III-V semiconductor suppliers & IC inspection labs poised to embrace LEO satellite business

Julian Ho, Taipei; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES Asia 0


With its importance significantly highlighted during the Russia-Ukraine war, low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications will usher in enormous business opportunities for III-V compound semiconductors suppliers, space electronic components analysis and verification services, and other related supply chain players, according to industry sources.

GaAs foundry Win Semiconductors chairman Dennis Chen has said that LEO communications combing AIoT applications will provide huge business potentials for compound semiconductor supply chain players. For more than 10 years, the sources said, the company has been engaged in making GaN-on SiC RF components used in satellite communication base stations.

As satellite communications plays a critical role in combining ground communications and AIoT applications, many Taiwan-based components suppliers are aggressively moving to build a presence in satellite communication supply chain. They include Transcom, dedicated to niche-type compound semiconductor components for military applications; Universal Microwave Technology (UMT), specialized in providing microwave/mmWave high frequency passive communication components and antennas; and Tong Hsing Electronic Industries, a backend house focusing on packaging CMOS image sensors (CIS) and satellite communication modules.

Whether serving as the extension of smartphone, 5G and even 6G communications or bolstering the trend of 'future cars' moving toward autonomous driving and IoV (Internet of Vehicles), LEO communication and space technologies will boast immense application potential, attracting more tech players to strengthen relevant deployments, industry sources indicated.

At the moment, China, the US, Japan and the EU are all actively developing their chip autonomy capability. China, in particular, is investing heavily to build its own supply chains for both silicon-based semiconductors and third-generation compound semiconductors, while also continuing to deepen deployments in quantum computing and space technologies, significantly adding order momentum to IC analysis and inspection specialists, the sources said.

They continued that the demand for space electronic component analysis and verification services has officially emerged, and service suppliers, including Taiwan's Integrated Service Technology (iST), are now already capable of providing complete validation and testing packages to help clients more easily tap into the space technology domain.

iST has just signed a momentum of understanding (MOU) for cooperation with the Taiwan Space Agency (TASA), aiming to enhance validation planning and testing, help makers obtain space certifications for their components and modules, and shorten their time for entering the space industry and market.