The trend in wireless communication where terminals give their users ubiquitous access to a multitude of services drives the development of reconfigurable radios in deep-submicron CMOS. This is enhanced with the advent of 3GPP-LTE, a standard that is inherently so flexible that a reconfigurable radio is its most economical implementation. The single-chip reconfigurable transceiver developed by imec, Renesas and M4S provides an answer to this need.
The flexible receiver, including analog-to-digital converter, is fully software configurable across all channels in the frequency bands between 100MHz and 6GHz. Its properties such as the RF carrier frequency, channel bandwidth, noise figure, linearity and filter characteristics can be adapted to the requirements of the communication standard that is used. It combines high sensitivities with low phase noise and high linearity. These can be traded for lower power consumption depending on the needs of a particular standard. The flexible transmitter reaches low out-of-band noise, targeting SAW-less 3GPP-LTE operation. The transceiver integrates this multi-standard programmability in an extremely small chip area of only 5mm2 while achieving state-of-the-art performance and power consumption for each covered standard. Therefore, it is competitive to recent single mode radios in mobile devices – handsets, smart phones, PDAs, PC cards, USB dongles, etc.
In a next phase of imec’s ‘green radio’ research program, the focus will be on further reducing the bill of materials and energy consumption by continuing the research on digitally-inspired SAW-less transceivers and power efficient transmitters.
“We are excited that together with our reconfigurable radio program partners Renesas and M4S, we have reached this great achievement with the conception of a low-cost, low-power reconfigurable transceiver for next-generation mobile broadband communications;” said Liesbet Van der Perre, director green radios program at imec. “We are looking forward to continue the collaboration towards next generation wireless.”
“It gives us great pleasure to have helped achieve one of the important milestones of imec’s research program by developing an innovative reconfigurable RF transceiver that uses state-of-the-art CMOS technology;” said Yoshinobu Nakagome, general manager of Advanced Analog Technology Div. Design and Development Unit at Renesas Technology Corp. “This accomplishment bolsters our efforts to develop new RF products that support multiple communication standards, including 3GPP-LTE.”
“We are proud to have contributed to imec’s outstanding “green radio program” and more specifically to the reconfigurable RF transceiver R&D. The device presented today is an excellent Proof-of-Concept device, clearly demonstrating the potential of several innovative 40nm CMOS RF circuit concepts that where invented at Imec.” said Ivo Vandeweerd, CEO of M4S. “Some of these inventions have contributed to the competitiveness of our RF products, which we believe are the smallest, lowest power consuming, multi-mode (2G/3G/LTE), commercial RF transceivers in the world. We are looking forward to continue our collaboration with imec, seeding our internal R&D to stay at the leading edge of innovation.”