Introduction

The Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMIC) and millimeter wave MMIC (mm MMIC) employ compound semiconductors that operate at higher frequency ranges to support data communication through signal amplification, attenuation, switching, mixing, and oscillation. The MMIC market has become matured over the past 3 decades and this report aims to provide an overview of the applications.

History

The precision required in the military technology led to the development of MMIC. The U.S Department of Defense initiated the Microwave/ Millimeter-Wave Monolithic Integrated Circuits (MIMIC) program in mid-1980s to develop integrated micro-wave devices for leadership in the industry. The result of the program was successful development of GaAs FETs that operated at high frequency and demonstrated low noise. The MIMIC program also enjoyed success in reducing the cost of GaAs devices, approximately by 85 to 88%. The MIMIC program was followed by Microwave and Analog Front End Technology (MAFET) program, which aimed to enhance the device capabilities while decreasing the cost and size of the chips to make it economically viable for the military as well as commercial applications. By the time MAFET program concluded successfully in 2000, MMIC started to find its applications in several commercial sectors.
Market Segmentation

Segment by Material: Gallium Arsenide (GaAs), Gallium Nitride (GaN), Indium Gallium Phosphide(InGaP), Silicon Carbide (SiC), Silicon Germanium (SiGe)

Segment by Technology: Metal Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor (MESFET), High Electron Mobility Transistor (HEMT), pseudomorphic High Electron Mobility Transistor (pHEMT), Enhanced pseudomorphic High Electron Mobility Transistor (E-pHEMT), metamorphic High Electron Mobility Transistor (mHEMT), Heterojunction Bipolar Transistor (HBT), Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS)

Segment by Components: Power Amplifiers, Low Noise Amplifiers, Attenuators, Switches (SPNT, NPMT, SPDT etc), Phase shifters, Mixers, Voltage Controlled Oscillators and Frequency mulitipliers.

Segment by Operating Frequency Range

Segment by Application

A broad segmentation of the current market: Smartphone Technologies, Wireless Communication Infrastructure, Automotive, Defense, Space

Applications Overview

Smartphone Technologies

The demand for data rate has increased significantly with advancements in the smartphone technology from 3G to 4G LTE-A. One of the critical components that help to match high wireless data speed with the higher bandwidth and spectral efficiency is the RF Front-end. The RF Front end houses several components including the RF MMIC Low Noise Amplifiers (LNA), Power Amplifiers (PAs), and switch and filters. The LNAs are available in E-pHEMT GaAs and Si:Ge technologies. The data rate is set to increase further in the future with the introduction of 5G, which will boost the market for MMIC in this sector.

Wireless Communication Infrastructure

Data consumption in the form of voice, data, and video streaming, upload, and download are ever increasing the advancements in the portable electronics technology. This demands the carriers to provide high-quality wireless communication infrastructure. To deal with this, carriers resort to provide higher bandwidth and micro or pico-cellular networking structure. The MMIC components such as switches play a vital role in achieving these challenging requirements. Furthermore, increased data requirements challenge the capacity of the backhauls. With 5G technology expected, microwave backhaul is the choice of carrier operators. These microwave backhauls will rely on the MMIC power amplifiers to deliver the requirement. Hence, MMIC has a huge market ahead with the need of increased wireless communication infrastructure.
Automotive

The Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system in automotive relies on the millimeter wave radar sensor technology for a safe commute. The millimeter wave technology is the choice of application in ACC owing to its resistance to fluctuation from the surroundings. The pHEMT GaAs type of MMIC is generally used in 77GHz long range radar system due to its low cost and proven reliability, while recently Si:Ge Technology is used in some 24 GHz short-range radar systems. Trend in the automobile sector is moving toward fully autonomous vehicles or self-driven ones, which will back heavily on the sensing systems. Developments in the Light Detection and Ranging system (LiDAR) for use in the futuristic automobiles suggest that GaN MMIC could be used for sensing. Therefore, the automotive sector is set to develop a strong foot-print for the MMIC market.

Defense

The dependence of situational awareness supporting systems in the military aircraft and naval carriers has been the driving force for MMIC primarily. Systems for radio communication and high-speed network such as WIN-T and radar system used in these technologies rely on the milli and microwave MMICs. GaAs and GaN technologies are usually employed in these systems which operate in the high-frequency W-band as well as low frequency S-band. The requirement of these technologies to operate at high frequencies will continue to drive the MMIC market in the future.

Conclusion

The MMIC market has grown significantly over the past 3 decades in a variety of sectors. The rising technological advancements and requirements in the consumer electronics, such as the need for high data rates in mobile communication and supporting wireless infrastructure, are expected to drive the market growth. Developments in sensing technologies suggest that MMIC will be used in LiDAR system, which could be applied in Automotive Self- Driving vehicles and Augmented Reality. In the Industrial sector, Machine-to-Machine wireless communication might see an implementation of MMICs which could further expand the market.

About Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

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