While microwave and millimeter wave high-power vacuum electron devices (VEDs) remain “below the radar” of many industry observers, the total available market (TAM) for this segment is over US$1 billion, finds ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies.
Despite its size, and although these tubes remain essential elements in specialized military, scientific/medical, and space communications applications, this market is generally under-reported and poorly understood by those not directly involved in it.
Essentially, this continues to be a stable industry despite several rounds of consolidation in the past decade. “While, there is some potential for further consolidation, there are no signs of that happening yet. However, one competitive RF semiconductor technology – gallium nitride – will change the landscape. While it is not yet near monopolizing the microwave RF power industry, GaN is advancing steadily and is a technology that should be closely watched, as it will be a threat to some aspects of the microwave and millimeter wave VED marketplace,” said Lance Wilson, Research Director at ABI Research.
The size of this historic market continues to surprise and its longevity and firm resistance to RF power semiconductor encroachment is just as surprising; however, that will be changing to some degree as GaN devices move up in frequency and power.
“These specialized vacuum electron devices may at first seem anachronistic,” Wilson adds. “But in some cases, there is no other way to generate such high levels of RF power within an acceptably small space. Certain microwave and millimeter wave VEDs can generate megawatts, and it would take tens of thousands of transistors to do that.”
These findings are from ABI Research’s Microwave and Millimeter Wave High-Power Vacuum Electron Devices market data report. This report is part of the company’s 5G and Mobile Network Infrastructure research service, which includes research, data, and Executive Foresights.