by Liam Griffin, President and CEO – Skyworks Solutions, Inc.
MPD: The defense market for RF and microwave components through subsystems appears to be more lucrative than in recent years, especially in the area of electronic warfare. If your company sells into the defense market, what are your thoughts about how it will perform in 2017?
Looking ahead, solutions that enable or enhance real-time communications such as radar, global positioning systems, electronic surveillance and countermeasure platforms, should continue to be in high demand. We also expect to see an increasing need for commercial off the shelf (COTS) solutions and high reliability devices, both of which allow the military to take advantage of technological advances, cost savings and rapid procurement. Further, we are addressing commercial opportunities in the private aerospace sector where there is a shift toward higher volume, high reliability, cost-effective satellite systems. Skyworks proudly enables wireless communication across virtually all of these applications.
MPD: The fifth generation of cellular is rapidly approaching and the immense scope of 5G seems almost certain to present significant opportunities for the RF and microwave industry. What is your perspective on this issue?
Without a doubt, there are tremendous RF and analog opportunities in 5G—commencing as early as 2017 with the rollout of smartphone features that require significantly higher data rates. In an effort to facilitate the explosive growth of data delivery, creation, movement and storage, our customers are implementing methods to improve performance via carrier aggregation, receive diversity, and MIMO functionality, among others. This dynamic involves a step function increase in levels of requisite analog and mixed signal performance, enhanced power efficiency and high precision filtering as well as configurable systems integration capabilities. We believe these factors play directly to the strengths of semiconductor companies like Skyworks who have the scale, broad product portfolio and systems expertise to resolve complexity with fully-integrated solutions.
MPD: The Internet of Things (IoT) might better be called the Wireless Internet of Things, as without RF and microwave technology, little could be accomplished. If your company is selling into this market, please provide your perspective on IoT and its prospects for the RF and microwave industry.
We agree—the wireless connection is the most critical function linking users to the incredible Internet of Things and Mobile ecosystems, transforming how we live, work and play. As virtual hubs for e-commerce, enterprise to the Cloud, social media, gaming and entertainment portals, mobile devices are rapidly evolving to address the massive demand for data and speed across an increasingly crowded spectrum. Further, as everyday objects become linked to each other, connectivity is moving beyond mobile devices toward the connected home and car, wearables, medical, machine-to-machine and industrial applications, setting the stage for an expanding set of new opportunities. At Skyworks, we are seamlessly enabling these applications with highly customized RF system solutions that address a broad set of wireless protocols. In short, the networking revolution and continuing trend for always-on connectivity is resulting in massive opportunities within the RF and microwave industry.
MPD: In your opinion, what are the RF and microwave technologies to watch in 2017?
As ubiquitous connectivity plays a bigger role in our daily lives—at home, in the office, or on the go—there is a commensurate level of analog and RF complexity that comes along with it. End users and OEMs demand solutions that preserve battery life, increase data rates, and ensure connectivity technologies work seamlessly, all while occupying minimal space. Meeting these design challenges requires the ability to address signal transmission and conditioning, filtering, tuning, power management, voltage regulation and battery-charging challenges. With this in mind, we believe that 2017 will see the continued acceleration towards integrated system solutions—whether for mobile devices or the Internet of Things—leveraging multiple wireless technologies and protocols spanning LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluteooth®, ZigBee® and emerging 5G standards. Keep in mind, fully tested and validated RF front-end solutions benefit everyone: they drive faster times-to-market, higher performance for customers and ultimately enhance the end user experience.