Cable’s – and the entire telecom industry’s – push to deliver more services and applications over existing networks is opening opportunities for companies like TriAccess Technologies, a privately funded fabless semiconductor company, which continues to upgrade its family of RF integrated circuits (RFICs) to meet amplification demands.

Most recently the company has added a general purpose, single-ended 75 ohm RF amplifier designed for up to 2.6 GHz bandwidth networks. The product was developed for cable networks as well as satellite receiver applications using 6-inch Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) pHEMT – that’s pseudomorphic high-electronic mobility transistor, in case you’re interested – technology to provide very low noise performance and low cost.

Additionally, the chipmaker introduced a push-pull cable amplifier designed for higher output applications like switched digital video edge QAM, MDUs and other fiber-deep receiver applications. Different strokes for different folks "The fiber-to-the-home parts would go inside an ONT that would hang on the side of the house and terminate the optical block in a fiber-to-the-home architecture," said Chris Day, president-CTO of TriAccess Technologies.

This is more for the telcos already whisking services over glassy pipes to premises. Cable is, some might say, still mired in a hybrid mix of fiber and coax, but Day, however, foresees a time in the not too distant future when cable will make use of this equipment as well. The other stuff TriAccess introduced, though, has a cable application.

"The general purpose parts can go in a variety of things," Day continued. "Edge QAM amplifiers are one; in-home applications or repeaters or drop amplifiers are other really attractive markets for us, as are lots of other signals and general amplification routing functions that aren’t of the level of a line amplifier, line extender, but you still need good RF performance in the 75 ohm part."

There are, he said, two emerging markets the company hopes to serve.

"Drop amplifier folks would clearly be a market for us," he said. "People who make equipment for headends, broadcast, edge QAM signals, that’s another set of customers. Potentially, people who make set-top boxes or DVRs that would need some (signal) splitting."

Just about anybody who needs a bandwidth boost can use the gear. When you have a single cable link feeding modems and phones and high definition TV sets, the universe of users expands exponentially.

"The need for switched digital video and edge QAM is a trend that we see as well as the multiplication of home terminal devices. It’s really hard if you have a coaxial plant that has so many dBmV per channel per drop and you have so much coming into the house," he explained. "All of a sudden, now you need additional RF to add more devices in the home, and you’re not going to go out and re-architect the mainline plant or change the splitters – you’ll bring in home amplifiers. The multiplication of home terminal devices means that the market for in-home amplifiers is a pretty good one." pHEMT makes the difference Using pHEMT – and you knew we’d get back to that, didn’t you? – is TriAccess’ technology differentiator.

"It’s the next step forward in technology; it’s the next step forward in GaAs," he said. – Jim Barthold

The Daily

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