The biggest news this past week was the agreement on wireless standards between Nokia and Qualcomm. They are now going to work together and have settled all litigation between them:

Two interesting industry reports were released this week from Strategy Analytics of Boston. The first discusses the outlook for demand of point-to-point radio shipments, the other presented the five year outlook for the GaAs industry.

Strategy Analytics released a market report that predicts that point-to-point radio shipments will increase at a compound annual average growth rate (CAAGR) of 8 percent, to exceed 1.5 million units in 2012. Radio cellular backhaul will continue to be the primary market for point-to-point radios, with other applications, such as trunking, enterprise and public safety, making up the balance.

Cellular backhaul shipments will be driven by wireless network expansions as a function of cellular subscriber growth and replacement of existing links to accommodate the higher bandwidth requirements of next-generation networks, such as WiMAX and LTE. On a regional basis, locations with little wired infrastructure such as Asia-PAC, Middle East, Africa and other emerging markets will drive the bulk of demand.

This would seem to spell good news for GaAs integrated device manufacturers with demand being skewed towards MMIC solutions, with some limited demand for discrete devices as well. However, the report states that despite the increase in unit demand, ASP pressures will likely translate into an effectively flat market for GaAs devices over 2008 and 2009.

While Strategy Analytics believes that ASPs will hold up better than previously forecast, GaAs device manufacturers targeting this market, such as TriQuint and Avago Technologies in North America, Toshiba and Mitsubishi Electric in Japan and UMS in Europe, will need to optimize their supply relationships to maintain margins in this competitive market.

In its second report, Strategy Analytics states that the GaAs Industry Forecast 2007-2012, predicts that year-on-year growth in the GaAs industry will slow to 9 percent in 2008. However this study maintains previous guidance on long-term growth and the market will break the $5 B barrier in 2011. Overall, the GaAs device market will grow at a CAAGR (compound annual average growth rate) of 9 percent through 2012.

Demand from cellular handsets will continue to be the primary growth engine for the GaAs industry, with Wi-Fi the second largest market for GaAs. The corresponding market for GaAs (bulk and epitaxial) substrates will be worth $492 M in 2012, with demand for six-inch diameter material bolstered by an expected decline in four-inch material use.

“In line with previous analysis, wireless infrastructure, satellite and DBS markets will drive demand for GaAs discretes, though the overall market will show only a 1 percent CAAGR from 2007 to 2012,” observes Asif Anwar, director of the Strategy Analytics GaAs and Compound Semiconductor Technologies service. “Meanwhile, the market for digital GaAs ICs actually showed year-on-year growth for the first time in several years as a result of demand from the 10Gbps (gigabit per second) fiber-optic markets.”

The “GaAs Industry Forecast 2007-2012” is based on extensive supply-side and user-based research of the GaAs industry, and presents the Strategy Analytics analysis and forecast for the vertical GaAs market supply chain from bulk substrates through to epitaxial substrates to MMIC, discrete and digital ICs.

Bucking the expected decline in four-inch material use,AmpTech Inc.this week announced the availability of contract manufacturing foundry services at the company’s fabrication facility in Milpitas, CA. The company offers Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) and Indium Phosphide (InP) processes targeted for RFIC and Optoelectronics applications.

AmpTech operates a four inch wafer fabrication line in a 15,000 square foot clean room within the company’s headquarters facility. AmpTech has production-qualified processes for GaAs MESFETs (Metal Epitaxial Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors), and InGaP HBTs (Indium Gallium Phosphide Heterojunction Bipolar Transistors). The AmpTech MESFET process offers linear gain over 85 percent of the device operating range. The HBT process is characterized by breakdown voltages in excess of 25 V. In addition, process modules have been adapted to manufacture optical devices including GaAs and InP PIN photodetectors. The manufacturing line is fully operational and has shipped more than 1.5 million tested parts since initiating commercial production in the fourth quarter of 2007.

AmpTech provides front-end circuit design support, wafer processing, back-end characterization, RF and DC production testing, and die separation. The production line includes redundancy in all key equipment to ensure a smooth and predictable material flow, and we offer fast-turnaround options for prototyping.

First there was Budweiser and now there is M/A-Com (or at least the radar sensor business) representing another American-based company to be acquired by a European corporation. Autoliv, the world's biggest maker of air bags and seat belts, announced it has agreed to buy the automotive radar sensors business of Tyco Electronics for $42 M.

This part of the business unit designs and manufactures active radar proximity and attribute sensor systems used in vehicle driver assist and safety applications for the global automotive market. Based in Lowell, Massachusetts, US, and Schweinfurt, Germany, the business includes approximately 115 employees.

It is Autoliv's expectation that the sales of the acquired business will approach $100 M within three years. In 2009, Autoliv expects the business will have an accretive earnings per share effect and should be accretive to operating margin and return on capital in 2010. Autoliv said it expected the deal to close by the end of September.

In product news, Aeroflex announced the release of new software for the 3500 1 GHz handheld radio test set to support Survey Technologies Field Test 6 Software. Now, users of the 3500 series can improve and automate the acquisition, analysis and display of signal strength across a given terrain, as well as inside buildings.

Crystek Corp. has released its model CVS575S-500, a 500 MHz voltage-controlled SAW (surface acoustic wave) oscillator, or VCSO. SAW crystal technology provides low-noise and low-jitter performance with true sinewave output. Applications for the CVS575S-500 VCSO include frequency translation, test and measurement, avionics, point-to-point radios, and multi-point radios.

MIPS Technologies Inc., a provider of industry-standard architectures, processors and analog IP for digital consumer, home networking, wireless, communications and business applications, introduced a new generation of its Global Positioning System (GPS) RF Tuner IP solution. The silicon-proven, integrated low-noise RF front-end for GPS receivers in the L1 band enables embedded system designers to decrease costs and time-to-market for next-generation devices incorporating GPS.

Endwave Corp. announced the release of three new high-linearity broadband low noise amplifiers (LNA) that preserve signal purity by minimizing the nonlinear contributions. These amplifiers simultaneously achieve several high performance characteristics in a unique wideband design, and are available in three frequency bands of 0.5 to 2 GHz (JCA02-4000), 2 to 4 GHz (JCA24-4001) and 4 to 8 GHz (JCA48-4000). They feature noise figures of under 2 dB up through C-band, output P1dB levels of +24 dBm, and output IP3 headroom levels of 15 dB or greater above the output P1dB compression point. In addition, units deliver saturated output power levels approaching +27 dBm, have excellent I/O return loss of 11 dB min across the entire operating bandwidth, and provide signal gain of 35 dB or more. They deliver stable performance over a temperature range of -54° to +85°C and draw just 425 mA of current from a standard 12 V supply. With the addition of a low drop out voltage regulator, customers may run these components on as little as 8 V DC for lower power dissipation applications.

News items concerning contracts included an announcement from Comtech Telecommunications Corp. concerning its Maryland-based subsidiary, Comtech Mobile Datacom Corp., which received orders totaling $7.6 M under its Movement Tracking System, or MTS contract, with the US Army. Total orders received to date against the $605.1 M MTS IDIQ contract increased to $133.6 M.

The orders are for the supply of satellite network bandwidth, MTS systems which feature Comtech's Model MT-2012 mobile satellite transceivers integrated with both ruggedized and control station computers, installation kits, program management, engineering development and technical support services. Comtech's Model MT-2012 Transceiver features Savi Technology's ISO-compliant EchoPoint RFID Reader, as well as secure Global Positioning System (GPS) capabilities. The orders are in support of ongoing MTS program activities in the United States and abroad.

An update from Lincoln lab was released this week announcing the successful tests of a Satellite Communications system. The enhanced capabilities of a new global satellite communications (SATCOM) system were successfully tested recently by MIT Lincoln Laboratory, representing a major step forward in improving communications among US Department of Defense commands around the world.

In March, Lincoln Laboratory completed its portion of the on-orbit testing of the first Widespread Global Satellite Communications (WGS) system, a constellation of geosynchronous satellites orbiting 22,300 miles above the equator, which provides worldwide high-capacity military satellite communication capabilities. The WGS system improves upon the X-band capability (between 7 and 9 GHz) of the current Defense Satellite Communications system to include "Ka-band" service (30 GHz ground to satellite, 20 GHz satellite to ground).

These sophisticated new broadcast capabilities were tested in orbit by a ground-based Large Aperture Ka-band Test Terminal (LAKaTT), developed by Lincoln Laboratory. The terminal and its 20-foot antenna, which can transmit up to six carriers simultaneously, were created by the Lincoln Laboratory team out of a refurbished surplus satellite communications terminal. The heavily instrumented terminal can operate under remote computer control.