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4D Millimeter-wave Radar Brings significant growth to the PCB and CCL

With the introduction of a new generation of autonomous driving platform by Tesla Motors in the United States, which may be equipped with a high-resolution 4D millimeter-wave radar (76-77GHz), the necessity role of millimeter-wave radar has been reaffirmed.

Compared with cameras and lidars, millimeter-wave radars can provide more information (eg: speed measurement), strong anti-interference ability (eg: severe weather), and longer range (250m). 4D millimeter-wave radar will bring significant growth to the PCB/CCL segment.

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4D millimeter-wave radar gradually becomes the “main force” role in ADAS

4D millimeter-wave radar gradually becomes the "main force" role in ADAS
4D millimeter-wave radar gradually becomes the “main force” role in ADAS

In the past, there were large performance defects in millimeter-wave radars. The 4D millimeter-wave radars introduced at this stage have solved the defects to a certain extent, including adding height information (increasing longitudinal antennas), improving angular resolution (through cascading, dedicated Chip development, software, increase the number of antennas), and the amount of data is sufficient to achieve the imaging effect. Therefore, the 4D millimeter-wave radar gradually becomes the “main force” role in ADAS from the previous “assist” role.

It is estimated that the compound growth rate of the global 4D millimeter-wave radar market in 2325 will be 70.69%. By 2025, the global market size will reach 11.2 billion yuan, accounting for 18.6% of the market value of millimeter-wave radar.

4D millimeter-wave radar promotes high-frequency and high-speed PCB or CCL value increase

4D millimeter-wave radar promotes high-frequency and high-speed PCB or CCL value increase
4D millimeter-wave radar promotes high-frequency and high-speed PCB or CCL value increase

From the perspective of structure, 4D millimeter wave radar can be mainly divided into transmitting module, receiving module, processing module and housing. The transmitting module includes antenna and synthesizer (oscillator), and the receiving module includes low noise amplifier (LNA), mixer, Digital-to-analog converter (ADC), etc., The processing module mainly carries the processing chip (MCU/DSP/FPGA).

Based on hardware form, the transmitting module, receiving module and processing module basically realize the corresponding functions through the PCB. The upgrading of millimeter-wave radar from traditional to 4D imaging radar will also bring about an increase in the value of PCB/CCL as the basic carrier.

Regardless of whether the 4D millimeter-wave imaging radar adopts “cascading + MIMO”, a dedicated chip or a software-enabled solution, the essence of the result is that the quantity and quality of the radar’s sending and receiving information are significantly improved. This also improves the integration of the RF front-end (transmitting module and receiving module) responsible for signal transmission and reception, and the PCB board that carries the signal will also change.

(1)The number of PCB layers increases.
Due to the increase in the data volume of the 4D millimeter-wave imaging radar, the signals to be processed by the PCB board also increase significantly. It is necessary to provide sufficient lines by increasing the number of layers. The number of layers of traditional millimeter-wave radar RF boards will increase from the previous 6 layers to 8-10 layers.

(2)CCL material upgrade.
Millimeter-wave radar needs to receive and transmit high-frequency signals, so high-frequency CCL materials are required as the frontier carrier for information reception and transmission. Whether it is traditional millimeter-wave radar or 4D millimeter-wave imaging radar, 77GHz mainstream solutions are set two high-frequency layers, and the material used is PTFE (24GHz scheme or PPO material scheme).

But the difference is that the high-frequency PTFE material used in traditional millimeter-wave radar is relatively primary (such as RO4850/RO4350), and the high-frequency PTFE used in 4D millimeter-wave imaging radar is relatively high-grade (such as RO3003/RO3006). The unit price of the latter material is 3 times that of the former. The material value upgrades open up space.

Under the trend of increasing RF board area, increasing the number of layers, and upgrading CCL materials, it is calculated that the PCB value of 4D millimeter-wave imaging radar RF boards has increased to 5-8 times that of traditional millimeter-wave radars, and the value of CCL has increased to 5-8 times that of traditional solutions. Thus, 4D millimeter-wave imaging radar brings significant value increment to PCB/CCL.

4D millimeter-wave radar plays an indispensable role in the automatic driving of automobiles. This year, when Tesla, a world-renowned OEM, is about to launch a model equipped with 4D millimeter-wave imaging radar, is expected to be the first year when 4D millimeter-wave imaging radar begins to penetrate rapidly.

In this context, although the PCB/CCL market space is limited, it deserves high attention because:
1) The value increment of PCB/CCL is significantly higher than the increment of millimeter-wave radar. Compared with traditional solutions, PCB/CCL value which is much higher than the value increase of millimeter-wave radar itself ( an increase of 2~3 times).

2)Chinese PCB/CCL manufacturers have a relative stable market. Many PCB manufacturers have been focusing on wave radar for a long time. Although the market space is relatively limited, the rapid growth will bring direct impact to PCB/CCL industry chain companies.

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