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Cellular 4G/LTE Channel / MMICs&More

MWC 2012: For mobile front-end RFICs - size and efficiency matter

MMICS & More

March 14, 2012
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Leading RFIC front-end device manufacturers were on hand at the2012 Mobile World Congress, showing off the latest chip sets. To achieve smaller footprints and deliver on higher power added efficiency, vendors are offering different solutions which could shake up the industry.

Moving away from a one size fits all PAM approach, Skyworks was highlighting front-end modules with 50 percent power added efficiency and a 30 percent smaller footprint for Smartphone baseband platforms. Partnering with leading basedband providers, the company is able to offer modules that are compatible with the world’s first fully integrated LTE modem chipset containing an integrated dual core application processor for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. A family of Power amplifier modules (PAMs) based on the newest high efficiency PAs can be combined with Skyworks’ latest 3G and 4G PAs for the highest performance in the smallest footprint for any LTE modem implementation, according to the company. High efficiency is required for networks to reduce current consumption and allow operators to reduce operating costs and their carbon footprint. The performance of each member of this new family of PAMs has been optimized to support specific LTE bands (VIII/XIV, XII/XVII, I,II,IV,V and VII) and offer lower current consumption than the prevailing, multimode, multiband solutions.

RFMD was also highlighting its expanded product portfolio with a focus on RF power management for addressing specific RF requirements of LTE devices related to band count, current consumption, thermal performance and linearity. Once again, the company was featuring their PowerSmart® power platforms, which utilizes RFMD’s proprietary RF Configurable Power Core™ to deliver converged coverage of all cellular communications modulation schemes (2G/3G/4G, up to LTE 64QAM). In addition to the converge solution offered by PowerSmart, RFMD was also featuring ultra-high efficiency 3G/4G power amplifiers, as well as its expanding portfolio of switches and switch-based products for 4G LTE, TD-SCDMA, WCDMA, 2G/EDGE, and WiFi devices.

TriQuint Semiconductor unveiled new TRITIUM Duo™ family for global 3G and 4G smartphones, combining two band-specific PA and duplexers in a single compact module, effectively replacing up to twelve discrete components. In doing so, the company claims to offer the industry's smallest dual-band PA duplexer (PAD) - 2 PAs & 2 Duplexers in a module smaller than a single-band PAD, A quad-band solution (2 TRITIUM Duos) is approximately 50mm2, half the footprint of a comparable discrete solution

The TRITIUM Duo family shares a common 6 x 4.5mm footprint and supports multi-band, multi-mode operations across multiple platforms. The dramatic size reductions should provide space for mobile device designers to include more features or larger batteries in thinner, and lighter form factors. The TRITIUM Duo™ is currently being evaluated by customers for use in next generation smartphones, according to Ralph Quinsey, president and chief executive officer of TriQuint.

The new dual-band TRITIUM Duo implements proprietary TriQuint CuFlip™ technology to replace wire bonds with copper bumps; saving board real estate and improving performance by providing better heat dissipation and eliminating noise-radiating wires. The new TPAD also employs a wafer level packaging (WLP) technique to provide hermetic filter encapsulation for improved performance and a reduced size. In addition, the modules integrate high-performance BAW and SAW duplexer capabilities.

ANADIGICS also introduced a new family of PAD modules also measuring in at 4.5 mm by 6 mm.  Combining the company’s high-efficiency HELP3E power amplifiers and high performance duplexers, with separate RF paths, these new 3G / 4G PAD modules are targeting mobile device manufacturers looking to extend battery-life, while reducing device design and assembly complexity. The company also announced its new multimode multiband power amplifiers (MMPA), a 5 mm by 7.5 mm power amplifiers that provides a single module solution for quad-band GSM/EDGE and dual-band WCDMA/LTE applications as well as a family of small-cell infrastructure power amplifiers to support E-UTRA Band 7.  The two new power amplifiers are optimized for WCDMA, HSPA, and LTE base stations, including picocells, enterprise-class femtocells, and CPE devices.  The AWB7128 PA delivers +24.5 dBm linear output power, which is optimized for ½ Watt applications.  The AWB7228 PA delivers +27 dBm linear output power, which is optimized for ¼ Watt applications. 

Recent development in CMOS RF PAs for the mobile device market was represented at Mobile World Congress by the relatively new start-up Black Sand (with personnel ties to RF Silicon Labs). The company was featuring family of small-cell infrastructure power amplifiers to support E-UTRA Band 7.  The two new power amplifiers are optimized for WCDMA, HSPA, and LTE base stations, including picocells, enterprise-class femtocells, and CPE devices.  The AWB7128 PA delivers +24.5 dBm linear output power, which is optimized for ½ Watt applications.  The AWB7228 PA delivers +27 dBm linear output power, which is optimized for ¼ Watt applications.

Link to Photo Gallery from the show.

Link to Video Gallery from the show.

Recent Articles by Richard Mumford, International Editor

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