Advancements in Defense and Introduction of 5G to Propel RF GaN Market Past $1 Billion by 2022

With GaN seeing quick adoption across range of RF applications, the RF GaN market showed continued acceleration in the year 2017, recording a 38% increase in revenues year-over-year. The forecast was reported in a recent Strategy Analytics Strategic Component Applications (SCA) group report, RF GaN Market Update: 2017 – 2022.

The rollout of commercial wireless infrastructure coupled with demand from military radar, electronic warfare and communications applications provide the primary drivers for growth, with RF GaN revenues pushing past the $1 billion milestone by the end of the forecast timeframe i.e. 2022. RF GaN demand from the military sector grew by 72 percent year-on-year in 2017, and will grow at a CAAGR (compound annual average growth rate) of 22 percent through 2022. The military radar segment will remain the largest user of GaN devices for the defense sector. Substantial production activity in AESA radars for land-based and naval systems in particular is driving increasing demand for RF GaN, as many systems previously in development move to production.

According to Asif Anwar, Director of the Advanced Defense Systems (ADS) service, the demand from military radar, operational requirements to operate in contested and congested environments, as well as being able to counter modern agile radar and communications, will drive opportunities for RF GaN for the Electronic Warfare (EW) market. Communicating voice, data and video simultaneously and securely over wider and higher bandwidths in an increasingly complex spectrum environment will underpin trends for military communications system design.

Wireless base stations continue to be the single largest revenue segment for RF GaN, with increasing penetration translating to year-on-year growth of more than 20%. While the big lift from Chinese LTE deployments is over, the wireless industry has done a very good job of maintaining and in some cases, compressing the 5G deployment schedule. The resulting 5G base station deployment will become a primary commercial growth driver for RF GaN.

According to Eric Higham, Service Director, Advanced Semiconductor Applications (ASA) service, GaN improves high frequency, instantaneous bandwidth, linearity and environmental performance capabilities and this allows equipment manufacturers to develop higher capacity, higher power and higher performance radios. 5G deployment will drive opportunities for GaN on multiple fronts, with demand coming from both fixed and mobile applications, operating below 6 GHz, as well as in Ka-band and higher millimeter wave frequency bands. Opportunities are also growing for RF GaN devices in wireless backhaul and VSAT with increased traction in the adjacent RF Energy market too.

Qorvo saw good growth in their defense-related GaN revenue to maintain the market leader spot, widening the gap over rivals competing in the defense sector including captive suppliers such as Raytheon and Northrop Grumman. Sumitomo Electric Device Innovations (SEDI) continued to be the leading supplier of the overall RF GaN market in 2017, based largely on its dominant position in the base station market, with Wolfspeed, A Cree Company, maintaining second place.

The future continues to look promising for RF GaN adoption, even as growth drivers remain in flux. Strategy Analytics forecasts RF GaN revenue will cross the $1 billion barrier by 2022, with defense sector demand slightly greater than commercial revenue.

Click here to read the Strategy Analytics Strategic Component Applications (SCA) group report, RF GaN Market Update: 2017 – 2022.