Taiwan makers strengthen components supply chain for 4G shift
Global Sources Electronic Components: Taiwan makers strengthen components supply chain for 4G shift
(True and honest 4G LTE as it was designed to be is around the horizon now, in order to allow for greater transmission loads)
Upstream suppliers brace for the demand rise as 4G gathers steam.
Taiwan’s electronic components industry is gearing up for the broadening penetration of 4G technology, which is projected to replace the mainstream 3G in mobile phones and Wi-Fi in portable computers. Suppliers predict IEEE 802.16m or WiMAX 2 and LTE-Advanced will supersede their earlier versions. The first two meet ITU requirements of 100Mbps for high-mobility communication such as from trains and cars, and 1Gbps for pedestrians and stationary users.
In the chipset category, Global Unichip is working on advanced manufacturing techniques based on the 28, 40, 65 and 90nm processes. It currently employs 3D single line-in package technology to develop 4G LTE baseband products. Via Telecom, a major supplier of 3G chipsets, is conducting R&D on the 4G equivalent. The other key local players in the line and related categories such as wireless modules and transceivers include MediaTek, Azurewave, GemTek and Microelectronics Technology. At present, Qualcomm leads the global chipset and processor market.
Companies that offer heterojunction bipolar transistors are looking to benefit from higher demand for application component power amplifiers. 4G’s use of more frequencies will require a greater number of the last. 2G mobile phones integrate one or two power amplifiers, 3G units have more than three and 4G handsets up to seven. The uptick extends to the rest of the components chain, which includes manufacturers of GaAs HBT wafers and power amplifier chips. Visual Photonics, VPEC, Advanced Wireless Semiconductor and Win Semiconductors are among the island’s major enterprises in the GaAs HBT wafer segment.
Makers of embedded and external WiMAX and LTE antennas, meanwhile, leverage their strong background in RF and wireless design and manufacturing. Wieson Technologies Co. Ltd, Wha Yu and Universal Microwave are among the key suppliers. The third offers micro- and millimeter-wave devices and antennas for both WiMAX and LTE base stations. Aside from these terminal applications, Wieson and Wha Yu have built-in and exterior antennas for routers and mobile PCs.
Enterprises producing high-frequency PCBs, including BoardTek and New Era, are also preparing for the 4G shift. Such boards are among the main inputs used in the manufacture of base stations and equipment. The anticipated upswing in 4G smartphones and tablet PCs, in turn, will benefit suppliers of flexible, rigid-flex and rigid PCBs.
LTE-Advanced is seen to lead the 4G switch. The former enables wider bandwidth reaching 100MHz. Its downlink and uplink transmission rates are 1Gbps and 500Mbps, higher than LTE Release 8’s 300Mbps and 75Mbps.
At present, mainland China and India are adopting TD-LTE. The former was scheduled to open the 2,500 to 2,690MHz spectrum with 190MHz bandwidth for LTE use in 4Q12 to encourage mobile phone companies to develop compliant products.
To speed up the transition, local suppliers are releasing dual-mode chipsets supporting 4G TD-LTE and 3G TD-SCDMA systems in 2013 for the mainland market. They will introduce variants compatible with TD-LTE and FDD-LTE later.
TD-LTE adopts mainly 2.3, 2.6 and 3.5GHz, and FDD-LTE 700, 800, 850, 1,800 and 2,600MHz.