In March 2019, Renesas acquired IDT, which was developing a differentiated portfolio of RF and timing products. How did the acquisition change IDT’s products, market presence and capabilities?
Renesas’ acquisition of IDT has delivered synergies at multiple levels. Beyond the greater scale afforded by the acquisition, the combined product portfolio has created more content in customer systems. In communication systems, for example, in addition to RF and timing, we are able to leverage the power management and MCU (microcontroller) capabilities of Renesas. These “winning combos,” as we like to call them, have increased our mutual capabilities and value proposition for customers.
Now, two years after the acquisition, what product families comprise your business?
We have traditionally been strong in small-signal RF products and silicon technologies. Over the past two years, we have added GaAs PHEMT-based LNAs with noise figures as low as 0.5 dB and a wide variety of GaAs HBT-based RF pre-drivers, by leveraging our “smart silicon” design techniques. Further, we are now sampling bias control PMICs (power management ICs) for power amplifiers.
For mmWave 5G, we now have the industry’s best-in-class RF performance with up to 16 dBm of linear output power and extensive innovative features, including our Dynamic Array Power (DAPTM) technology, which allows for graceful scaling of output power with efficiency.
We are also pushing the envelope on satcom beamformers capable of dual-beam performance with the lowest noise figure (1.6 dB at Ka-Band) and low power consumption.
Describe your business’s objectives and how they support Renesas’ goals. Where does RF fit in the strategy?
Wireless is a growing sector and RF front-end component demand is further fueled by 5G mMIMO and hybrid beamforming architectures. RF is a cornerstone of Renesas’ growth strategy and, through a combination of acquisitions and organic growth, Renesas has created a broad product portfolio that can be combined to build a compelling system solution for our customers.
How are your RF products differentiated in the market?
First, we understand the system. That enables us to delve into the issues limiting the system-level performance. Then we innovate at the component level to address these system issues. This approach allows us to continue bringing impactful differentiated products to the market.
As I recall, before the acquisition, IDT only designed in silicon. As you said, you have now released MMICs using GaAs. What semiconductor palette is available to your designers?
As Renesas, we have expanded our technology palette to GaAs PHEMT and HBT for LNAs and driver amplifers, GaN on SiC for mMIMO PAs and CMOS BCD technologies for our bias control PMICs. These are on top of the SiGe and RF-SOI technologies that we continue to use for various differentiated small-signal RF components such as DVGAs (digital variable gain amplifiers), gain blocks, switches and DSAs (digital stepped attenuators) among others. Renesas has the resource breadth and depth to pick the best technology for component development and layer in our innovation to achieve a compelling solution.
How does packaging support your product roadmap? Do you have the capability to push integration with highly integrated multi-chip modules?
This is an excellent point and another example of the greater scale and reach that Renesas provides. Integration both at the IC level and package level is an inevitable reality as systems become more compact, demand higher performance and lower cost. Renesas offers a wide packaging technology palette and access to extensive OSAT (outsourced semiconductor assembly and test) network, which allows us to venture into high performance multi-chip module products that open up bigger markets.
What markets look most attractive for fueling your growth?
Communications and 5G are two growing areas that we are focusing on. The broadband internet market based on LEOSAT constellations such as OneWeb are garnering a lot of interest. Our Ku- and Ka-Band beamformers with low power and low noise figure are ideally positioned to power the user terminal and other ground-based phased array antennas for this application. In terms of 5G, we continue to grow our technology lineup for sub-6 GHz FR1 mMIMO systems, and we are seeing good growth there. Our mmWave 5G portfolio of beamformers, up/down-converters and synthesizers are well set up to fuel our growth as the FR2 market picks up steam.
We’re seeing tremendous development in RFICs for mmWave applications, with several start-up companies focusing only on mmWave markets. What’s your view of these opportunities, and do you plan to expand your mmWave products?
The mmWave 5G market has been slow off the blocks, and the widespread deployment may be longer than initially anticipated. There are a lot of start-ups leveraging university relationships, which is a start. However, it takes a deeply experienced product development team supported by various central engineering functions like packaging, production test, qualification, product engineering, customer application support, etc. to deliver a quality product. And we remain committed to the market and to our customers, delivering high performance and cost-effective mmWave front-end solutions.
What’s the value proposition you hope customers and potential customers will see when they think of Renesas and your business’s products?
Renesas has a long history of developing and delivering circuit-level RF innovation to the market, combining deep silicon expertise and a broad portfolio of RF products with outstanding quality and service levels that empower customers to create their own differentiated systems for markets ranging from satellite communication to telecommunications.
On a personal note, tell us about the career path that led to your current role.
I come from a staunch engineering background with a Ph.D. and over 20 years’ experience in the field of RFIC design and system engineering. Start-ups aside, GM roles are normally filled with individuals from a business background. So, this current position of mine as the GM of the RF business is somewhat atypical, but I feel that my technical background coupled with my natural business acumen could make for an effective recipe for succeeding in this role.
What have you learned along the way that contributed to your success?
For this, I would like to mention a quote from one of my favorite authors, John C. Maxwell: “One is too small a number to achieve greatness. No accomplishment of real value has ever been achieved by a human being working alone.” It is the collective effort of the teams I’ve led over the years that I attribute to any and all success I have achieved through my career.