Orbotech Ltd. (NASDAQ: ORBK) today announced that SPTS Technologies, an Orbotech company and a supplier of advanced wafer processing solutions for the global semiconductor and related industries, has received approximately $37M in orders for multiple etch and deposition systems from two GaAs foundry customers. SPTS’s Omega plasma etch, Delta PECVD, and Sigma PVD systems will be used to manufacture radio frequency (RF) devices for 4G and emerging 5G wireless infrastructure and mobile device markets. Delivery of the systems is expected to be split between the first quarter and second quarter of 2018.
“Compound semiconductor electronic devices based on gallium arsenide (GaAs) are the cornerstone of high speed wireless communications,” stated Kevin Crofton, Corporate Executive Vice President at Orbotech and President of SPTS Technologies. “RF devices are entering another exciting phase of growth with the proliferation of 4G mobile communications and preparation for 5G. IDMs and foundries are looking to add capacity to existing fabs to meet the growing demand, while new entrants are establishing new lines to address future demand for the 5G rollout. Our lead customer has been at the forefront of GaAs foundry services for almost two decades, and their repeat orders are a testament to the production advantages that our etch and deposition solutions continue to deliver to their core business.”
Power amplifiers (PAs) are among the most critical RF components in mobile communications and virtually all PAs in a modern smartphone are made from circuits built on GaAs semiconductors. Analysts are predicting that the growth of 4G communications, gigabit LTE (Long Term Evolution) and emerging 5G will be the growth engine to drive the RF GaAs device market from over $8.1 billion in 2017 to over $9 billion by 2021.
“Our latest forecast shows that PAs for cellular applications will continue to account for more than half of the RF GaAs device market,” noted Eric Higham, Director of the Advanced Semiconductor Applications service at Strategy Analytics. He added, “Despite smartphone growth slowing, the added complexity in mobile devices to support gigabit LTE and the emergence of 5G points to continuing growth in RF GaAs production.”