Filter suppliers have recently started to ship SAW and BAW filters with higher performance based on thin-film SAW and doped aluminum nitride BAW resonators, but this is just the start of what promises to be a momentous race in RF components for 5G, Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7.
As RF filter and front-end module suppliers rush to fill gaps in their product portfolios, they have in development a new generation of acoustic filters with higher operating frequencies and higher fractional bandwidths. OEMs want acoustic filters that will improve performance and reduce size for devices using the new 5G and Wi-Fi bands, and suppliers hope to maintain market share and continue to capture value as their traditional filters and module product lines mature.
Murata has licensed Resonant’s XBAR technology for new filter designs operating well above 2.7 GHz (read the story). XBAR should help Murata extend its dominance in SAW filters to the higher frequencies previously covered in the market mainly by Broadcom’s FBAR and Qorvo’s BAW filters, and beyond. Resonant’s XBAR uses different piezoelectric materials and entirely different resonator designs than the usual aluminum nitride-based FBAR and BAW filters. XBAR should allow Murata to launch new products and compete in the high bands (HB), and ultra-high bands (UHB) in cellular phones as well as in the new Wi-Fi 6E bands.
While extending the performance of its popular FBAR filters, Broadcom has developed a SAW piezo-on-silicon technology that allows integrating multiple low band SAW filters on one substrate. With this technology, Broadcom could expand its MB-HB module products downward in frequency to include low band (LB) capabilities and take share from competitors.
Companies in China have developed domestic supplies of SAW and doped FBAR filters, Akoustis Technologies now offers high-performance single-crystal BAW filters, and Qualcomm, Qorvo, Skyworks, Taiyo Yuden and a host of lower-share players have new filters in development.
With the importance of acoustic filters and all the R&D activity, it appears that the market for acoustic filters will remain vibrant at least well into 2030 when 6G makes its appearance.
Strategy Analytics has published a report on this segment. Click here to download the report. According to the report, Murata and Broadcom are well positioned to exploit new RF filter technologies for mobile phone as reported in Acoustic Filters: Critical to Future RF FE Integration (PPT), also available as a video presentation.
Christopher Taylor, author of the report, commented, “5G mobile devices with more bands at higher frequencies and higher bandwidths have created demand for new acoustic filters. Some of the companies that appear well-positioned to meet this demand include Resonant in partnership with Murata, Broadcom, Qorvo and Akoustis, each with its own approaches.”
Stephen Entwistle, VP of Strategic Technologies, added that “The number of acoustic RF filters shipping per year will double from 2020 to 2025 as shown in the report, and depending on the success of new filter technologies, companies in the RF front end will gain or lose share as they work to broaden their product portfolios. Today thin-film SAW and scandium-doped BAW filters have generated quite a bit of interest, but this will soon shift to even more advanced filters for 5G and Wi-Fi 6E.”
Source: Blog post by Strategy Analytics.