NXP sells RF MEMS unit to Epcos

Just weeks after deciding to fold its mobile-phone chip operation into a joint venture with STMicroelectronics, NXP Semiconductors has shed a further business unit. The Netherlands-based chipmaker is selling its radio-frequency MEMS unit to passive-component specialist Epcos.

“By acquiring NXP’s RF-MEMS activities, we are strengthening our competence in RF technology and are thus accelerating the transformation of our company from a manufacturer of discrete components to a systems provider,“ said Epcos president and CEO Gerhard Pegam. “By entering into the RF-MEMS business we are laying the foundation to benefit even more strongly from the growth dynamics of the mobile communications market in the future.“

Epcos said the RF MEMS technology would help reduce power consumption in handsets and provide opportunities to grow outside the RF sector, in applications such microphones as well as in pressure, acceleration and rotation-rate sensors.

Epcos said the driver for using RF MEMS technology is the rise of multistandard handsets. The transmit/receive unit and the antenna of today’s mobile phones are optimised to a specific frequency band. However, when the telephone is operated in other bands, such as in the 3G instead of the GSM bands, the transmit/receive unit is no longer optimally tuned. As a result, the phone consumes an unnecessary amount of power, ultimately reducing operating and standby times.

This can be prevented by the use of RF-MEMS. They allow the electrical path in the mobile phone between the antenna and transmit/receive unit to be tuned to the frequency band being used for signal transmission.

Image: The main market for RF MEMS lies in the transmit/receive path of mobile handsets

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