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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

RF360 to be a major new player in the Internet of things

By Nick Flaherty

Qualcomm and TDK form Joint Venture for RF Front-End modules

Qualcomm and TDK have formed a joint venture for RF front-end (RFFE) modules and RF filters into fully integrated systems for mobile devices and fast-growing business segments, such as Internet of Things (IoT), drones, robotics, automotive applications and more.

TDK's highly integrated Rf module with diplexers
Majority owned by Qualcomm, RF360 will be nominally based in Singapore with its headquarters in Munich, Germany, and combine TDK’s capabilities in micro-acoustic RF filtering, packaging and module integration technologies and Qualcomm’s expertise in advanced wireless technologies to serve customers with leading-edge RF solutions into fully integrated systems.

In addition to creating RF360 Holdings, Qualcomm and TDK will expand their collaboration around key technology fields, including sensors and wireless charging.

“TDK is a leading electronic components manufacturer with cutting-edge expertise in RF filters and modules, and we are looking forward to deepening our collaboration and together accelerating innovation and better serving the ecosystem for next-generation mobile communications,” said Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm. “The joint venture’s RF filters will bolster Qualcomm RF360 front-end solutions to enable Qualcomm Technologies to deliver a truly complete solution to the ecosystem. This will enable us to expand our growth opportunity by allowing us to accelerate our strategy to provide OEMs across our business segments with fully integrated systems that will enable them to deliver at scale and on an accelerated timeframe.”

“The joint venture with Qualcomm is a win for both companies,” said Mr. Takehiro Kamigama, President and CEO of TDK. “This will further strengthen TDK’s position in key growth business segments and open new and exciting business opportunities. In this context, it was a major objective to ensure that our customers can continue to expect a seamless supply of discrete filters and duplexers, as well as modules.”

Module solutions will be essential to supporting this increasing complexity in the RF front end, with support for dozens of frequency bands for 2G, 3G and 4G LTE, while offering connectivity for wireless LAN, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, and more. In addition, the convergence of 4G mobile communications and the Iomeans that manufacturers of wireless solutions for mobile IoT devices must achieve new levels of miniaturization, integration and performance as well as add in 5G frequencies.

RF360 and QTI will design products from the modem/transceiver to the antenna in a fully integrated system using RF360's filters and filter technologies, including surface acoustic wave (SAW), temperature-compensated surface acoustic wave (TC-SAW) and bulk acoustic wave (BAW) to support the wide range of frequency bands being deployed in networks across the globe. 

RF360's modules will also include front-end components designed and developed by QTI using CMOS, SOI and GaAS Power Amplifiers, switches enhanced via the recent acquisition of Antenna Tuning and Envelope Tracking for power optimisation.

RF front end modules are a $18bn market by 2020, and even though TDK is a major player shipping over 25 million filter functions per day, it still is only $1bn of this. It holds design wins at all major handset OEMs, including leading premium tier smartphones, and TDK and RF360 say they are are committed to investing in capacity increases to meet the growing industry demand. 

In addition to the joint venture, Qualcomm and TDK have agreed to deepen their technological cooperation to cover a wide range of cutting-edge technologies for next-generation mobile communications, IoT and automotive applications, including passive components, batteries, wireless charging, sensors, MEMS and more.

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