Space market strong for ICs
Attendees this week at the 2008 IEEE Nuclear and Space Radiation Effects Conference (NSREC) , in Tucson, Ariz., -- held at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort -- reported that business is strong and the market is steady as she goes.
Most of the companies at the event produce radiation-hardened integrated circuits (ICs) for military and defense markets and in most cases say their business is growing faster than the market itself.
"The market is growing at about 6 percent" and Aeroflex's space business is performing at an even higher rate, said Tony Jordan, product line manager for Aeroflex Colorado Springs. The company recently purchased one of their IP processor suppliers -- Gaisler Research , which they announced at the event.
Jordan added that Aeroflex's commercial business is growing as well. They expect so see increased growth in Europe as a result of their Gaisler purchase, he said.
Ken O'Neil, director of military and aerospace marketing for Actel in Sunnyvale, Calif., echoed comments he made earlier in the year to me, saying that the company continues to see strong growth and is quite pleased with its successful presence on NASA's Phoenix Mars program.
Military systems designers are very excited by radiation-hardened optical components, noted Chuck Tabbert, vice president of sales and marketing at Ultra Communications in Vista, Calif. Photonics and optics are a lot of fun to work with, he added.
The frustrations I heard were nothing new -- headaches caused by import/export oversight, specifically the International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) regulations.
One company's official told me that while he understands the concern regarding sensitive technology, the myriad of autocratic hoops one has to go through to comply with ITAR makes it difficult to do business. He added that his company does not pursue international business as aggressively because it's not worth the complications caused by ITAR regulations.
Aside from the ITAR comments most exhibitors and attendees echoed Dale Robinette, marketing director for space, military, and hi-rel products at Peregrine Semiconductor in San Diego, Calif., who said "this is an exciting business," Peregrine has shown tremendous growth the last year -- around 70 percent.