Solid State Power Amplifiers (SSPAs) are realized using semiconductor devices that are power combined to achieve very high power levels. This is opposed to power amplifiers realized using Traveling Wave Tube (TWT) amplifiers.

Longer Time to Failure

SSPAs are much more reliable. It turns out that TWT amplifiers can have lifetimes that are as short as a few thousand hours. This means that for some applications, the TWT must be replaced every 9-18 months. SSPAs, on the other hand, can have a mean time to failure that is 20 years or longer. This improvement in reliability is one of the main reasons that SSPAs are attractive. 

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SSPAs Have Much Shorter Procurement Lead Times

It is very common for TWT amplifiers to require 6-9 months for delivery. Is presents a challenge for procurement and operational management. Third, SSPAs require lower bias voltages. This means that the power supplies that drive them are more reliable compared to TWTs. TWT power supplier are low reliability due to the need for high power capacitors which are prone to failure. For these three reasons, SSPAs are an attractive option for new systems.


Here are some frequently asked questions about SSPAs. If you have a specific question please reach out to us here and we’d be more than happy to help. 

Along with your Galium Arsenide and Silicon Germanium products what products do you plan to develop in Gallium Nitride?

Developing SSHPAs in Gallium Nitride is an important part of what we do. It turns out Gallium Nitride transistor performance has improved over the years. As a result, it has emerged as an alternative to TWTAs. Gallium Nitride amps are combined to create what are called Solid State Power Amplifiers (SSPAs).

What are some of the advantages of GaN HPA technology in SSPAs?

Gallium Nitride based SSPAs provide power, linearity and efficiency that you could not achieve in prior generations of SSPAs. GaN SSPAs are also smaller, lighter and compatible with mobile applications which TWTAs just can’t achieve.

Is it time for the industry to move away from TWTAs to GaN SSHPAs?

Historically TWTAs have been the solution, and that’s been true for decades. However the tide has turned and GaN SSPAs are preferred for many applications. As a result, excitement over Gallium Nitride has increased, that is because GaN SSPAs can do things that TWTAs just can’t achieve.

What are the plans at MPT for solid state amplifiers?

Starting Q1 of 2016, we plan to release a whole line of GaN based SSPAs. As the product line matures we’re going to offer additional power levels and frequency bands.

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