate over GaAs versus CMOS has been reinvigorated by recent industry events. This includes the sale of CMOS cellular power amplifier (PA) house Axiom Microdevices to GaAs cellular PA manufacturer Skyworks as well as the emergence from “stealth mode” of CMOS cellular PA startups Black Sand Technologies and Javelin Semiconductor. In terms of market share, since TRW Semiconductor paired with RF Micro Devices in the mid-­‐ to-­‐late 1990s, the GaAs heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) has been the standard bearer for mobile phone PA performance, cost, and manufacturability. GaAs houses that design, manufacture and package their own PAs and other RF components dominate today’s cellular power amplifier market.

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