In a superheterodyne radio receiver, the circuit between antenna and mixer is generally called as RF (Radio frequency) Front End Module. All the components that process original radio frequency signals before their conversion to IF (Immediate frequency) signals are included in it. It consists of Band Pass RF Filter, RF Amplifier, Local Oscillator, and Mixer. Band pass filter reduces image frequency response and out-of-band signals. RF Amplifier (Low noise amplifier) amplifies weak signals without noise contamination to increase receiver sensitivity. Local Oscillator is RF signal generator that is an offset of incoming signal. Mixer mixes the offset RF signal from Local oscillator with the incoming signal to convert it into Immediate Frequency signal. RF Front end module is called LND (Low-noise downconverter) & LNB (Low-noise block) in satellite or microwave receivers. In modern integrated wireless receivers like Wi-Fi receivers and cell phones RF front end includes all the components from antenna to ADC (Analog to digital converter) which digitizes the intermediate frequency. Silicon-germanium and Silicon are the technologies used to implement RF Front End module.
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Market for RF Front End Module can be segmented by components: RF Filters, RF Switches, RF Power Amplifiers, and others. Market can also be segmented based on application: Tablets, Smartphones, and PCs). Market is mainly dominated by RF filter segment. Being compact these filters can be fitted easily into smart phones etc. Smartphone segment dominates the market for RF Front end modules. RF Filters can minimize noise or interference in smartphones. This will augment its demand.
One of the major trends that has led to growth in the market is increase in next-generation wireless networks. Growing use of mobile communication devices further drives growth of RF Front End market. Rise in data traffic due to data-intensive industries like financial services is also key factor driving growth of this market. Another factor that is predicted to be accelerating market growth is emerging carrier aggregation which increases RF in tablets and smartphones. Concept of carrier aggregation is popular in South Korea and is being implemented in countries like U.S. Rise in Silicon-on-insulator technology (SOI) will also strengthen the market. Rising average time to travel has boosted the use of internet services thus indirectly impacting the RF Front End Market. Declining prices of mobile handsets is also a factor leading to growth in RF Front End market. Introduction of GPS (Global Positioning Systems) enabled handsets is also leading to larger market particularly in Europe and Asia-Pacific. Use of Bluetooth-enabled handsets is also driving the market. Increasing use of 2G and 3G services is also leading the market to grow. During the forecast period, these factors are expected to conjointly impact the growth of the market.
Key challenges faced by the market are huge investments for research and development. Another challenge for the market is technological innovation. One of the major challenges also includes increase in RF complexity because of the increasing numbers of bands per handset, and introduction of high frequency brands. Other Challenges include high space requirement of RF Antenna which is not available in smartphones.
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High penetration in the wireless market in Western Europe and Asia-Pacific makes them one of the major markets for RF Front End. South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore are the major markets in Asia-Pacific. China is also having a steep growth and is expected to be the largest market soon. Germany, Italy and UK are the major markets in Europe. In North America U.S. and Canada are the largest markets.
Key players in the market include Avago technologies, Qorvo, TDK, Skywork solutions. Other important vendors include Ams, Anadigicis, Murata Manufacturing, Akoustis Technologies, and MACOM.
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