Semiconductor Growth Turns Wireless
RF and mixed-signal intellectual-property (IP) technologies benefit from real growth, rumors of Apple’s WiFi chips, and MEMS.
The wireless chip market will be the leading growth segment for the semiconductor industry in 2013, predicts IHS iSuppli Semiconductor. The report states that original-equipment-manufacturer (OEM) spending on semiconductors for wireless applications will rise by 13.5% this year to reach a value of $69.6 billion - up from $62.3 billion in 2012.
Another sign of the dominance of wireless systems comes from Will Strauss, President & Principal Analyst of Forward Concepts.
“There is a rumor ‘published’ in Israel that Apple will be designing its own baseband and WiFi chips. When Texas Instruments dropped out of the cellphone business, within a week about 100 of the former TI engineers in Israel were hired by Apple.
Another rumor is that Apple will employ Intel’s foundry service for its next-generation application processor production, distancing itself from dependence on Samsung. Since the press is full of rumors of Apple using TSMC for their next apps processor, employing Intel’s fab is not a certainty.”
The design and development of wireless and cellular chips reflects a continuing need for related semiconductor IP. All wireless devices and cell phones rely on RF and analog mixed-signal (AMS) integrated circuits to convert radio signals into digital data, which can be passed to a baseband processor for data processing. That’s why a “wireless” search on the Chipestimate.com website reveals list after list of IP companies providing MIPI controllers, ADCs, DACs, PHY and MAC cores, LNAs, PAs, mixers, PLLs, VCOs, audio/video codecs, Viterbi encoders/decoders, and more.
Wireless has helped drive the growth of many industries - most notably, microelectromechanical-systems (MEMS) technology. The growth in RF MEMS could be considered “old news,” except that IP in sensors and signal-conditioning subsystems has been growing rapidly, thanks to smart phones, game interfaces, and tablet sales.
- MEMS and Packaging Hold Keys to Radio Connectivity
- Video interview with MEMS Group Director, Karen Lightman
Wireless technology is the focus of several major upcoming conferences. In addition to this week’s Mobile World Conference, next week’s DVCon event has a session dedicated to Mixed-Signal/Power Aware Design and Verification.
There is no escaping the importance of wireless and AMS IP in today’s SoCs. Wireless chips will continue to lead semiconductor growth for many years to come.