John Greichen, VP of Sales and Marketing, Custom MMIC
MPD: What RF and microwave technologies do you feel will have the greatest impact in our industry overall between now and 2020?
Within the III-V semiconductor technology realm, Custom MMIC believes GaAs MMICs will continue to represent the great majority of the revenue, thus having the greatest business impact. Broader usage of GaN is certainly an active new technology gaining rapid market acceptance. GaN technology offers high power handling and high linearity benefits, which can help achieve some of the performance improvements desired by the defense industry. Most of the focus of GaN to date has been on high power amplifiers at RF frequencies for commercial communications applications. What’s next for amplifiers is a move to higher frequencies, well into the Ka and Q bands. GaN is now also being employed for different types of functions, such as LNAs, mixers and switches. Custom MMIC has been leading the way in this area, with 5W input power handling LNAs, Ka-Band GaN power amplifiers and now, high IP3 GaN mixers.
As a fabless designer/manufacturer of MMICs, Custom MMIC feels GaN technology offers significant opportunity, including space applications. But GaAs MMICs continue to provide value in many applications and will remain important for the foreseeable future.
MPD: We believe that the defense industry will retain its crucial importance to the RF and microwave industry regardless of overall DoD budget constraints. Do you agree with this statement? Either way, please explain your reasoning.
Custom MMIC would agree the global defense industry remains critical to the RF and microwave industry. The current U.S. administration appears ready to increase the DoD budget. An important DoD budget item is RDT&E (Research Development Test & Evaluation), which drives new technology into diverse programs across the military branches. In FY 2018, projected spending on RDT&E amounts to $83.7 billion, nicely up $13.2 billion (+18.1%) from FY 2017. An increasing percentage of the RDT&E spending relates to communications and radar systems. Vehicles, spacecraft, ships and aircraft programs are requiring improvements in capability and performance. Unmanned vehicles are a strong focus of multiple military branches, which require state of the art communications and radar capability.
Custom MMIC has been dedicated to serving the needs of EW and other defense/satellite electronics systems for over 11 years now. Our strength is in employing GaAs and GaN technology to create high performance MMICs. Our growing portfolio of GaAs and GaN MMICs is pushing the performance envelope to help solve the tough SWaP-C challenges facing our military and space customers. Custom MMIC also supports the R&D efforts of DARPA and other DOD and NASA research entities with innovative new MMIC technology developments. We employ III-V technology from a number of different foundry partners to achieve new levels of performance.