The highly promoted RF PA devices from Qualcomm are starting to hit production phones, according to ABI Research. The first phone built with the Qualcomm PAs utilizes both the QFE2320 (for low-band) and QFE2340 (for high-band) multi-mode/multi-band (MMMB) PAs. These devices, along with the other front end components, are new offerings for Qualcomm which has shied away from the PA area up until now. Qualcomm introduced some expected developments including the first CMOS MMMB PA in mass-production and the first CMOS integrated PA/Switch in mass-production. However there was one big surprise.

“The unannounced characteristic, which is also an industry first, is not so much something that is there, but something that is not: the QFE2340 does not have a package.  The PA is directly attached to the PCB—a technique that is common in the power management and connectivity realms but thus far has eluded the PA offerings in the industry,” comments Jim Mielke, VP of engineering at ABI Research.

The ~3 x 2mm QFE2340 has a number of good merits but traditional PA providers (TriQuint, RFMD, and Skyworks) have been continuously improving their offerings too.  Their product lines include MMMB PAs that support both high-band and low-band in a single package; with performance enhancements GaAs still offers over CMOS in high-power modes.

These findings are part of ABI Research’s Teardowns Market Research.