At the Forefront of Industry Growth and TechnologyInnovative technologies and an unshakable commitment to quality have made RF Micro Devices a major force in wireless telecommunications. This North Carolina manufacturer entered the RFIC field ten years ago; today, RFMD offers the broadest range of standard RF components on the market. RFMD's product offering grows constantly, and the company's five-year growth rate exceeds 3,000%.
RFMD® executives attribute the company's industrywide reputation and unprecedented growth to a simple three-part production philosophy: minimize component count reduce cost, size and weight increase reliability.
"We've earned our reputation by designing, testing and introducing innovative products to market quickly," said Jerry Neal, executive vice president of sales, marketing and strategic development. "We can offer the best possible combination of price, power and performance because our engineers know what the industry needs and what the technology can deliver."
Matching Technology to Product
Only RFMD offers multiple and diverse process technologies for RFIC applications Gallium Arsenide Heterojunction Bipolar Transistor (GaAs HBT), Silicon Bipolar Junction Transistor (Si BJT), Silicon BiCMOS, Silicon CMOS, GaAs MESFET and Silicon Germanium (SiGe). Design engineers review component specifications, then match those requirements to a technology that will deliver maximum performance at minimum cost.
"This Optimum Technology Matching® methodology is ours exclusively," said William J. Pratt, RFMD's chairman and chief technology officer. "We don't allow the limits of any one technology to hinder us or slow down client production. We use OTM, we combine technologies, and we streamline design and testing. We get products off the drawing board and into the marketplace."
RF Micro Devices recently announced that it intends to develop and manufacture integrated circuits utilizing Indium Phosphide (InP), a next-generation semiconductor process technology.
Indium Phosphide has the superior performance characteristics required for future, ultra high-data-rate applications over fiber-optic networks and provides for improved efficiency, smaller size and lower operating voltages in wireless applications, especially power amplifiers.
The addition of Indium Phosphide leverages key competitive strengths and enhances RFMD's OTM strategy.
RFMD furthers its strategy to integrate the Total Radio(tm) (the integration of the entire radio section of any wireless device onto a single module).
Mixed-Signal Design and Integration
A technical approach unique to RFMD utilizes mixed RF signals. Engineers put precision analog circuitry to work in conjunction with digital circuits. Compatible interface technology permits analog functions on primarily digital chips, and vice-versa; the resulting integrated circuits operate from a single digital-type power supply.
RFMD's on-chip integrated functions replace specialized microwave devices that cost time and money. Since chips feature integrated function and system design, engineers can create wireless versions of their designs without devising complex RF circuitry.
Each highly integrated package is a multi-function miniature system. Components are designed with inherent flexibility; the same product can be used in varied applications without modification. Mixed-signal ICs integrate smoothly with DSP technology, paving the way for wireless products previously considered impractical because of performance, size or cost limitations.
RF Micro Devices recently announced the establishment of an integrated multi-chip module assembly facility to complement the company's current wafer fabrication and testing capacity. This assembly facility is expected to enhance current supply services, add much-needed capacity, reduce costs and improve cycle times while maintaining high quality standards.
The automated production line contains all required technologies to assemble multi-chip modules (MCMs), including surface mount device (SMD) attachment, die-attach, wirebond, encapsulation, singulation and marking. MCMs combine the chip and supporting circuitry, including passive components, into an integrated modular package, which dramatically reduces the external parts required in the customer's application circuit.
Design, Development and Testing
From schematic capture and simulation to design rule checking and parametric feedback, RFMD implements state-of-the-art CAD/CAE tools to ensure product performance. To save time and increase efficiency, RFMD engineers develop and evaluate all prototypes in the company's own testing facilities. For any off-site testing, RFMD offers custom demo boards, application notes and supporting documentation.
Powerful Products, Multiple Markets
The RFMD line covers all receive and transmit functions. Standard and custom products include low noise amplifiers/mixers, quadrature modulators, high dynamic range low noise amplifiers/mixers, gain-controlled IF amplifiers, quadrature demodulators, linear power amplifiers, spread spectrum transmitters/receivers, gain block amplifiers, UHF programmable attenuators and combination oscillator/buffer amplifiers.
RFMD products serve varied RFIC markets, ranging from cellular telephones to wireless security devices. Applications include cellular and PCS phones, cordless phones, wireless LANs, wireless local loop handsets, industrial radios, wireless security systems and remote meter readers. With recent expansion into broadband products, RFMD expects to extend the benefits of its Optimum Technology Matching approach to areas such as cable modems, set-top boxes, CATV line amplifiers, etc.
To ensure cost efficiency and reliable performance, RFMD utilizes fully automated offshore packaging processes, as well as exhaustive on-site automated testing. Whether a design calls for one of the company's standard SOIC configurations or a custom package, RFMD can deliver high-volume lots for commercial and consumer markets.
Two Companies, One Goal
In 1996, RFMD formed an alliance with industry leader TRW. RFMD received exclusive license to develop chips for the wireless market using TRW's advanced enabling technology - heterojunction bipolar transistor technology. Previously used in sensitive military situations, HBT is the optimum process for many wireless applications because it delivers higher performance at a lower cost than other known processes.
World's Largest GaAs Fab
RFMD's existing fabrication facility, located on the RFMD corporate headquarters campus, is the world's largest GaAs HBT production site, producing approximately 60,000 to 70,000 gallium arsenide wafers per year at full capacity. RFMD expects to add an additional 60,000 wafers per year in capacity from the first phase of its second wafer fabrication facility, which began construction in September 1999 and is expected to begin production in mid-2001. At full capacity, the first and second wafer fabrication facilities are expected to combine to supply the equivalent of approximately 270,000 four-inch wafers per year.
Future Demands More Power
Industry experts predict that the next generation of RFICs must incorporate features to meet the increasing demands of personal communications networks and other high frequency, multipurpose applications.
"We're ready" said Neal. "RFMD will be at the forefront of industry growth, providing the most technologically superior cost-effective products available anywhere."
"We will be the premier wireless communications company on the planet."
7628 Thorndike Road
Greensboro, NC 27409-9421
Tel: (336) 664-1233
Fax: (336) 931-7454
RFMD®, Optimum Technology Matching®, Total Radio and ©2001, RF Micro Devices, Inc.