Most people working in the high power RF design arena think that they know a fair amount about high power RF products and the devices that comprise that market space. I am here to tell you that there are three relatively interesting and unknown facts about the high power RF product market that the consumers generally do not comprehend.
One common assumption is that the RF power market is all about the larger, above 100W, high power parts and those are the types of products that sell the best. Simply not true. In RF power, there is a large demand for a lot of low power, sub 5W devices, for drivers, pre-drivers and for signal management and control. About 25 percent of Freescale Semiconductor’s RF power device sales are for sub 5W, semi-low power amplifier components.
People tend to think that the RF power market is all about the high cost, gold plated, air cavity, flange mount ceramic packaged parts. False. Overmolded plastic packaged parts outsell ceramic devices at about a 4 to1 ratio. Currently, high power plastic is limited to about 300W CW but it is the approximately 20 percent lower price advantage of overmolded plastic that makes it so attractive, hence its larger market share.
People tend to believe that the RF power market is limited to a handful of devices in a limited range of power levels and package types. Wrong again. Freescale contains over 235 different RF power devices in their portfolio, including 21 different 100W parts at various frequencies and at least 45 parts with a P1dB rating at or below 10 watts.
This high granularity of the power level selection allows for fine degrees of design output power selection. In most RF amplifier designs, the selection of a device with an extra 10 percent larger power capabilities might make a lot of sense, from a design margin point of view. But when that excessive output power capability increases the cost of the design by 2 percent and reduces the DC to RF conversion efficiency of the design by another 2 percent, then those trade-offs are usually deemed unacceptable.
So there you have it. Three previously little know facts about the RF power market and now, presented here, the real inside scoop. Enjoy.
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