15 August 2022
“Developing our own ASIC is the only way to break the trade-off between power consumption, cost and performance in satcom antennas,” says Hanwha Phasor CEO Dongwan Yoo.
When Dongwan Yoo became Hanwha Phasor’s CEO this year, he undertook a strategic review of the business, including Hanwha Phasor’s ASIC Centre of Excellence in the UK’s Cambridge Science Park.
The Stanford MBA, who spent seven years in consulting for US firms and a further 16 with the Hanwha Group leading strategy and business development, quickly appreciated this critical technology asset.
“We want to build the best antenna on the market. To do that, we must develop our own integrated circuits to break the trade-off between power consumption, cost and performance. That’s what will set us apart from the competition.”
Accordingly, he plans to build up the existing team, targeting a select cadre of at least 20 individuals across design and layout. “We want to keep upgrading our products and our own ASICs will continue to be a core component of our Ku- and Ka-band variants.”
Dom Philpott, Hanwha Phasor’s Chief Operating Officer, is equally convinced about the necessity of the investment. He plays a vital role in the new management team, following a recent restructuring. Having been with the business since October 2020, he was promoted after building a fit-for-purpose supply chain and procurement function and securing a partnership with Plexus, a global specialist in manufacturing complex, highly regulated products. He has worked on electronics development programmes throughout a 30-year career, including defence products at Leonardo.
Philpott: “A COTS [commercial off-the-shelf] chip can only take you so far. If you have your own custom ASIC, you can really tackle the power consumption issues the satcom industry is very preoccupied with.
“Power consumption is set by the ASIC, and there’s little choice when it comes to low power options with COTS. It’s the same when it comes to the number of beams. Functional limits force you into an architecture that involves putting system-level features on PCBs as discrete components. We are not satisfied with that.
“With your own ASIC, you can change the game. We can include features such as chip monitoring, temperature, phase and wavelength shift and up and down conversion. Greater integration of system functionality leads to miniaturization, lower cost and greater reliability.”
In a stable, financial environment:
Philpott adds: “We’re focusing on antennas today for commercial aero and defence-based land applications and our parent Hanwha Systems is already bidding our antenna onto exciting Asian platforms. The market potential is huge.”