Qualcomm’s RF360 front-end device is not an immediate threat to GaAS-based PA suppliers like RFMD, Skyworks and TriQuint. Most don’t believe that CMOS based PAs are not ready to replace GaAS based PAs but Qualcomm’s announcement signals a viable alternative is coming.
The high level of integration of the RF360 is also a significant advantage. It not only includes a CMOS based multi-mode, multi-band PA, it also has integrated antenna tuning as well as envelop tracking ICs built in. Qualcomm’s use of a package on package (PoP) solution to launch its first RF front-end is also interesting and shows that they wanted to push a product with multiple ICs out first and then work on further integration later. See the complexity of implementing PoP packaging in the following picture.
I look forward to the day when more competitors are pushing the RF front end integration further and that truly monolithic solution with high quality and lower costs will be available.
- Murata Selects ANADIGICS 802.11ac FEIC for WiFi Module (sys-con.com)
- Explained: System on a Chip: what you need to know about SoCs (community.spiceworks.com)