The RF Power Grid Vacuum Electron Device and Inductive Output Tube Markets are Still in the Game

28 Mar 2012

​The most legacy of markets in electronics today is still relevant and finding niches that solid-state RF devices are having trouble penetrating. The total available market (TAM) for these high-power RF devices is worth several hundred million dollars a year.

Despite its size, and although these tubes remain essential elements in specialized military, industrial, broadcast, scientific/energy, and medical applications, this market is generally under-reported and poorly understood by those not directly involved in it.

“Essentially, this is now a stable industry, after several rounds of consolidation in recent years,” says Lance Wilson, research director, RF components and systems.  “While there is potential for some further consolidation, there are no signs of that happening yet. RF power grid vacuum electron devices and inductive output tubes are fulfilling a century old legacy and although not the overwhelming market they once were, many end-use applications would be difficult if not impossible without them. The size of this market continues to surprise everyone and its longevity and firm resistance to RF power semiconductor encroachment is just as surprising.”

“These specialized vacuum electron devices may at first seem anachronistic,” Wilson adds. “But in some cases there is no other way to generate such high levels of RF power within an acceptably small space. Certain RF power grid VEDs can generate megawatts of power and it would take tens of thousands of transistors to do that.”

ABI Research’s recent study, “RF Power Grid Vacuum Electron Devices and Inductive Output Tubes,” examines the RF power grid vacuum electron device and inductive output tube market and assesses how these devices fit into a semiconductor-driven world.

It is part of ABI Research’s RF Power Devices Research Service.

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