MADISON, Wis. — Behind the Freescale-NXP mega-merger completed earlier this week was the emergence of Ampleon, NXP’s former RF business unit and now the world’s second largest RF power company.
Ampleon, headquartered in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, is now owned by the Chinese financial firm Jianguang Asset Management Co. Ltd. The company has kept its people, technology and fabs — lock, stock, barrel.
The divestiture of its RF business unit was the key for NXP to clear the regulatory hurdles necessary for its merger with Freescale. Formerly Freescale Semiconductor’s RF power amplifier business, which NXP has kept under the new NXP umbrella, is the world’s largest RF power house.
The Federal Trade Commission last month said that Freescale and NXP supply more than 60 percent of the market for manufacturing RF power amplifiers. Infineon Technologies AG is the only significant competitor.
Ampleon CEO Reinier Beltman
In a phone interview with EE Times this week, Reinier Beltman, CEO at Ampleon, enthused about the new opportunities emerging for RF technologies.
Currently, 70 percent of Ampleon’s revenue comes from delivering RF solutions to mobile baseband infrastructure. While that “historical” market segment — described by Beltman as “stable” — remains huge, many industry observers are keeping an eye on the emerging RF power market.
RF ovens coming
Beltman sees the future in a new business that goes beyond delivering radio signals over long distance (i.e. base stations and broadcast stations). He said, “We can use RF technology for short distance energy transfer,” which can give birth to new products such as RF microwave ovens and RF plasma lightbulbs.
Today, Ampleon is runner-up globally in supplying RF to cellular baseband stations, while it stands at number one for the broadcast market.
Asked which among the emerging RF applications Beltman thinks will become the next big thing for RF, he pointed out, without hesitation, “cooking.”
RF Market Forecast
Of course, Ampleon isn’t alone in gunning for such emerging markets.
At the Freescale Technology Forum earlier this year, Freescale — now NXP – talked about its vision for an RF oven, noting that the technology allows much more precise levels of emission by controlling cycles, locations and levels of cooking energy. The result is an oven capable of bringing food from frozen to cooked much more rapidly, while sensing the level of the food’s doneness.
While RF ovens probably won’t be on public display at the upcoming International Consumer Electronics Show next month, Ampleon’s Beltman expects RF-powered ovens to hit the professional and consumer markets between 2016 and 2017.
The former NXP RF group, now Ampleon, has taken a leadership role in co-founding RF Energy Alliance
, together with appliance partners including Whirlpool Corp. The group’s stated mission is to “standardize, promote and educate target audiences in solid-state RF energy systems as heating and power generators.”
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