You know Avago, right? They're the company that grew out of HP's component division. The history behind the company is fairly interesting. HP developed instrumentation, printers, etc. They needed the enabling components and technology for these devices and in most cases, the components that were available were not up to the standards required by HP. Hence, they built it themselves. Before long, this group was selling these components to others, and thus, a division was formed, eventually becoming Avago.
The product categories that came from this group included optics, LEDs, Gallium-Arsenide, wireless, etc. A key to developing these innovative products and technologies goes beyond the products themselves. It's the patents that can open the right doors. In all, the company holds over 6000 patents.
“We continue to find traction in the handset space, especially with our BAW filters,” says Hock Tan, Avago's CEO. “We have developed a proprietary technology process called an FBAR. It's about acoustic wave resonance. In CDMA and increasingly in WCDMA, FBAR BAW filters provide better selectivity because they operate at a higher Q, more than two to three times the Q of a standard SAW filter. And we can do it for a cost premium that's not significant.”
Tan continues to search for other application areas where the FBAR can make a dent. Likely candidates include low-cost frequency generators, resonators, and oscillators. A silicon packaging process is used to produce the FBAR products. Up to 100,000 die can be packed onto a wafer.
One of the advantages that should be realized with the FBAR technology when utilized in handsets is the elimination of transmit and receive interstage filters thanks to a higher transmit-to-receive isolation. In addition, the lower insertion loss could conserve battery life.
Going to 4G (LTE) technology, FBAR supports the challenges associated with the new spectrum being allocated for LTE. Such challenges include dealing with the band plans that provide minimal center gap; a higher frequency spectrum; spectrum with nearby interferers; and simultaneous operation of multiple radios, such as GPS, cellular, WiFi, and Bluetooth.
Looking ahead into the crystal ball, Avago sees success for its power amplifier (PA) products. Tan says, “The high efficiency offered by our CoolPAM line has resonated well with the industry. Look for us to extend our PA technology into more areas, including EDGE, LTE, WiMAX, multimode, and multi-band multi-mode.”
Other potential growth areas include linear LNAs and driver amplifiers, support for backhaul, and even some filtering, all for infrastructure applications. Fiber-optic interconnects and transceivers for high speed data transfer also fall into the bailiwick of Avago. The company has developed a proprietary 120-Gbit/s bandwidth fiber can produce it at a highly competitive cost, less than $1/Gbit/s. It employs 12 lanes, each at 10 Gbits/s. The data is multiplexed and demultiplexed at each end of the cable.
The bottom line is that Avago is a company to be watched.