TELECOMS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Another Fraunhofer site, the Heinrich-Hertz-Institut (HHI) near Berlin, launched F5G OpenLab at MWC in Barcelona in March. F5G OpenLab is a test and experimentation facility aimed at making data communications more sustainable by promoting optical fiber-based fifth generation fixed networks and advancing the validation of technologies defined by ETSI. Fraunhofer HHI is also involved in 6G research, including how 6G services can improve healthcare by providing functions like telehealth monitoring, robotics, augmented reality and responsive exoskeletons.
Last year, Fraunhofer HHI instituted a real-time-capable communication infrastructure for testing industrial applications in one of the first operational 5G standalone campus networks in Germany. It is intended to be a test environment for future edge cloud applications in Industry 4.0. Research teams will also use the infrastructure to develop network technologies enabling 6G and a future open 5G/6G ecosystem.
Germany also has a significant presence in the mobile infrastructure OEM market. Although headquartered in Finland, Nokia Networks was formed in 2006 as a joint venture between Nokia and Germany’s Siemens. It originally traded as Nokia Siemens Networks before shortening to its current name when Nokia bought out the Siemens stake in 2013. It subsequently acquired another European rival, Alcatel-Lucent, in 2015.
Nokia retains the large former Siemens telecoms site in Munich. The Nokia Digitalization & Technology hub there has employees belonging to almost all the Nokia business units, including a team of scientists and experts from Bell Labs. The main research activities at Bell Labs Munich center on 6G mobile networks, security, data analytics and network architectures, with close collaboration with the local Nokia Standards team that is working on leading-edge network technologies and systems research.
In June 2023, the European Commission approved a new Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) to “support research, innovation and the first industrial deployment of microelectronics and communication technologies across the value chain.” This latest €8.1 billion project, called IPCEI ME/CT, follows from the original IPCEI, set up to support research and innovation in microelectronics and approved by the Commission in December 2018. Germany is a major participant in both projects, along with 13 other EU member states.
The IPCEI ME/CT projects aim at creating innovative microelectronics and communication solutions and energy-efficient manufacturing methods to enable digital and green transformation. They address several sectors, including 5G and 6G communications, autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and quantum computing. The new IPCEI involves 68 projects from 56 companies, closely cooperating through more than 180 envisaged cross-border collaborations.
Unique in Europe, Germany is exceptionally strong in semiconductor manufacturing. Germany’s automotive industry was badly affected by the chip shortage of the past two years and securing the supply chain is of national importance.
Global Foundries has its Fab 1 in Dresden, Saxony, which was its first chip foundry after spinning out of AMD in 2008. It is now just one of a growing cluster of large-scale fabs in the Dresden area.
Bosch is a major supplier of chips to the automotive industry with semiconductor fabs in Reutlingen and Dresden, with Dresden shown in Figure 5, opening in June 2021. Products planned for the €1 billion Dresden fab include systems-on-a-chip for 360-degree radar sensors for automated driving. Both the Bosch Dresden fab and the latest upgrades to the Reutlingen fab are being supported by funds from the IPCEI.
Three of X-Fab’s six fabs are in Germany. Erfurt, in the central state of Thuringia, manufactures digital as well as RF and analog ICs on its 12-in. 1.0 μm, 0.8 μm and 0.6 μm CMOS mixed-signal processes. Dresden has a 350 nm analog/mixed-signal CMOS process (XH035) running on 8-in. wafers alongside earlier generation standard and customer-specific mixed-signal CMOS processes and an RF-MEMS foundry making variable capacity RF switches is located in Itzehoe, near Hamburg.
Franco-German collaboration UMS, originally formed in 1996 as a collaboration between DASA and Thales of France, has a site in Ulm that houses GaAs and GaN technology development and production. In June, UMS launched its CHA6262-99F, a three-stage GaN PA operating in the 17.3 to 21.5 GHz range with 4 W typical output power and 36 percent PAE, designed for space applications and a range of other microwave systems.
NEW SEMICONDUCTOR INVESTMENTS
Taiwanese semiconductor giant TSMC is in advanced negotiations to build a new fab in Dresden, which is expected to cost up to €10 billion ($10.7 billion).6 TSMC has been attracted by assistance available under the EU Chips Act, under which Europe plans to spend €43 billion ($46.07 billion) to subsidize a doubling in chipmaking capacity by 2030. Also in Dresden, Infineon has approval7 to begin building a €5 billion semiconductor plant scheduled to start production in 2026, which the company says would be the largest single investment in its history and would create around 1,000 jobs.
On the western side of Germany, Wolfspeed is reportedly planning a €3 billion SiC plant in Saarland8 mainly for use in electric vehicles, making this the biggest SiC production facility in the world. Meanwhile, Intel is spending more than €30 billion to develop two fabs in Magdeburg, central Germany, for which it will receive €10 billion of subsidies from Germany, creating 3,000 jobs at the company as well as tens of thousands more jobs with suppliers and partners.9
COMPONENTS AND SOFTWARE ROUNDUP
Other German vendors exhibiting at EuMW 2023 include:
AFT Microwave, based in Backnang, specializes in custom ferrite-based microwave components such as circulators, insulators and loads, ferrite material, thin film circuits and passive components and subsystems.
AXTAL GmbH, a German manufacturer of low phase noise frequency control products was founded 20 years ago and acquired at the start of this year by Q-Tech Corporation, a U.S.-based supplier of high-reliability crystal oscillators. The combined product portfolios offer a range of crystal oscillators including XO TCXO, MCXO and OCXO quartz oscillators, including crystal oscillators designed for space applications from LEO, MEO and GEO to deep space.
Becker Nachrichtentechnik GmbH in Asbach specializes in the development and manufacturing of modules, devices and systems including wideband amplifiers and signal distribution for broadcast, trunked radio, air traffic control and satellite navigation and air interface emulation for mobile and wireless networks up to 10 GHz.
Biconex GmbH in Radeberg offers metal-plated polymers for shielded housings, RF antennas, filters and other components requiring strong resistance to wear.
IMST GmbH is an engineering company and system house in Kamp-Lintfort, specializing in radio systems technology, chip design, antennas and EDA software for customer-specific developments. It also offers an accredited test laboratory for product approvals.
Kuhne Electronic GmbH is a manufacturer of power amplifiers (PAs), LNAs, signal sources and antennas for amateur radio.
KVG Quartz Crystal Technology GmbH is a manufacturer of crystal oscillators based in Neckarbischofsheim.
LPKF Laser & Electronics AG manufactures laser manufacturing and printed circuit board (PCB) prototyping solutions with headquarters in Hanover.
Mician GmbH in Bremen sells the μWave Wizard, a full wave 3D electromagnetic design automation suite for the development of passive microwave systems and components, including antennas.
Micro Systems Technologies is a group of companies, based mostly in Germany, with a range of LTCC substrate and packaging technologies, PCBs and hermetic feedthroughs.
Rosenberger Hochfrequenztechnik GmbH is the main company of the Rosenberger Group with its headquarters in Bavaria, Germany and other manufacturing locations around the world. It provides a range of standard and custom RF, high voltage and fiber optic connectivity products.
Siglent Technologies GmbH in Augsburg manufactures a range of test and measurement equipment, including waveform generators, spectrum analyzers, vector network analyzers, oscilloscopes and RF generators.
Silicon Radar GmbH, based in Frankfurt, develops standard and customer-specific MMICs for a wide range of radar applications, including a 24 GHz radar front-end. It has recently been acquired by Indie Semiconductor.
SPINNER GmbH is headquartered in Munich, with a 75-year history of making RF products. With manufacturing facilities around the world, its products include cables, connectors and rotary joints for applications such as communications, broadcast, measurement, satellite, space and radar.
Würth Elektronik Group, with its headquarters in Waldenburg, comprises companies in Germany and around the world that manufacture RF electromechanical components, PCBs and intelligent power and control systems.
Via Electronic GmbH in Hermsdorf manufactures high performance LTCC substrates.