An Optimized Solution for Mid-Level Broadband GaN RF Power Amplifiers

A generation ago, easy-to-use GaAs HBT based RF Gain Blocks changed the way RF engineers designed small signal amplifiers. That same evolution is now arriving in GaN technology with simple broadband solutions to medium power requirements in the 5 to 25 Watt range. This power range appears in a wide array of customer requirements, from output stages in broadband land-mobile and military handheld radios, small cell linear finals, to drivers in larger military, EW, and infrastructure power amplifiers. Entering the realm of power amplifiers though obviously brings new requirements and challenges, among them cost, size, power efficiency, and difficult thermal limitations that drive their electrical and package design. This paper will review conventional solutions, explore the tradeoffs between discrete and monolithic MMICs, and highlight the unique benefits of this new hybrid SMT solution.