Envelope Tracking (ET) adoption rates will soar, according to a recent forecast analysis published by Nujira. The company’s research predicts that the total market for ET will exceed 4 billion units a year by 2018, representing a $3 billion market opportunity over the next five years as ET becomes ubiquitous across the 4G smartphone market.
Since the launch of the first ET-enabled phone in 2013 the market has expanded rapidly with ET technology now featured in 15 flagship LTE phones from Apple, Samsung, LG/Google, HTC, Sony, ZTE and Amazon, with others in the pipeline. Nujira expects that those phones alone will account for around 125 million unit shipments of ET chips in 2014. In the next two years ET adoption is expected to cascade down from high-end smartphones to the mid-tier sector, which together are forecast by Strategy Analytics to surpass a billion units by 2016.
Nujira also expects that further opportunities will emerge for ET technology in WiFi, driven largely by the new high data rate 802.11ac standard. Today’s WiFi PAs achieve less than 10% energy efficiency, and the market is ripe for high bandwidth ET solutions which can cut current consumption by 75%. Nujira anticipates that the first ET-enabled WiFi solutions will be shipping in 2016, with rapid adoption by 2018 across access points, smartphones, and “Internet of Things” applications – a potential market of 2 billion units a year.
Speaking about the forecast, Tim Haynes, CEO of Nujira said: “The adoption of ET this year into all flagship smartphones shows that key OEMs have recognised the value of integrating ET into their devices. The continued roll-out of 4G LTE networks, including TD-LTE in China and the move to LTE-Advanced, will further reinforce the requirement for ET across the world.”
Alongside the product-level benefits of increased battery life, reduced heat dissipation, and better signal coverage, ET is a vital enabling technology for CMOS PAs. Nujira believes CMOS PAs will show significant growth over the next 5 years, driven by lower cost, higher front-end integration levels, and supply chain consolidation. By 2018, Nujira believes that component level integration of ET functionality with the CMOS ET PA will enable adoption in cost- driven 4G/LTE markets such as M2M/IoT and low-end smartphones, as well as performance driven applications such as 802.11ac WiFi.
Christopher Taylor, Director of the RF & Wireless Components advisory service at Strategy Analytics commented: “With widespread adoption this year, mobile device manufacturers are waking up to the potential of ET. The report from Nujira paints an interesting picture of the changing landscape of the RF front-end market. It’s clear to see that whether as a standalone chip, integrated with a CMOS PA, or ultimately into the cellular chipset, ET will rapidly become a critical enabling technology for the next generation of high data rate wireless communications.”