Despite reports that 200,000 base stations would be deployed in China during 2013, production and deployment limitations of semiconductor suppliers will stretch those deliveries over an 18-month period. Updated base-station and transceiver forecasts released by Mobile Experts underscore this market disruption for China Mobile TD-LTE production.  At least part of this market impact stems from the migration of small-cell radio architectures into high-power macrocell radio heads.

The report from Mobile Experts, “Semiconductors in Remote Radio Heads,”  states that by 2018, more than 40% of remote-radio-head (RRH) units will utilize a multi-core system-on-a-chip (SoC) processor instead of the traditional field-programmable gate array (FPGA) or application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). The forecast also details key components including LDMOS devices, GaN devices, analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), digital-to-analog converters (DACs), analog quadrature modulators (AQMs), phase-locked loops, (PLLs), and low-noise amplifiers (LNAs).

The integration of these components and trends will be key in the deployment of new base stations, with Mobile Experts estimating the worth of the RRH semiconductor market at $2.5 billion. With the increased need for bandwidth, the playing field for RRH semiconductors is rapidly transforming from discrete semiconductors to low-cost, integrated semiconductors. The report also delves into the impact from the deployment of carrier aggregation and wideband radios.