In conjunction with the 2019 Mobile World Congress (MWC19 Barcelona), MACOM Technology Solutions and STMicroelectronic (ST) announced ST will be adding production capacity for 150 mm RF GaN on Si wafers at its fab in Catania, Italy. The expansion, scheduled to complete this year, will position MACOM and ST to support the global 5G infrastructure buildout.

In the most recent earnings call, on 5 February, MACOM CFO Bob McMullan said MACOM will contribute “in the range of about $23 million” to support ST’s fab expansion. During a meeting with Microwave Journal at MWC19 Barcelona, MACOM said ST will be investing more than MACOM. When demand warrants, ST plans to expand wafer production to its Singapore fab and add 200 mm capacity, according to MACOM staff.

To establish a high volume and low cost supply chain for RF GaN on Si PAs, MACOM sought a silicon partner and announced the relationship with ST in January, 2018.

The global rollout of 5G networks and adoption of massive MIMO (mMIMO) antenna configurations will substantially increase the demand for RF power products. MACOM estimates a 32x to 64x increase in the number of power amplifiers (PA), which will more than triple the dollar content over five years of 5G infrastructure buildout. MACOM estimates the increased volume will reduce PA cost by 10x to 20x.

“Major base station OEMs understand they need wide bandgap GaN performance with transformational cost structures and manufacturing capacity to meet 5G antenna cost, range and energy efficiency targets in the field. By teaming with ST, we believe MACOM is uniquely poised to provide it all — performance, cost and high-volume supply chain. We anticipate that our joint investment at this early stage in bringing on more capacity positions us to service up to 85 percent of the global 5G network buildout.” — John Croteau, president and CEO of MACOM

“ST has built a strong foundation as a global leader in SiC, and we are now moving forward with RF GaN on Si, which will enable OEMs to build a new generation of high performance 5G networks. While SiC is ideal for certain power applications such as automotive power conversion, GaN on Si provides the necessary RF performance, scale and commercial cost structures to make 5G a reality. With this move, ST and MACOM aim to unlock the industry bottleneck and fulfill the demand for 5G buildouts.” — Marco Monti, president of the automotive and discrete product group of STMicroelectronics