integrated circuits (MMICs)
here to go to our page on MMIC design
here to go to our page on T/R modules
Attention MMIC suppliers: if you want to add a link to your web site, please contact us.
Think of this page as the ultimate
MMIC supplier guide. A little history has been included
for your information and entertainment here and there.
The field of MMIC suppliers and
foundries is ever-changing. For example, during the recent twentieth
century the word "MMIC" pretty much meant GaAs and InP
products, but now other compound semis such as silicon germanium
(SiGe) and gallium nitride (GaN) now must be considered. Even
plain silicon CMOS has made inroads into GaAs territory! We try
to stay on top of the MMIC topic, but if this page is more than
three months old (see date on top right corner of the page),
all bets on its accuracy are off.
Attention MMIC suppliers: send
us material on your facility, and we'll post it. If you see
any errors in your data, or simply see something you don't like
here, please contact us.
Are we missing a review of any
major MMIC foundries or suppliers? Let us know and you could win
a cool pocketknife! If any information
is out of date or simply needs corrections, send your complaints
Did you know that thanks to us
all, the world is running out of gallium, indium, halfnium and even
about this nightmare here!
Want to see the world's first
MMIC, which is over thirty five years old? Click
here to go to the Microwave Hall of Fame, and meet Pengelly
and Turner, who published the paper on it.
Please visit our humble page
on wafer processing, and check
out our new page on MMIC semiconductor tradeoffs.
for October 2012: We've added Viper RF, a fabless product and design house in UK!
for August 2012: We've added IHP, a SiGe house in Germany!
GaAs club: these MMIC suppliers boast six-inch processing
lines: Avago, Anadigics, BAE Systems, Eudyna, GCS, Knowledge*on, Ommic, Transcom,
TriQuint (Oregon only, but they have been known to boast about building
a new 6" fab in Texas), Skyworks and Win Semi. Nitronex if
you include GaN on silicon, and Peregrine and Silanna if you include SOS!
GaN foundry club: here
we narrow the field to BAE, Cree, Eudyna/Fujitsu, Fraunhofer, freescale,
HRL, Nitronex, Northrop Grumman, Oki, Raytheon, RF Micro, Rockwell
and TriQuint. Let's also mention Gain Microwave, even though they
use a government facility to process their parts. Plenty of other
foundries have GaN on their roadmaps, so this list is expected to
SiGe foundry club: Jazz,
IBM, IHP and freescale all offer SiGe.
Silicon-on-sapphire foundry club: Peregrine and Silanna.
fab: this implies low-volume,
high-mix products, as you might see at a defense contractor that
uses its MMIC expertise to set it apart from its peer-group competitors.
Examples: Raytheon, Northrop, BAE, and Agilent. Usually requires
deep pockets to maintain, it is next to impossible to make money
in this game. Even though we're all engineers here, in this case
the word "boutique" in not a bad thing,
as in your spoiled daughter hosing away your dough at the mall,
a boutique fab is a good thing, because the opportunities
to excel are limited only by your budget and your imagination!
foundry: offers contract fab runs, but has no microwave design
capability. Example: IBM SiGe line.
opposite of pure-play, just a group of MMIC designers marketing
products fabbed elsewhere. Examples: Hittite, Endwave, Mimix (whoops,
Mimix now owns a fab...) These suppliers often
use off-shore fabs and package houses, yet most US military contractors
don't seem to care about this. Go figure!
Here is a clickable index to
the MMIC suppliers on this page:
Auriga Measurement Systems
California Eastern Laboratories
Custom MMIC Design Services (CMDS)
Filtronic Compound Semiconductors
Global Communication Semiconductors
M/A-COM Technology Solutions
Microwave Technology (MWT)
RF Micro Devices
Teledyne Scientifuc and Imaging LLC
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC)
United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC)
United Monolithic Semiconductors
Viasat Advanced Microwave Products
Metelics used to be just a diode vendor, but it looks like they
are moving up the food chain from PIN diodes to an HBT process.
You can buy a wide variety of gain blocks up to about 6 GHz from
Agilent , the test equipment company, maintains a fab in Santa Rosa,
Cali, which is called the “High Frequency Technology Center”. This
fab and its product line is often confused with Avago,
because Avago spun out of Agilent a few years back. Greg helped
us sort it all out recently (August 2010), thanks!
Agilent Technologies (formerly
HP) continues with a three-inch line for both GaAs & InP. Many
of the products are developed specifically for test equipment, so
"wideband" is the theme. How else are you going to cram
all the features into a 10 MHz to 67 GHz VNA that fits on a desktop?
The good news is that Agilent
sells some of their IC designs. (This really isn’t ‘news’… they
have been selling the HMMC line since the ‘80s). From here down
we will quote Greg:
We are indeed a ‘boutique’
fab – with total capacity of less in a whole year than most
fabs produce in one month (and this on 3”).
The PRIMARY purpose of Agilent’s
Santa Rosa fab is to support our T&M equipment. We are continuously
innovating and breaking boundaries.
We allocate a VERY SMALL
portion of our capacity for external sales. The HMMC/HSCH line
has been around for decades (always HP/Agilent’s, never Avago’s
– though people are still confused by this) – and can be purchased
by anyone. Yes – you can see Agilent made HMMC-5021’s at the front
end of some of our competitors NA’s … we’re OK with that. The
new 1Gxx line is also available through distribution, and are
for sale to ONLY NON T&M COMPANIES. These are some of our
more capable devices – and we don’t want to compete with them
in our T&M business.
We also, on rare occasion
– have acted as a foundry (though we really don’t have the capacity
for this – but could consider it again for the right business
This is a "new" GaAs and InP foundry. They bought
the WJ foundry located in Milipitas California
in 2007 and are now offering open foundry services (TriQuint bought
the WJ product line). The play here is that somehow indium phosphide
devices offer a big power amplifier efficiency advantage for handsets,
but efficiency is not the only goal in consumer electronics. They
can survive for a while on purchase agreements that were built into
the terms of the sale, but how long will TriQuint want to build
products outside of their own foundries after the agreements expire?
Six-inch fab, HBTs for wireless applications. RFICs. Beautiful Warren
NJ, in the heart of New Jersey's industrial rust belt. Power amps
up to ten watts, and a very high volume GaAs fab.
In September 2007 Anadigics announced
that they acquired the design team and intellectual property of
Fairchild RF (23 employees in an office in Tyngsboro Massachusetts),
an entity which had previously been sold by Raytheon to Fairchild.
Microelectronic Technologies Limited
Astra is a relatively new company based in Hyderabad, India. They
boast 20 MMIC designers, and from what we can tell they've been
quite busy. Their business play seems to be centered on defense
and space products rather that telecomm, Astra offers a full compliment
of X and S band T/R module MMICs, and some Ka-band parts as well.
This is a fabless MMIC company, they've told us they process their
parts at Win Semi.
We wish Astra best of luck in
this business, and the rest of the MMIC world better keep looking
over their shoulders!
Auriga has successfully executed some contract MMIC designs for
- Transmit chip for automobile
collision avoidance radar (77 GHz)
- Power amplifier for Transmit/Receive
(T/R) module in X-band using InP HBTs (Pout 10W)
- Low noise amplifier for T/R
module in X-band
- S band 10W amplifiers
- S band switches
Auriga has some very experienced
designers, including Dr. Yusuke Tajima who has numerous patents
and published papers.
Avago was spun off from Agilent as a privately-held separate semiconductor
company in February 2006. This $1.6B "startup" has its
roots as Hewlett Packard's semiconductor products group way back
in the 1960s. But please don't confuse the massive Avago foundry
in Colorado with the boutique fab run by Agilent
in Santa Rosa.
New info from Nameless Insider
#44... "The spin-off of Avago from Agilent didn't have much
to do with instrumentation: Agilent has a 3" captive fab in
Santa Rosa. It makes GaAs FETs (0.25 um), GaAs PHEMTs (0.125 um),
InGaP HBTs (2 um), and recently announced production of 1 um GaAs/Sb/InP
DHBTs (according to a talk at CSICS 2005). The 6" Avago fab
in Fort Collins does produce parts for instrumentation, but I think
their products were available to the mass market simultaneously.
So Rohde&Schwartz could buy Avago components made in Fort Collins
for their instrumentation, while Agilent would use more advanced
Santa Rosa captive fab parts where appropriate. The Fort Collins
fab was working on 6" InP (!) HBTs before the spin-off. (Incidentally,
Centellex is mostly former Agilent instrumentation/circuit designers.)"
We know more about what Avago
has been up, to thanks to "Nameless Insider #21!" Did
you know that Avago has a 6 inch foundry in Fort Collins,
Colorado with 4,000 wafer a month capacity that makes enhancement
mode PHEMT? Enhancement mode allows you you get rid of the negative
supply that you typically need on PHEMT power amps. What is Avago
doing with all of that 6 inch capacity? Mostly building power amps
for CDMA and GSM, trying to satisfy some bean-counters by at least
breaking even (the goal of every American GaAs foundry), and bucking
the trend toward HBTs... hang in there Dudes!
Here's a cool Avago wideband
MMIC that takes advantage of their enhancement FET process. It provides
up to 1 watt of power from 7 to 18 GHz, with only a single supply.
Looks like individual source vias are used, another technology that
separates the men from the boyz. You are seeing it here on Microwaves101
for the first time, an article will be published later this year
on this device. A real scoop, as Lois Lane would have said!
Here's another tasty little MMIC
with a lot of bandwidth from Avago . This is their first new millimeter-wave
catalog MMIC in a number of years, the AMC-5024 distributed amplifier
(shown below, more data on the Avago web site). This baby works
DC-50 GHz, with high gain (17dB), good power (22dBm), a built in
power detector, and can be had for 1/4
the cost of anything else on the market according to "NI"!
BAE runs the six-inch boutique GaAs foundry
that was built by Lockheed Sanders, in Nashua NH. BAE's processes
include MHEMT up to 300 GHz, and GaAs pHEMT to 120 GHz on economical
six-inch wafers. They also produce GaN HEMT products up to 40 GHz
on four-inch wafers. BAE routinely writes gates down to 70 nanometers
and on occasion 50 nm; they have achieved power density of 300 mW/mm
at 100 GHz.
The letters "BAE" officially
don't stand for anything, just like "HRL", doesn't offically stand for anything (but we all know it was once Hughes Research Labs)
but not that long ago the company was called British
Aerospace, which acquired GEC and Marconi in 1999 to become
BAE Systems. Marconi was started in 1897 by Guglielmo Marconi, the
second gigantic high-tech startup success of that century following
the transatlantic cable. Marconi, who appears in our Microwave
Hall of Fame, got much of his financial backing from the Jameson
family that his father married into, you may still enjoy their distilled
spirits today. Cheers!
BAE North America is a "foreign-owned
U.S. corporation" but a complete firewall between US and UK
interests allows them to participate in all manner of military contracts.
An example of their recent work is a decade-bandwidth distributed
amplifier providing more than 10 watts across 2-20 GHz with more
than 20 watts over part of that band. You can learn more about that
in Decade Bandwidth 2 to 20 GHz GaN HEMT Power Amplifier MMICs
in DFP and No FP Technology by Komiak, presented at the
IEEE-MTTS International Microwave Symposium in 2011.
Update on the founder of Sanders
Associates, Royden C. Sanders Jr. He passed away February 5, 2007,
age 89. Here we'll shamelessly quote from his New
Hampshire Telegraph obit:
Long before it became vogue
to work amid exposed brick and heavy beamed ceilings, Sanders
appreciated the value of the vacant mill buildings in Nashua.
Thanks to him, the Nashua mills were among the first to provide
space for the innovators whose creativity would place New Hampshire
at the forefront of an emerging high-tech economy. Despite its
reputation as a rural haven and vacation getaway, New Hampshire
always has relied heavily on manufacturing to sustain its citizens,
and there was a great danger of losing that capacity if not for
the vision of men like Sanders.
He was at first attracted
by the available space, but soon came to appreciate the work ethic
of the New Hampshire employees, who "really gave a day's
work for a day's pay," he once said. His early success demonstrated
what came to be known as "The New Hampshire advantage - ample
space at good prices, easy access to major transportation routes,
a capable and reliable work force, a pro-business tax structure,
and a quality of life that made it easier to attract the best
and the brightest."
Sanders' previous employer was
Raytheon located in Waltham MA, where he was regarded as a "mad
scientist" according to The Creative Ordeal by Otto
J. Scott. Sanders was a key contributor to early missile seeker
work using CW radar that evolved into the Hawk missile system that
is still in use today. In 1951 he took 10 other Raytheon engineers
to form his own company, "because he wanted to be free to engage
in creative engineering along his own lines".
BeRex is a new MMIC company that operates from Silicon Valley California
and Seoul Korea. They offer wideband amplifiers at cell phone frequencies,
and surface mount Wilkinson power dividers. From their web site:
BeRex offers such advantages
as ESD 4,000 volt, MSL 1, product quality uniformity, enhanced
band width 10 to 4000 MHz, 100% lead-free green products (RoHS
compliant), less external parts, higher performance, 100% RF/DC
screen, temperature compensated bias circuit, friendly packaging,
MTBF over 100 years...
Reviewing the data sheets, the
amplifiers are HBT products. This further info came to us from BeRex
BeRex, Corp. is a fabless
semiconductor company which designs, produces and markets GaAs
HBT RFICs and discrete transistors. With our team of experienced
engineers BeRex, Corp., has successfully developed a line of highly
advanced IC’s for cost-effective integration into high-volume
We use fabs located in NorCal,
Oregon, and Taiwan; product dependent.
Makers of gallium nitride substrates, including GaN on silicon and
GaN on sapphire.
Eastern Laboratories (CEL)
This company has formed a symbiotic relationship with Nippon Electric
Company (NEC) way back in 1959, and it has worked well over the
years. NEC produces the chips, and CEL markets them in the United
States. CEL isn't just a bunch of empty-suited ex-surfers, they
engineer some of the RFICs themselves. According to Dave, there
is a wet-suited surfer or two onboard (forgive the pun).
CEL/NEC was the first vendor to market discrete GaAs FETs thirty
years ago, and they offer some great commercial GaAs and silicon
RFIC products right now. There's a good chance your satellite television
low noise block has a CEL/NEC super-low noise FET at the input if
it's more than five years old.
Here's an image of another successful
California/Japan enterprise that began in the 1950s:
The entire Celeritek MMIC line has now been absorbed into the Mimix
product line, since they were purchased by Mimix in June 2005.
Update May 2006: the Celeritek
foundry (not product line) has again changed hands, it
was bought from Mimix by Universal Semiconductor
Technology, Inc. (USTI). Advice: if you plan on using a "Celeritek"
amplifier in a new design, consider a lifetime buy, the multi-year
agreement between MIMIX and USTI has to fab the old Celeritek parts
might just last as long as a Britney Spears marriage. You can recognize
a Celeritek part in the Mimix product line because its part number
cleverly starts with a "C"!
The following information should
be read in the past tense... "Celeritek, in Santa Clara
California, boasts a four-inch fab line processing InGaP HBTs with
operational voltages to 15 volts, and 0.25um gate PHEMT with etch
stop material for uniform pinch-off performance. Solid low noise
epi parts, tons of gain blocks, a few MMICs that operate into kA-band,
and discrete FETs too." This info is thanks to Damian,
who was once VP of marketing at Celeritek.
Fabless purveyors of GaAs and SiGe MMICs that span up to 65 GHz,
Centellax is located in Santa Rosa California. They have a great
web site (probably because no one at Centellax is over 40 years
old), including an app note on driving voltage-variable attenuators
with an op-amp. Our one complaint about the web site is that Centellax
seems to make a game out of hiding whether you are buying a SiGe
or GaAs component. Dudes, some of us care about stuff like channel
temperature limitations and radiation hardness, so put GaAs or SiGe
in the first sentence of each datasheet please!
This came in from Seann, who
disagrees with our statement that "probably because no one
at Centellax is over 40 years old"...
Actually, two of the three
Agilent engineers that defected from Agilent in early 2002 for
Centellax in Santa Rosa were well over 40. Jerry XXX and Julio
YYY are both "old geezers", the best kind of engineers.
They for example were the guys who did most of HP/Agilent's bread
and butter traveling wave and bandpass amplifiers back in the
90's, which were only recently discontinued when Avagotech had
to split away from Agilent's captive boutique fab in favor of
Winsemi for its high frequency MMIC portfolio.
This came in from Nameless Insider
#13 (think of this as an unconfirmed rumor but when you visit the
Centellax web site it makes sense...)
Don't even think about buy
MMICs from Centellax, unless you're planning to buy in bulk (1000s
per order). Apparently someone bought some of their chips, repackaged
them identically to one of their modules, and won a contract that
Centellax wanted. Their CEO has now ruled that only strategic
partners can buy bare die. They've changed the website so that
you can't even get datasheets unless you already know the part
number and search for it. It's a shame, 'cause they make really
Update June 2012: rumors are swirling that Cobham's Blacksburg fab will be shuttered for good early in 2013. It is never a good sign when you lay off the one mask designer...
Update March 2011: the Blacksburg fab is now up and running!
Cobham relocated their Roanoke fab to a location in Blacksburg VA
(previously the building was part of Rohm and Haas but was part
of a divestiture when R&H was acquired by Dow Chemical) - keeping
most of the people employed, although times have been a little tough
and there have been reductions in force. Thanks to Dan for pointing
Update May 2010: the cat
is out of the bag. Cobham is moving
the Roanoke foundry to Blacksburg Virginia. And they have recently
produced their first functional transistors on the new line.
Update March 2010: Cobham
Defense Systems is the owner of the "Gaastek" foundry
that was passed down from ITT to M/A-COM. It was based in Roanoke
Virginia, but their lease with ITT ran out. We don't know where
they moved the fab, maybe someone can clue us in! If you dig around
the world wide web, you might conclude that Cobham is still interested
in selling MMICs, which sport self-aligned gate GaAs MESFETs, a
technology that was cutting edge about twenty years ago.
Update April 2009: rumors
have it that Cobham's (M/A-COM) MMIC foundry in Roanoke will be
out of business by February 2010, because ITT has opted not to renew
their lease (M/A-COM has been renting space for the GaAs fab that
they bought from ITT many years ago). Although there hasn't been
an official press release on this topic, we've heard the story from
as far away as Norway, as Cobham tells key customers that it might
be prudent to place big orders now before products go obsolete.
Cobhams' shopping spree in the
US made for some interesting bed fellows. This is where Remec MMIC
designs and designers ended up after
Remec disintegrated. Later Cobham folded in another acquisition,
M/A-COM, which was a competitor of Remec. Recall that M/A-COM was
made of many parts, including the "original" M/A-COM in
Massachusetts, and the west coast M/A-COM that was originally Watkins
Johnson. We will speculate that these two businesses never really
blended well together, even before being teamed with the Remec designers.
In 2009, Cobham sold off most of the Massachusetts operation, which
is reverting back to the name M/A-COM Technical
Solutions. If this is confusing you, you are not alone!
fabless MMIC design center is based in Richardson Texas and
traces its roots back to Texas Instruments, then Remec. Their eight
designers claim 200 years of experience total. They have processed
designs at TriQuint, M/A-COM Roanoke, Raytheon, and Win Semi, and
their designs have some novel features you won't find elsewhere
(according to unnamed sources). Their specialty is compact power
amplifier designs, which they employ some patented compact FET layouts.
They have in-house wafer-test capability to 65 GHz.
These guys are emerging as a huge player in the gallium nitride
field, having already become the established champions of silicon
carbide technology. Unlike some of the companies on this page, Cree
earns money. Along with TriQuint, Cree announced the availability
of GaN MMICs and foundry services at the 2008 IEEE IMS symposium
in June. And you make have notied the Cree brand when you visit Home Depot's LED lighting section.
Cree currently offers foundry
services for silicon carbide and GaN MMICs, including capacitors,
resistors and backside. Don't expect to make any circuits above
C-band, as gates are all done optically.
Recent rumors that General Electric
was going to buy Cree (to become a player in solid state lighting)
seem to have been proved false.
Design Services (CMDS)
CMDS is a small firm that began with a few ex-Hittite designers
in 2006, and boasts design and test capabilities up to 67 GHz. They
have a couple of microwave calculators on their web site that we
think are worth
Endwave was acquired by GigOptix in 2011, but many of their products are still available under the GigOptix RF/MMIC product line.
Endwave has recently made a pay to become a fabless MMIC house,
following the footsteps of Hittite and Mimix.
They are churning out a wide variety of designs, which are worth
In 2004 Fujitsu Compound Semiconductor formed a joint venture with
Sumitomo Electric Industries, which they branded as Eudyna Devices
Inc. Note: the correct pronunciation is "you-DEEN-a",
don't be a Rube
and say "you-DINE-a".) They carry a lineup of MMICs up
through V-band, but their papers at recent IEEE
MTT-S Symposiums show that they have been very, very busy on
the problems associated with gallium nitride devices. Eudyna was
the very first company to offer GaN devices commercially, and they
did it all without help from Daddy Warbucks,
unlike the major US GaN players.
Often you will see cutting edge
MMIC technology papers published by authors/inventors such as Toshi
Kikkawa at Compound Semiconductor Devices Laboratory, Fujitsu
Laboratories Ltd. This is a research center (think of them as Eudyna's
brothers, they are closer than cousins!), devices with commercial
appeal can be transferred later to Eudyna for production.Eudyna is great example of a
Japanese company that quietly kicks butt with its products. As Fujitsu,
they were one of the first companies to offer millimeterwave LNAs
with noise figures less than 2 dB. Now they are offering some 60
GHz designs. Sumitomo brings a lot to the table in terms of world-class
material growth capability. Bonzai!
Alas, Excelics is no more. This privately held company quietly went out of business back in February 2011. The sharks are circling, look for other companies to offer data sheets cross-referenced to Excelics part numbers... thanks to David for pointing this out!
Sunnyvale California. Four-inch fab. Mostly discrete devices, but a small
product line of MMICs.
Alas, Fairchild RF is no more, since September 2007 Fairchild sold
off their RF hobby shop to Anadigics.
Raytheon sold off their commercial
MMIC interests to Fairchild in November 2003. The two-dozen employees
that were transferred moved to their own building in Massachusetts.
They took with them all of Raytheon's commercial designs for wireless
products, including HBT and PHEMT product designs, plus an agreement
to process GaAs wafers in Taiwan at Win Semi.
Their product line included handset and base station components,
wideband, millimeterwave and wireless LAN components.
Filtronic's product line has now been folded in with RFMD's
Update December 2007:
Filtronic announced that it intends to sell its entire MMIC compound
semiconductor operation to RFMD for the fire-sale price of $25M.
than nothing, which is where the negotiations started. Thus
the final British company has thrown in the towel on GaAs fabs.
Update September 2007:
the Filtronic foundry suffered a layoff of 115 workers to maintain
a "cash-neutral" business model.
Update February 2006:
wider than expected operating losses probably had nothing to do
with it, but Filtronic sacked their Mayor
McCheese and a few others recently. If you're interested just
search Google's news tab on the name Filtronic to read more...
From their web site: The "Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte
Festkörperphysik" or Fraunhofer Institute for Applied
Solid-State Physics - IAF in short - is a leading research center
in the field of III-V-compound semiconductors and their applications
in micro-, nano- and optoelectronics."
Fraunhofer possesses a small
fab line, more suited for research than production. But these guys
make some really cool millimeterwave flip-chip
devices! Not many places on Earth can you buy 220 GHz MMIC products,
but Fraunhofer is one. Check out their annual
reports for the latest capabilities.
Update May 2010: freescale announced
they are back in the MMIC business. It's a lot simpler now that
they don't have to pay the electric bill for a fab. We'll venture
a guess that the new freescale MMICs are being fabbed in Taiwan.
Where else can you make a good power amp for less than a buck?
Update May 2008: it's
all over for freescale as a MMIC supplier. freescale has announced
that they will be shuttering
the Tempe GaAs fab.
Update, February 2008:
freescale was bought by an equity consortium a few years back, including
the Blackstone Group. Blackstone is one of those
private equity firms that takes over troubled companies and
sells off bits and pieces of the original company to maximize their
ROIC (return on investor capital). Look out Chrysler, now that you're
owned by Cerberus Capital Management! But what's this? Blackstone
floated their own IPO and is now a publicly traded company, so you,
too can profit from the demise of unfortunate companies they take
over. Chinese investors immediately bought 10% of the BX stock.
Holy cow, Batman, you don't ever want to see a Blackstone limo pull
up in front of your North American wafer fab! Or in front of your
fab in Scotland, freescale already sold off their two foundries
Now that Blackstone is a "partner"
at freescale, the entire GaAs product line was sold out to Skyworks
in 2007, not including the wafer fab, which is now for sale. This
is a very large 6 inch fab in Tempe Arizona. Best of luck to the
sellers and buyers, Tempe doesn't need another Costco or WalMart,
but there's little market for a compound semi fab these days unless
your name is RF Micro.
freescale was a spin-off of Motorola.
By not capitalizing the first letter of the name, they want it to
appear "friendly". They make all kinds of digital ICs,
but if you have the patience, on their web site eventually you can
click into their impressive lineups of LDMOS power amplifiers and
InGaP HBT amplifiers. They have one of the first six-sigma-inch
HBT fab lines, and also do SiGe work in house, competing with IBM
and Jazz for this potentially huge market. They also have done some
work on GaN, but they seem to be keeping quite about it. There's
at least one IEEE paper that reports freescale GaN results.
Like those of so many billion
dollar companies, the Freescale web site is a horror show of useless
information! So is Motorola's site, come to think of it... they
both must have applied their principles of six sigma to its design.
Good luck finding freescale's pages on RF stuff, we gave up trying
to link to it because the address keeps changing. Six Sigma question:
which of these car companies uses six sigma: Toyota, or Ford? Answer:
Ford does, Toyota never heard of it!
Speaking of Moto-spinoffs, perhaps
freescale will last longer than Thoughtbeam.
A privately held company in Ottawa, Canada, home of that
two-four of Blue that you can't purchase in Tucson. They design
and supply GaN MMICs which are processed at the National
Research Council of Canada. Bet you didn't think of Canada
as supplier of GaN! Incorporated in 2003, they already are
supported by contract Loonies, not investor capital. We wish
them the best of luck!
||Here's an image
of very compact SPDT series/shunt switch prototype from Gain
Microwave. It uses 0.8 um gate GaN HEMT technology on a thick
silicon carbide substrate with CPW transmission lines. The RF
common port is to the south, the probe on the north side is
supplying switch voltages. Loss at 10 GHz was measured at 1.85
dB, power handling hasn't been completely characterized yet,
but it will be measured in watts, not milliwatts!
GigOptix acquired Endwave in 2011.
iTerra changed their name to GigOptix in 2007. This blurb came to us from their corporate communications manager:
GigOptix is a leading fabless supplier of semiconductor and optical components that enable high-speed information streaming and address emerging high-growth opportunities in the communications, industrial, defense and avionics industries. The Company offers a broad portfolio of high performance MMIC solutions that enable next generation wireless microwave systems up to 90 GHz and drivers, TIAs (trans-impedance amplifiers) and TFPSTM (thin film polymer on silicon) optical modulators for 40G and 100G fiber-optic telecommunications and data-communications networks. GigOptix also offers a wide range of digital and mixed-signal ASIC solutions and enables product lifetime extension through its GigOptix Sunset Rescue Program.
As for MMICs, GigOptix offers limiting amps, and wideband distributed amplifiers, fixed attenuators and more.
Communication Semiconductors (GCS)
GCS is a pure-play GaAs foundry in Torrence, California, they are
the opposite of companies like Hittite. Their InGaP and InP HBT
processes are state-of-the-art (fT of < 200 GHz for InP HBT!)
They offer a 0.5 micron optical PHEMT process, and they offer shared
mask opportunities for microwave cheapskates. GCS currently has
a capacity of 500 4-inch wafers per week and will soon expand capacity
with a 6-inch facility. A good question on this decision is "why"?
They also advertise SAW capability.
Short for "Goteburg Microwave Integrated Circuits", Gotmic
plans to become a competitor in millimeterwave ICs, with designs
spanning 10 to 120 GHz, and highly integrated MMICs their specialty.
Gotmic is a spin-off company from Chalmers University of Technology,
Microwave Electronics Laboratory, in Sweden. Looks like their products
are all 100 um thick GaAs pHEMT, there is no way to tell what fab
they are processed at. Good luck!!!
Update September 2011: Up until now, Hittite has enjoyed
profit margins in the MMIC industry. But TriQuint recently informed
them they are closing their fab to commercial fabless companies
that compete with them. Maybe they are sick of seeing Hittite's
market cap at $1.6B with TriQuint $1.0B while they do all the heavy
lifting. See page 11 of Hittite's recent SEC filing:
Hittite has more than three and
a half years to make the transition. Now the fun begins, hundreds
of designs have to be ported over to other fabs and bugs worked
out. It's long term employment for all Hittite designers!
Update October 2007: Northrop
has come to an interesting agreement with Hittite, the entire Velocium
product line has been transferred to Hittite. This is good news
for both companies, no one markets MMICs better than Hittite.
Hittite is privately owned, and
one of the oldest fabless companies (founded
in 1985). They are named after an obscure tribe of Indo-Europeans
from Anatolia who once ruled Mesopotamia (thanks David for pointing
this out!) Hittite is a major success story as a fabless
MMIC supplier. With headquarters in Chelmsford Massachusetts (say
"Chemsfud" if you want to be understood by natives), they
process their designs primarily at TriQuint and United Monolithic
Semiconductor but they usually won't tell you where your circuits
were fabricated. There would be no sense telling the US government
that some top secret program depends on components fabricated in
France, Hittite's a US company, right? They offer the most substantial
MMIC mixer product line in the world, it seems they have never obsoleted
a single component in their history, which is not always a good
thing. With the addition of the Velocium product line, Hittite products
now span 0 to 85 GHz!
One weird thing about Hittite
is that everyone has the same phone number on their business cards,
and you have to speak to a switchboard operator before you can talk
to a sales guy. How's that for forward thinking?
Hittite trivia: that weird looking
emblem next to the name is not some kind of radar, it's the symbol
an ancient sun god, who is no doubt pleased with our progress on
Hittite has an amplifier in our
rogues gallery of conditionally
You'd think that HRL stands for "Hughes Research Laboratories",
but it officially doesn't. This is because when Raytheon bought
out Hughes Aircraft in the 1990s they went out of their way to erase
the name "Hughes" everywhere that they could. Why? Because
the two companies pretty much hated each other as competitors. In
1996 Hughes employee Khai Xuan Le drove coast to coast to murder
Raytheon employee Sang T. Lam! OK, it was over a girl, but
this story says a lot about the atmosphere of the times. Legend
has it in 1997 Raytheon tried to rename Hughes Access Road at their
acquired Tucson factory, but the town told them to pound sand. No
doubt they would have renamed the Hughes Federal Credit Union which
shares the Raytheon Tucson driveway, too bad you can't rename what
you don't own!
Since 1997 HRL Laboratories was
run as a limited liability partnership between nearly-bankrupt purveyor
of SUVs General Motors (which for a time owned Hughes Aircraft),
Boeing and Raytheon, a love-child of the wacky mergers of the 1990s.
Update December 2006: Raytheon quietly divested from the
partnership, but pretty much kept this fact out of the news. About
the only way you can tell that this has happened is this message
from the Chairman of HRL on the HRL web site:
"I am pleased to include
this personal message on HRL's web site. In 2004, my first year
as HRL's Board Chairman, I came to recognize the potential value
that HRL offers to each LLC Member – Boeing and General Motors."
Funny thing about that sentence,
in 2004, the LLC had three members... guess it will take a while
longer to rewrite history properly. Maybe Boeing and GenMot will
do the right thing and restore the proud name of Hughes Research
Laboratories one of these days.
HRL Laboratories is the namesake
of the late Howard Robard Hughes, one of the top 100 influential
20th century Americans, who would have celebrated his 100 year birthday
on Christmas Eve 2005. After WWII Howard built a formidable enterprise
that employed literally tens of thousands of Ph.D. engineers in
California, where they invented all manner of missiles, lasers,
and other cool toys. Today HRL is about all that is left of the
Hughes legacy, but in keeping with tradition, you cannot swing a
dead cat without smacking a PhD engineer upside the head within
their Malibu facility! HRL contains among other things the ultimate
boutique MMIC foundry, with emphasis on
indium phosphide and gallium nitride, especially for millimeterwave
They make both HEMTs and HBTs. Remember it is not a production house,
it's a place where records are broken with each new design, which
doesn't come cheap, so bring the long green.
Here's a nice
chain of HRL MMICs that provides power at 300 GHz:
Some Hughes records
Speaking of the Hughes legacy,
until recently the HRL Laboratories web site was a treasure trove
of historical technical information, but all that good stuff is
gone. What happened? Rumor has it that a highly paid empty suit
advised HRL to "focus on the future, not on the past".
Hey guys, here's an offer you can't refuse, send some historical
Hughes microwave info to Microwaves101 and we'll keep it posted
as long as there's an Internet! In another disturbing development,
it appears that HRL has unplugged the surf cam from their web site,
which no doubt reduced site visits by more than 30 dB.
IBM is the biggest player in SiGe. Their pure-play
fab line in Burlington Vermont sets all of the standards for this
technology, and is used by a worldwide army of companies. They are
so big they have their own bridge across a real river!
To paraphrase Eddie Murphy in
Trading Places, "once you've had a man with no legs
(or in IBM's case, no GaAs fab), you won't want anyone else".
Funny thing is, IBM pulled the plug on their SiGe design group in
2002, so all they have is foundry services today.
IBM seems to have named their
production SiGe processes using the same rating system as Pokemon
cards.... are they secretly owned by the Japanese? "5HP",
"6HP" "7HP" and so on. They quote some impressive
numbers for maximum frequency in the newer processes (120 GHz for
7HP), but the main attraction to SiGe technology is that it is cheaper
than dirt. That is, until you add in licensing fees, masks, and
design NRE. But you do get a lot of chips on an eight inch wafer.
Operating SiGe at higher frequencies
is a double edged sword. As emitter geometries are reduced, breakdown
voltages are reduced. The 7HP collector-emitter breakdown voltage
is 1.8 volts. SiGe is not going to replace front-end compound
semiconductors for millimeterwave applications any time soon. Remember,
you heard that here first!
If you click around the IBM SiGe
web site (we recommend it!) you will find a nice tutorial on how
SiGe MMICs are made.
This information came from Maurizio at IHP (thanks!)
IHP used to be an acronym for “Institut für Halbleiter Physik” (Institute for Semiconductor Physics) from former GDR (“East Germany” before reunification). We are basically located in the “Silicon Valley” of former East Germany.
Now the acronym stands for “Innovations for High Performance” microelectronics.
We are the “Leibniz-Institut” for innovative microelectronics. We are not related to Fraunhofer but we of course cooperate and have joint projects together.
Our processes are on 250nm and 130nm technology node and offer SiGe BiCMOS technologies and provide very high frequency HBTs with cut-off frequencies up to 500 GHz and integrated LDMOS devices with breakdown voltages of up to 22 V, including complementary devices. We also have useful integrated MEMS for frequencies above 30 GHz. All wafers are 200mm diameter.
We are strong in MPW (multi-project wafer, where more customers join and split the mask costs) runs allowing for cost-effective prototyping and we can also give Engineering Runs for low volume applications.
IMEC is European consortium that performs research in micro
and nano electronics.
Trivia question - can you name
a famous Belgian? and Hercule Poirot doesn't count. Give up? How
Sax, inventor of the saxophone! Or Edward
de Smedt, the inventor of asphalt! How about Leo Baekeland,
inventor of Bakelite and Microwaves101
Infineon has repositioned itself from a large GaAs fab to a large
SiGe fab house. Good luck finding what you want on their web site.
Update October 2007: iTerra has changed their name to GigOptix.
Update November 2008: Jazz merged with Tower Semiconductor. Not
sure if there will be a name change...
Jazz offers eight-inch (200mm)
CMOS and SiGe BiCMOS foundry, in similar nodes to IBM, down to 0.13
Another third-world foundry sporting a six-inch HBT process line,
located in Korea, one Scud missile away from Chapter 11. If the
lowest possible cost is your goal and your design calls for GaAs
HBT, check them out.
Update April 2012: M/A-COM Tech launched an IPO in March, in the last month the stock price has held between twenty and twenty-two bucks on NASDAQ (MTSI) with market cap around $900M.
Update September 2011: Could TriQuint's
decision not to process Hittite wafers after June 2015 also mark
the end of an agreement with M/A-COM-MIMIX? Maybe someone inside
could confirm that for us...
Update May 2010: Privately
held Technology Solutions M/A-COM is acquiring
Update March 2010: Late
last year, Cobham sold off part of their recent acquisition from
Tyco. The result is that the "original" M/A-COM is now
an independent business, and this venerable nameplate from the 1950s
survives. The company is now called M/A-COM Technology Solutions,
and is presumably headquartered in Lowell Massachusetts.
M/A-COM offers an interesting
mixture of circuits and technologies. Some of their designs might
date back to the 1970s, and most if not all of the military product
base stayed at Cobham. But with new ownership and some key players
rejoining the team, it is worth keeping an eye on their future products.
They still have a great PIN diode MMIC process which is a legitimate
money-making niche, and then there's that "HMIC" process
that builds glass circuits on silicon. Maybe they can get Dennis
Kozlowski out of the slammer to run the show!
Update April 2009: the
remnants of M/A-COM's GaAs business were sold to John Ocampo for
$90M on March 31, 2009 (there has been a press
release on this), and this company is now called M/A-COM Technology
Solutions. In hindsight, this was predictable, new owners usually
aren't interested in maintaining non-profitable businesses. Ocampo's
company is GaAs Labs LLC, and he serves as chairman of the board
for Mimix Broadband, a private company where he has made some big
investments. He made his original money selling Sirenza
(where he was a founder) to RF Micro back in 2007 when this type
of business in North America was actually worth more than zero.
Good luck to all! Maybe Ocampo should consider changing the name
of his investment firm, "GaAs Labs" sounds like the Packard
automobile! The future of compound semis is far more diverse than
just two elements on the periodic chart. Ocamo is also a big partner
in Mimix, and is chairman of their board.
Update October 2008: it's
official, Tyco has sold M/A-COM to Cobham plc.
The part of M/A-COM that provided MMICs is now known as Cobham M/A-COM
RF and Microwave Components.
The fun of consolidation will
soon begin! In their press
release they mention that M/A-COM's capabilities will be combined
with the Remec business that Cobham acquired a few years back. The
hose is being connected to the tailpipe, it's just a question of
which stray dogs get adopted and which ones go to their reward...
Update May 2008: M/A-COM's
parent Tyco recently
announced their intent to sell M/A-COM to Cobham plc, a British
company, for $425M. The new owners have (sort of) announced that
they will be shedding the foundries (they used to have one in the
UK so they are familiar with negative ROIC), but the problem is
that no one is going to want any of that. If you picked M/A-COM's
Roanoke foundry in the compound semi death pool, you're looking
good! M/A-COM fab employees, please send us some resumes....
M/A-Com absorbed a number of
foundries over the years including ITT's GaAsTek line M/A-Com is
owned by Tyco Electronics (previously it was owned by Amp which
got bought out). Their ex-CEO Dennis
Kozlowski is serving eight years for wasting $400M on himself.
M/A-Com has been a microwave
company since long before it was fashionable, so they have a lot
of expertise, which is evidenced by the many application notes on
their web site. They also have offer an excellent paper catalog,
and the woodwork is crawling with M/A-Com representatives who will
buy you lunch any time. M/A-Com's foundries are in Lowell MA and
One of M/A-Com's interests of
late is the automotive radar field (collision-avoidance). Why anyone
would want to be involved in a revenue-reduction scheme like that
is beyond us. Anyway, they have been developing some impressive
low-cost W-band technology, so be sure to check that out.
Update May 2010: Privately-held M/A-COM Technology Solutions acquired acquiring
Update May 2006: MIMIX
sold off the fab house that was once Celeritek, to Universal
Semiconductor Technology, Inc. (USTI).
Mimix is a fabless
MMIC house. Julie Teinert, Mimix director of marketing, wants you
to know this about her company:
Mimix Broadband, Inc. supplies
high performance gallium arsenide (GaAs) semiconductors from DC
to 50 GHz for microwave and millimeter-wave applications. Mimix
has offices in Houston, Sydney, Belfast and Hsinchu, and offers
a unique combination of semiconductor design expertise and communications
systems background to develop state-of-the-art microwave and millimeterwave
semiconductors. Mimix markets a highly diversified product line
that serves the top tier telecom, satellite and defense companies
Here's a picture of one of Mimix's
Ka-band power amps. The Lange couplers pretty much guarantee you
will see an excellent output impedance match! Guess which foundry
this puppy was processed at and win a cool pocket knife!!!
Technology Inc. (MwT)
This info came from their web site (but we had to spell check it):
Located in California’s
Silicon Valley, MicroWave Technology, Inc. (MwT) was founded in
1982 by technical principals with broad experience in Gallium
Arsenide (GaAs) device design and fabrication. With a factory
occupying 35,000 square foot, the Company’s principal assets include
both its GaAs semiconductor fab and a hybrid chip and wire microwave
integrated circuit (HMIC) manufacturing facility. The vertical
manufacturing and product strength provide MwT uncommon flexibility
and opportunity in the microwave component marketplace.
Minicircuits of Brooklyn New York is well known as the biggest advertiser
in the entire microwave industry (but apparently they never heard
of Microwaves101 until November 16, 2005). They offer a variety
of plastic-packaged MMICs (cheap!), mostly HBT efforts. We're not
sure where these chips are processed or designed (M-C is fabless),
but we're sure that Mini-Circuits does not have semiconductor fabrication
capability. They offer "high-directivity" MMICs, and we
have a page to explain what that
On their web site
you will find the "Yoni search tool". After some speculation
followed by a half-hour phone call, we've been informed that "Yoni"
is named after the founder's granddaughter. Where else will you
learn trivia like this except Microwaves101?
an amplifier in our rogues gallery of conditionally
Update June 2012: Nitronex announced that they have been acquired by GaAs Labs. GaAs Labs is a private investment company owned by John Ocampo, who put together the MIMIX-M/A-COM merger now known as M/A-COM Technology Solutions which went public earlier in the year. This is just a few months after Nitronex sold a license to GCS for their GaN-on-silicon process. Terms of either deal were not disclosed, however, it the odds are that the original Nitronex investors took a serious haircut.
Nitronex is a developer of patented GaN on silicon
technology. The trade space here is potentially lower cost, but
lower performance than GaN on silicon
carbide. Why lower performance? Silicon isn't really a MMIC
substrate owing to its high conductivity, and its thermal conductivity
is much lower which reduces the output power density.
Nitronex is planning
on offering foundry services, starting in 2008.
You'd think if you
were gonna do GaN on silicon, you might sell eight-inch wafers and
really blow away the competition. Nope, so far all they've been
able to grow is four-inch after burning $56M of venture capital,
and come up with the name "Sigantic", which rhymes with
Titanic or Satanic, take your pick. On their web site you can visit
the Orwellian-sounding "GaN education center".
Northrop Grumman over the years acquired two compound semi fabs,
one on the west coast from TRW, and one from the east coast from
Westinghouse. These lines are seemingly operated independently from
each other. Until October 2007, NG marketed MMICs fabricated in
their west coast fab under the brand Velocium,
but that name is now history as Hittite has
taken over this product line.
Northrop has some exciting Darpa
programs involving MMICs, including SMART, WBGS-2, COSMOS and others.
Northrop has Trusted Foundry status with the National Security Agency.
Here's an interesting little
by NG to the newswires in October 2006...
Third quarter 2006 unallocated
expenses increased to $140 million from $42 million in the 2005
third quarter. In the third quarter of 2006, the company recorded
a $112.5 million pre-tax provision for its settlement offer and
associated expenses. As previously reported, in October 2005,
the U.S. Department of Justice and a classified government customer
notified the company of potential substantial claims relating
to certain microelectronics parts produced by the Space and Electronics
sector of the former TRW Inc. In the third quarter of 2006, the
company and the customer commenced settlement discussions. While
the company believes it acted appropriately in this matter, the
company offered a settlement to resolve all potential claims,
avoid litigation, and to recognize the value of the customer relationship.
This quarter's pretax provision reflects the company's settlement
offer and related expenses. The company is not able to predict
the outcome of this matter at this time.
You might think that "certain
microelectronic parts" might mean "MMICs", but we
may never know what the problem was... but it's too bad NG shareholders
end up getting hosed out of $0.20 per share in profits. Good one,
The clever new name for the Philips GaAs foundry, somewhere near
Paris France. No, we didn't misspell "Ohmic", they did.
They have a six-inch fab line, and have some advanced capabilities
including E-mode transistors, InP double heterostructure DHBT to
300 GHz, and PHEMT and MHEMT with gates down to 70 nanometers. This
is world class stuff.
Update June 2007! Ommic
has been forging ahead on a MMIC product line, and now offers low
noise amplifiers (up to kA-band), and digital phase shifters and
Peregrine Semi is the only source of RFICs processed on silicon-on-sapphire. SOS technology has been around since the 1960s, and removes the biggest limitation of silicon RFICs: sapphire has no loss due to substrate conductivity. We need to add a page on SOS one of these days!
Peregrine offers switches made on silicon that can compete with their GaAs counterparts. They also offer digital step attenuators, prescalers and phase-locked loops.
Plextek RF Integration was formed from the MMIC design team of Plextek Ltd, became a separate line of business within the Plextek Group in November 2012 (see press release.) Liam Devlin is CEO of Plextek RFI.
Plextek RF Integration is a consulting company near Cambridge,
in the UK. They have considerable MMIC design expertise (perhaps
some ex-Bookham designers?) and to date have developed over 60 full
custom GaAs MMICs. Win Semi has announced that
Plextek is their official design house. If you work in a US company,
good luck hiring a British company to design into a Chinese semiconductor
foundry and stay on the good side of ITAR!
In addition to WIN, Plextek has used wafer fabs at TriQuint, GCS
and Bookham (when Bookham was alive) according to Liam Devlin, a good friend and frequent contributor
to Microwaves101. Think of Plextek as the Morgan
Motors of MMIC design! Here's an example of one of their designs,
we'll try to dissect it on our MMIC design
Prewell is a Korean RFIC company that sells PHEMT and HBT chips
that they manufacture. Nothing spectacular, just low noise, medium
power and gain block amplifiers up to about 3 GHz in packages.
Founded in 1881 by telecom pioneer Kibataro Oki, Oki Electric Industry
Co., Ltd. is Japan's first telecommunications manufacturer and is
headquartered in Tokyo. They have strong research capabilities in
GaAs and GaN technologies, according to press releases they have
achieved 115 GHz Fmax for a GaN HEMT on silicon. They also offer
GaAs HEMT technology with gate lengths at 0.15 microns.
Oki is the same company that
competes with HP for printers.
Qwave is a new company with a short portfolio of surface mount GaAs
pHEMT MMICs, including switches and a GPS-frequency LNA. They have
facilities in Japan and Taiwan.
Located in Lowell Massachusetts and Cork Ireland, RF Integration
is a fabless RF/mixed signal manufacturer,
in the business of developing custom chip-set solutions for customers.
Every day is Saint Paddy's Day at RFI! Don't look for a product
lineup on their web site, they don't show one. As a matter of fact,
they don't give names of any people on their web site, maybe they
are all on the witness protection plan. RFI claims to work in SiGe
CMOS, GaAs, and SOI.
Update March 2008: RFMD has announced that they will hold
off building a new fab in North Carolina, because of their Filtronic
purchase. Hooray for RFMD, for not paving paradise to put up a parking
Update December 2007:
RFMD's buying binge continues, this time they'll be purchasing
the Filtronic GaAs fab in Ayecliff England, for the pennies-on-the-dollar
sum of $25M. That moves them up the food chain toward millimeterwave
devices, look for future competition here with TriQuint. Here RFMD
will have one slight advantage, there are no ITAR
restrictions on selling military parts overseas when those parts
that are designed and fabbed overseas.
Speaking of this merger, now
RFMD owns the Filtronic amplifier line that dates back to the previous
century starting at now-defunct Litton Solid State. They still haven't
done the right thing and weeded out the FMA219 from the lineup.
Through its acquisition of Filtronic, RFMD has an amplifier in our
rogues gallery of conditionally
Update October 2007: RFMD
has announced their intention of acquiring Sirenza,
it looks like this nameplate will be going away.
Let's point out first that RFMD
is now by far the largest fabricator of GaAs parts in the world,
a remarkable position when you consider that most of their parts
are fabbed in North Carolina, not in Asia! And right now they are
building yet another 6 inch fab on their home turf.
RFMD is located in Greensboro
NC, with a major fab center in Beijing China. Founded by Jerry Neal,
Powell Semour and Bill Pratt (all are now zillionaires, maybe one
of them has a homely daughter left over that you could marry...),
RFMD was the first company to use HBT MMICs for power amplifiers,
a move that fueled a generation of mobile phones. Jerry Neal published
a book chronicling the success of the company, we'll review it one
of these days. It has the unfortunate title Fire
in the Belly: Building A World-leading High-tech Company From Scratch
In Tumultuous Times. As if the founders of RFMD survived the
Great Depression or the Civil War or the Holocaust while inventing
a computer that is built of peanut shells.
Through an alliance with Jazz
Semiconductor RFMD has entered the SiGe field. RFMD took over RF
Nitro in 2001, a company that was working on high-power GaN stuff.
RFMD comprises the largest GaAs fab in the world, processing 200,000
4" equivalents per year, according to Nameless Insider 3.
RFMD has an extensive catalog
of MMIC low to medium power amplifiers up to around 8 GHz, as well
as chip sets for all manner of commercial wireless applications
such as handsets, Bluetooth, GPS etc.
They have a good web site with
technical articles. An excellent paper catalog too. As they used
to say during the Great Depression, enough paper to get you through
green apple season!
Teledyne bought Rockwell Scientific in 2007,
hence the name change.
Update May 19, 2011. SiGe
was officially bought out by Skyworks
for up to $275M, ending the dream that one day this Canadian company
would join the Nasdaq exchange. So far no one has shown up in SiGe's
Andover office with tags for the furniture, but don't be surprised
if a Skyworks truck backs up and the tailpipe is routed into a window
to clear out this "extra" design center...
SiGe was started by a bunch of
Canadians who mistakenly pronounce their company "sigh-gee".
They work in (guess what?) "siggy" MMICs, for applications
such as Bluetooth, GPS and wireless LAN. Like most SiGe companies
they use IBM's foundry, and grabbed a good many employees from Big
Blue as well.
Update September 2012: Back in 2010, Sapphicon changed their name to Silanna.
Silanna has a silicon-on-sapphire process similar to Peregrine. They offer a unique "compressed mask" prototype foundry option where only four masks are used to provide 16 layers (saves $$$). They are also the only US trusted foundry that is outside the United States, which says something about the relationship between US and Australia. And if you go to their web site and fill in a form, you can obtain pricing and technical information without the need for a nondisclosure agreement that most other fabs demand.
We added (August 2010) Sapphicon at the suggestion
of David from Down Under who can't resist the temptation to plug
these "local guys". We shamelessly stole this info from
their web site...
For over 20 years the team
at Sapphicon Semiconductor has been assisting customers to increase
the performance and functionality of their products by developing
high performance silicon chips.
Formerly a part of Peregrine
Semiconductor it now services a global client base as an independent
organization with headquarters and manufacturing in Sydney, Australia.
The company uses advanced
Silicon-on-Sapphire process technology that makes possible the
creation of high performance mixed signal analog devices such
as RF switches, low noise amplifiers, high frequency VCOs and
a myriad of other applications.
Sirenza was acquired by RF Micro Devices
in 2007 and some individuals made some serious folding money. The
nameplate "Sirenza" was soon retired.
Sirenza was once called "Stanford"
because one of their founders used to be a waterboy for Stanford
University's geek team. They lost a lawsuit, hence the name Sirenza.
Headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, with design centers in CA,
TX and AZ, they contract-manufacture a huge lineup of amplifiers
up though 8 GHz. We believe that some of their amplifiers are sold
to Mini-Circuits, where they are rebadged
and end up in that huge fold-out advertisement we all know and love
to recycle. Can't prove it though.
Sirenza's product line includes
a mixture of GaAs PHEMT, HFET, HBT, and more recently SiGe. If you
have cable TV, chances are you have Sirenza products in your home.
Skyworks was born of the merger between Conexant and Alpha Industries.
Conexant was once part of Rockwell International, and was not a
"MMIC company" in the sense that it did not process GaAs
chips, but offered signal processing for broadband communication
systems. Alpha Industries was more of a traditional foundry, offering
RF chip types for wireless commercial applications. Skyworks is
SKWS on the New York Stock Exchange.
Skyworks apparently has a six
inch fab in Woburn Massachusetts and a second six-inch line
in Newbury Park California, and partners with a fab in Taiwan. (Thanks
to Dan for pointing this out).
Alpha trivia: about 25 years
ago, Alpha was banned from participating in government contracts,
because they did some funny accounting! They were ahead of their
Hey Skyworks, congrats on winning
the 2004 Mexico City "Maquiladora
of the Year" award! Hope this cheers up all of your ex-employees
north of the border!
A new fabless company located in Fullerton CA, Summit has four employees
with experience in GaAs and well as SiGe. So far they don't have
any products they can show you on their web site, but they want
you to know that they have done designs up to 60 GHz in their past
lives. Their core experience came from Hughes and/or TRW back in
the day. We wish them the best of luck!
Scientific and Imaging LLC
Teledyne bought Rockwell Scientific in 2007,
hence the name change.
Located north of 40 miles north
of El Lay California, you are looking at a three hour round trip
from the airport if you want to visit Teledyne's boutique fab during
working hours. The specialty of the house is quasi-optic free-space
combining for millimeterwave circuits, which is very cool: the development
of cheap 20 to 100 watt sources for millimeterwaves has long been
one of the holy grails of microwave engineering. Teledyne has three
and four inch wafer processing capabilities, in four different III-V
flavors: GaAs, InP, GaN and InAs. They also have a process for antimonide-based
compound semiconductors (ABCS), for ultra-low power consumption
LNAs (demonstrated 1.5 mw per stage!) Teledyne is never going to
compete for cheap MMICs, but if you are looking to stretch the state
of the art, check them out. Like Agilent, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman
and BAE Systems, Teledyne no doubt would be more than happy to break
even on a good year at this research facility. Whoops, we almost
forgot to mention that Teledyne can integrate MEMS switches onto
PHEMT products. MEMS is not the "other
white meat" of microwaves, but rather, the "other
career killer". The original microwave career killer was
IMPATT diodes, as everyone knows.
A perfect example of Our Gang marketing
strategy, Thoughtbeam was founded by Motorola in 2001 to develop
and market GaAs on silicon wafers, an idea that dates back to the
1980s but has never made anyone a dime. Too bad the price of GaAs
came down when production ramped up, which made GaAs on silicon
a tough sell. It turns out GaAs on silicon is a relatively expensive
material to manufacture, due to the many extra hours it must spend
in material growth. The only thing that Thoughtbeam ever demonstrated
was some crummy MESFET technology in silicon, while the rest of
the world had moved on to much more versatile pHEMTs, which need
a much more complicated material stack that would be a lot harder
to push onto silicon. Did Motorola do the right thing and retire
the head of Thoughtbeam when they shuttered the operation? Nope,
in a Dilbert moment they promoted Thoughtbeam's leader Padmasree
Warrior to Chief Technology Officer of the entire Motorola company,
and basically hosed the rest of the team, except for the French
dude that reminded everyone that worked for him of Napoleon. Did
we mention yet that Motorola invented "six sigma"? Thanks
Precision Wafer Technology
A spin-off of Honeywell, TLC is a small-business innovation research
(SBIR) vendor located in Minneapolis, and has developed designs
up through W-band. A MMIC vendor with soul!
No matter how good Toshiba MMICs are, they don't get a link from
the Microwaves101 web site on account of their illegal
sale of propeller milling technology to the Russians back in
the 1980s, resulting in a steep drop in broadband acoustic noise
profiles for the Akula-class subs.
If you own a Toshiba TV, VCR,
or DVD payer, shame on you. Hell, why don't you just go ahead and
buy gas from Exxon, who cares?
Transcom is another GaAs foundry in Taiwan.
According to their web site they are capable of producing 15,000
wafers per year. Standard products cover up through Ku band. They
also sell packaged amplifier assemblies that use discrete FETs.
Update September 2011: TriQuint is closing their fab to commercial
fabless companies that compete with them. Maybe they are sick of
seeing Hittite's market cap at $1.6B with TriQuint $1.0B while they
do all the heavy lifting. See page 11 of Hittite's recent
We haven't confirmed this but
it is rumored that TriQuint is closing the fab to Mimix
Update June 2008: TriQuint
now offers GaN MMICs, and GaN foundry services, which they announced
at the IMS Symposium this month in Atlanta.
Also in 2008: TriQuint
acquired what was left of Watkins Johnson's MMIC line. Part numbers
starting with AG and EC (DC-6 GHz HBT amplifiers) are the legacy
Update December 2007:
TriQuint has been spreading a rumor that they are going to build
a 6 inch GaAs fab in Texas, open for business by 2010, presumably
to expand their military chip business. We're inclined to predict
that military business in Texas is going to start suffering in February
2009, just about the time that American Airlines files Chapter 11.
Good luck inviting Obama to the fab's grand opening.
There are two very different
halves to the TriQuint foundry. TriQuint "Classic" runs
a six -inch production line up in Beaverton Oregon, and was born
from Tektronix. TriQuint Dallas, with a six-inch
boutique line, was once part of Texas Instruments Defense Electronics
Group which was bought by Raytheon in the late 1990's. Uncle Sam
made Uncle Ray's place divest the TI GaAs foundry, for Important
Reasons of National Security (it's funny where Congress has
its priorities sometimes...) Say TriQuint slowly and you will see
the play on words, three combined with five, which signifies III-V
compound semiconductors, rating a 3.5 on the Unknown Editor's cleverity
index (ten is highest). Guess they will have to change their name
if they ever move into SiGe.
TriQuint often hires models to
"man" their booths at trade shows, adding a certain old-school
charm for all of the lonely microwave dudes out there who like to
meet girls from the yellow pages. We dig that leopard fur, and are
glad you are between gigs, Ginger Spice!
Hey Mr. Lonely
Microwave Geekster, do you want to know more
about TriQuint MMIC's mounting temperature?
TriQuint's MMIC web site is one
of the best, with a lot of data sheets and application notes and
now S-parameter downloads.
TriQuint's Oregon production
facility is a high-volume six-inch MESFET line which offers the
usual alphabet soup of wireless products for CDMA, PCS, GSM, DCS,
TDMA, etc. They offer foundry services with some pretty slick Spice
models for active devices, which allow you to generate S-parameters
for any bias point you like. Oregon part numbers all start with
"TQ", as opposed to the Texas parts which start with "TGA".
TGA stands somehow for Texas Instruments gallium arsenide monolithic
amplifier. "TIGAMA" presumably took up too many square
millimeters of precious GaAs. TGA is a throwback label to when the
TriQuint Texas GaAs Fab was part of the Texas Instruments Defense
Division (thanks for the clarification, anonymous TriQuint Dude!)
They started commercializing some of the GaAs products and wanted
to differentiate them from other TI semiconductors like the TTL
logic series. TriQuint (Texas) still uses a variety of TG labels
including TGB, TGL, TGP, TGS, TGC, TGF standing for different product
types (passive, attenuator/limiter, phase shifter, switch, control,
and discrete FET).
The TriQuint Texas boutique foundry
offers a much broader mix of technologies and applications than
TriQuint Oregon, spanning DC through millimeter-wave. They are also
known to be dabbling in gallium nitride. TriQuint Texas offers a
vertical PIN diode MMIC foundry process, which is (almost) unique
in the MMIC arena (everyone else gave up on this process because
it is truly a niche market). Whoops, we spoke too soon,
M/A-COM now offers a similar process! When you visit TriQuint
in Dallas, be sure to check out Bone Daddy's House of Smoke. It's
like Hooters, but with food you will actually enjoy!
Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC)
We're adding this silicon fab to our MMIC suppliers list, as TSMC
offers RF CMOS. Thanks to Mohan!
From TSMC'sweb site:
Established in 1987, TSMC
is the world's largest dedicated semiconductor foundry. As the
founder and leader of this industry, TSMC has built its reputation
on offering advanced wafer production processes and unparalleled
manufacturing efficiency. From its inception, TSMC has consistently
offered the foundry industry's leading technologies to its customers.
The company's manufacturing capacity exceeds 8 million 8-inch
equivalent wafers in 2007, while its revenues represent some 50%
of the dedicated foundry segment in the semiconductor industry.
TSMC operates two advanced
300mm wafer fabs, four 8-inch wafer fabs, and one 6-inch wafer
fab. Fab operations are centralized in Taiwan, primarily in the
Hsinchu Science Park and the Tainan Science Park. TSMC fabs are
also located in Camas, Washington (WaferTech), Singapore (SSMC,
a joint venture with NXP Semiconductors), and Shanghai, China.
Microelectronics Corporation (UMC)
We're adding this silicon fab
to our MMIC suppliers list, as UMC offers RF CMOS. Thanks to Mohan!
From UMC's web site:
UMC is a leading global
semiconductor foundry that provides advanced technology and manufacturing
services for applications spanning every major sector of the IC
industry. Founded in 1980 as Taiwan's first semiconductor company,
UMC is the world's foundry technology leader, consistently first-to-market
on advanced processes and possessing the highest number of semiconductor
patents in the industry. UMC's customer-driven foundry solutions
enable chip designers to leverage the strength of the company's
leading-edge processes, which include production-proven 65nm,
45/40nm, mixed signal/RFCMOS, and a wide range of specialty technologies.
The company employs approximately 12,000 people worldwide and
has an extensive network of service offices in Taiwan, Japan,
Singapore, Europe, and the United States to meet the needs of
its global clientele.
Monolithic Semiconductor (UMS)
The country that developed the venerable Maginot Line now offers
some pretty good millimeter-wave MMICs. Actually, UMS is a joint
venture between French and Germans. You can't make this stuff up.
What's next, are they going to move into the old Krup's cannon factory?
UMS's technologies are capable
of 100 GHz operation, and they are betting that automotive radar
will one day pay them back for all the money they've spent on their
four-inch fab line.
UMS offers a lot of LNA, power
amp, mixed-frequency products, with some surprisingly impressive
performance. They also have gallium nitride on their roadmap.
Want to know a secret? Hittite
processes many of their millimeterwave MMICs in the UMS foundry!
Don't tell them you heard that here!
Update October 2007: perhaps
Microwaves101 needs to be taken out behind the woodpile for comments
about the Maginot Line, according to this fan:
One is surprised that the
only thing you have to say about France is a comment on the ML,
far-fetched if anything, until one reminds oneself that you are
an American, therefore a moron who was brought up by peasants
who told him, bending over the cradle, that the French had a king,
Louis the XIVth, but no electricity.
As to the rest of your intellectually
indigent comment, the French and the Germans (and other European
partners on occasions) have come up with many a joint venture
since the end of WW2, including Europe, a space programme that
left the arrogant NASA in the dust, a commercial aircraft programme
which has not made the Old World more popular in Seattle, a number
of successful military hardware programmes, and, last but not
least, a movement which acted against the 2nd war in Irak in a
debate where decency disputed arrogance until the latter shamed
Uncle Sam by means of blatant military incompetence and body bags.
I looked at your juvenile
web page “Unknown Editor”.
I would be touching if you were not at the age where others have
grown up: you’re pathetic.
Stewart, a U.K microwave
Stewart brings up some excellent
points from his @usa.com email address that he no-doubt typed on
his Dell computer running Microsoft Windows prior to watching a
Hollywood DVD. Unfortunately, like Larry Flynt, the Unknown Editor
can't be fired for his lunatic rants. Speaking of Hollywood, Germany,
England and France, here's three "peasants" that we all
know and love, wouldn't have been a dream to have them all collaborate
in a movie?
US Monolithics is now Viasat Advanced Microwave
Products. Thanks to John!
This marketing jive came right
off their web site, in October 2008!
We offer monolithic semiconductor
design, millimeter wave MMICs, high power transceiver design,
high levels of functional integration, high-frequency packaging,
and design for low-cost manufacturing. Our capabilities cover
the full range of frequencies from L- to W-band and we’re agile
enough to meet commercial, military, and space requirements. An
array of packaging options fit different environmental and performance
needs. Flexibility in our production allows us to make one-time
unique products as well as cost-effective high volume products,
and everything in between.
A company with almost the same name as the one below!
Universal Semiconductor Technology, Inc. is where Mimix
Broadband disposed of the Celeritek foundry. Thanks to Arnold
for setting us straight!
We've recently added (August 2010) Vectrawave at the suggestion
of David from Down Under... and we shamelessly stole this info from
their web site...
VectraWave was founded in
2006 to provide OEM’s with a partner with well-rounded expertise
in the most advanced Microwave, RF and Optical/RF technologies
and design techniques. This unique combination of engineering
and manufacturing depth is the cornerstone of component designs
that enable improved system performance, lower manufacturing cost,
and accelerated time to market.
VectraWave is focused on
DC to millimeterwave single function to highly integrated semiconductors
and ASICs, system-in-package (SIP) modules, and multi-chip modules
(MCM) for microwave, RF and lightwave applications. SiP technology
is being embraced as an ideal solution for applications that demand
miniaturization with sophisticated functionality. SiP also provides
the added benefit of compatibility with die design changes and
integration of various die technologies (e.g., Si, GaAs, SiGe,
Update October 2007: the name Velocium may soon be retire, Northrop
has announced that Hittite will perform the
marketing operation of these MMICs...
Velocium's foundry was once part
of TRW, which was swallowed up by Northrop Grumman. Velocium offers
a lot of millimeterwave products through W-band, this is their forte.
Most of the catalog items are 0.15 micron PHEMT, but they have invested
heavily in indium phosphide (InP) technology for internal programs.
Velocium chips are expensive
for two reasons. They are processed on a three-inch fab line, and
there is little competition for W-band MMICs they can charge what
they want for now. In the future they will have a tough time with
competitors such as UMS.
Velocium is one of the first
MMIC vendors to advertise chips for the new "E-band" (70
to 90 GHz). Their HEMT product line has trouble mustering 4 dB of
gain per stage at 85 GHz, so don't expect double-digit efficiency
power amps here.
Advanced Microwave Products
ViaSat got into the MMIC field when they bought US
Viper another fabless MMIC company, with ties to the Newton Aycliffe (UK) fab that was bought by RFMD. founded by Drs. Mayock and Chan. The two had previously worked together at Filtronic Compound Semiconductors. Viper offers a surprising list of millimeter-wave MMICs to 94 GHz, including coverage of the commercial E-band. Established in 2008, they provide custom designs for clients as well as products. Thanks to
Lehane for the suggestion!
Our only question about Viper is: why not spell it "Vipre"? Show some pride in British misspelling, like litre, calibre, theatre, metre...
"Rumour" has it that Viper is quite familiar with Win Semi and TriQuint processes.
June 28, 2006 was the last day that Vitesse traded on NASDAQ. VTSS
was delisted but now trades over-the-counter.
This from Nameless Insider
#44... "Vitesse has accomplished some amazing things in
InP DHBTs (as participants in DARPA's TFAST program), with record
published performances (at CSICS 2005). Unlike many other InP houses
they really embraced DHBTs, and have what may be a very high yield,
scalable technology. They're offering 300 GHz DHBTs as a foundry
service. But they have some serious financial issues. I believe
that their biggest revenues from InP come from making lasers as
a foundry service for some partner (it was in their news), and it
seems that they make most of their money in physical layer products,
not from foundry. I'd bet good money that they'll ax InP soon, maybe
sell to BAE (TFAST partner). Pure speculation..."
If you are looking for a huge offshore foundry to produce your GaAs
chips at the lowest possible price, you should consider Win Semi.
WIN stands for "wireless
information networking". Strategic alliances with companies
like AWR and Plextek will help put Win Semi
on the map.
Two micron emitter HBT and 0.15
gate PHEMT process on six inch wafers ensures that any job up to
100 GHz can expect a production ready environment. All wafers are
fabbed in an ultra-clean class 10 environment by employees that
make less than the original United States minimum wage.
WJ is now part of TriQuint.
Update May 2008: TriQuint announced
it has completed
its acquisition of WJ. A startup named Amp Tech
bought the WJ foundry located in Milipitas California, TQNT didn't
want it to play with this collection of aging semiconductor equipment.
WJ is a descendent of the venerable
Watkins-Johnson company, located in San Jose and Milipitas CA, with
about 200 employees. They have preserved some market share in commercial
telecom and RFID industries, having divested from military stuff
during the 1990s (that piece of Watkins Johnson is now part of M/A-COM,
and soon to be part of Cobham). WJ offers gain-block amplifiers,
covering DC to 6 GHz, very similar to Mini-Circuits and RFMD's offerings,
but we are pretty sure that WJ processes at least some of the parts
on their own fab line. WJ offers MESFET designs (part numbers start
with AG), and HBT designs too (part numbers start with AH). The
cool thing about WJ is that they inherited about the best pile of
microwave application notes available on the planet, so be sure
to check out their web site!
Xpert is a supplier of epitaxially-grown GaAs wafers, in both four
and six inch diameters. They are located in Taiwan, no doubt a convenient
distance to Win Semi. They plan to double the capacity of their
4000 square foot facility to manufacture 3000 six-inch wafers per
month by the end of 2004. That's enough GaAs to easily tile the
roof of a good-sized house each year!
Here's a photo of one of Xpert's
six-inch GaAs wafers, which is an image of something that most MMIC
companies have never seen up close (thanks to Angela!)