CMOS vs SOI vs GaAs — What is the Best Technology for RF and mm-Wave PA Design?

Power Amplifiers (PA), switches and phase shifters can all be integrated into one silicon RF-Front-End (RFFE) IC for RF and mm-wave 5G. However, the advantages in costs, robustness, and manufacturability for an all-silicon RFFE IC approach is not yet clear, when compared to a hybrid III-V/silicon solution for 5G. GaN-GaAs III-V based PAs have high output power and good efficiency vs. those of silicon-based PAs. At the same time, hybrid integration approaches increase rapidly in cost as complexity increases. Can newer technologies enable an all-silicon RF front-end that can match the performance of hybrid solutions? As we go to mm-wave frequencies, achieving high efficiency and linearity simultaneously for the PA becomes extremely challenging, and novel RF linearization techniques are required to improve these 5G mm-wave PAs. In this talk, we will discuss the pros and cons of different technologies for efficient PA design.