Strategy Analytics has reported that 802.11n/ac with MU-MIMO will help propel the Wi-Fi market to 3 billion systems shipped in 2018, at the same time pushing the market for external RF power amplifiers for Wi-Fi up by more than 50 percent from 2013 sales, to the benefit of Skyworks, RFMD, TriQuint and other suppliers.
Based on a detailed analysis of Wi-Fi adoption and radio component architectures in 24 types of Wi-Fi systems, the report includes historical shipment estimates and specifications for the latest Wi-Fi radio SoCs and power amplifiers.
According to Christopher Taylor, Director, “The Wi-Fi SoC suppliers have worked hard to incorporate LNAs, PAs and RF switches on chip, but moving to smaller CMOS nodes and higher throughputs and linearity at 5 GHz for 802.11ac has made integration of the RF functions more challenging. As a consequence, many upcoming Wi-Fi devices will use external PAs over the next five years.”
According to Eric Higham, Director of the Strategy Analytics Advanced Semiconductor Applications service, “External CMOS PAs have started to compete with GaAs-based PAs in Wi-Fi just as in cellular, but GaAs will maintain its position for the foreseeable future, especially in higher-performance applications such as 802.11ac Wi-Fi infrastructure.”