SAN FRANCISCO—Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s Galaxy Appeal smartphone is among the first mass-produced 3G handsets to feature a high-performance CMOS power amplifier (PA), marking what may be an important market shift from gallium arsenide (GaAs) in 3G phones, according to market research firm ABI Research.
CMOS power amplifiers have long been featured in 2G handsets, but concerns over performance have limited their penetration in the 3G domain, according to ABI. But new products such as the J5501 BI PA from Javelin Semiconductor Inc. found in the Galaxy Appeal could challenge GaAs-based PA incumbents from the likes of Avago Technologies LLC, TriQuint Semiconductor Inc., RF Micro Devices Inc., Skyworks Solutions Inc. and Anadigics Inc., according to ABI (Oyster Bay, N.Y.).
According to Jim Mielke, vice president of ABI, said Javelin's J5501 has more than three times the die size of a typical GaAs PA. But Mielke said the lower wafer costs, simpler packaging and added digital content to reduce the test time of CMOS PAs enable the devices to compete with GaAs PAs in both cost and performance.
Still, Mielke said he expects the market share for CMOS PAs in 3G phones to be in the single digits next year. "The CMOS PA market volumes could be even higher if Qualcomm is successful with their penta-band CMOS PA they are actively presenting now," Mielke said.
ABI said it performed product test of the Galaxy Appeal and the Javelin J5501 BI and concluded that CMOS PAs match GaAs efficiency across all power levels up to 22.5 dBm. Both CMOS and GaAs PAs can be manufactured for under 40 cents, ABI said.
In a recent teardown analysis on Samsung's Galaxy S3 E210S, ABI found that Samsung has begun using internally developed modems in the place of modem chips made by the likes of Qualcomm Inc. and Intel Inc.