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Taiwan GaAs supply chain, IDMs gearing up for Wi-Fi 6 boom

The Wi-Fi 6 penetration rate is likely to advance to 50-60% in 2021 with the latest wireless communication standard increasingly adopted for handsets, routers and notebooks, prompting Taiwan's IC designers and GaAs foundries to join forces with international IDMs to tap huge application opportunities, according to industry sources.

Taiwan's MediaTek and Realteak Semiconductor have their Wi-Fi chipsets paired with WiFi front-end modules (FEMs) designed by IDMs Skyworks and Qorvo for handset, router and CPE applications seeking to boost market shares in the segments, with Win Semiconductors reportedly contracted to fabricate RF and PA components for the modules, the sources said.

Another local IC designer RichWave now also supplies Wi-Fi FEMs for mobile phone and CPE applications, mainly for Chinese clients, with RF and PA fabricated by Advanced Wireless Semiconductor (AWSC) and packaged by Sigurd Microelectronics, the sources continued.

Both Win Semi and AWSC have boosted their monthly 6-inch GaAS foundry capacity to 41,000 and 15,000 epi wafers, respectively, aiming to better meet a rapid surge in demand for Wi-Fi 6 and 5G applications.

Notebooks, desktops, various CPE devices and handsets will be the most popular application outlets for Wi-Fi 6 wireless communication technology, the sources said, adding that besides RF IDMs, many international chipmakers including Qualcomm, NXP and Intel have jumped on the bandwagon to vie for growing lucrative opportunities in the 5G era.

As iPhone 12 series also adopt Wi-Fi 6 technology, many handset vendors are expected to follow suit in 2021, which will benefit Taiwan's related supply chain players including backend houses ASE Technology and Powertech Technology, interface solutions providers including Chunghua Precision Test Tech (CHPT), and III-V semiconductor firms, the sources said.