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Solid-State Amps Haven't Replaced Tubes in Certain High-Power Microwave Applications

Wednesday ABI Research announced its market research found The Microwave Tube Market is Still Strong at Nearly $1B for 2012 as GaN Continues to be an Outside Threat. The report notes that, “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.” Lance Wilson, research director, commented, “The size of this historic market continues to surprise everyone and its longevity and firm resistance to RF power semiconductor encroachment is as surprising. These specialized vacuum electron devices may at first seem anachronistic, 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.”

The report notes that a solid state RF semiconductor technology, gallium nitride (GaN) may change the landscape “but has not yet done so to any meaningful scale.”The ABI Research report said, “GaN is advancing steadily and is a technology that should be closely watched, as it will continue to be a threat to some aspects of the microwave and millimeter wave VED marketplace.”

The results are from ABI Research's High-Power RF Active Devices Research Service which includes research reports and market data.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.