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IMS: RF chip market to bounce back in 2010

Posted: 04 Mar 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:handset market  RF chips  RF semiconductor industry  smart phones 

According to IMS Research, forecasts for the overall semiconductor industry are dire, but favourable trends in the handset market should keep the market for RF chips from crashing this year and ready to bounce back more quickly than other industry segments.

Analysts are now forecasting overall chip industry contraction on the order of 20 per cent or more. But indications are that the RF semiconductor industry may contract closer to 1 per cent in 2009 and bounce back with double digit growth in 2010 and beyond, according to IMS analyst Tom Hackenburg.

Hackenburg said the RF chip market will benefit from lower resistance to reduced consumer purchasing power in the mobile handset market, advancements in 3G and 4G technologies and consumer demand for more advanced smart phones.

Overall, high-performance semiconductors such as 32- and 64bit processors and 32- and 64bit core-based ASIC, ASSP and FPGA products are likely to see less than 5 per cent contraction for 2009, while many applications will actually see slight growth, Hackenburg said.

While its clearly going to be a challenging year for semiconductors, the brunt of the damage will be done in commodity segments such as memory, which could see a 30 to 40 per cent decrease in unit shipments in 2009, Hackenburg said.

"Specific applications segments will be more resilient in response to the economic contraction," Hackenburg said through a statement.

Economic contraction is likely to push the trend for higher integration to decrease BOM costs in the handset industry, according to Hackenburg. He said interesting solutions are likely to merge in the RF front-end using single power amplifiers in front-end modules that cover multiple bands as well as a large growth in integrated multi-mode solutions.

In the digital base band segment, Hackenburg said he expects to see more digital solutions to RF processes to the point of single-chip solutions and other highly integrated cores. Low-power processors to perform energy management will also rise in prominence, he said.

High-performance modules for voice enhancements, data connectivity, videography, multimedia and alternative displays will be needed to support a distinct trend towards smart phones and advanced feature phones, Hackenburg said.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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