Nujira Ltd. has released its new Woodstock 16-band Multi-Mode, Multi-Band (MMMB) Envelope Tracking (ET) reference design for 4G smartphone RF front ends. Using Nujira’s recently announced NCT-L1200 ET chip, the reference design overcomes the energy efficiency and frequency band challenges faced by mobile operators and handset OEMs since the introduction of 4G.

Covering up to 16 frequency bands from 700 MHz to 2.7 GHz in a PCB area of less than 200 mm2, Nujira’s ET reference design delivers state-of-the-art multi-band 2G, 3G and 4G performance, using less PCB area and battery power than today’s 3G smartphones.

Mobile handset developers are currently faced with a number of RF engineering challenges. They need to simultaneously support different operating modes (e.g. LTE, TD-LTE, WCDMA, HSPA and GSM) in one handset, while also supporting an increasing number of frequency bands. LTE is today deployed worldwide in 20 frequency bands from 700 MHz to 2.7 GHz, which currently each require a dedicated PA and RF filter.

With this discrete design approach, up to nine variants of some popular smartphone models are required to cover all regions and operators. This results in increased design and verification effort, numerous production runs, delayed product rollouts and a complicated, costly inventory management process.

With the Woodstock reference design, Nujira claims to overcome these challenges and provides a highly integrated solution for global 3G/4G terminals. Incorporating a multi-mode, multi-band ET Power Amplifier, a broadband 2.3-2.7 GHz ET PA, and an additional region- or operator-specific LTE ET PA, the design ensures maximum frequency band coverage and energy efficiency at minimal costs. By enabling handsets to operate on almost all worldwide 3G and 4G bands, Nujira’s new reference design significantly reduces the need for numerous regional product variants.

The Woodstock design integrates Nujira’s NCT-L1200 Envelope Tracking supply modulator with PA devices, switches and filters from a number of Tier 1 suppliers, providing handset manufacturers with a complete solution from transceiver to antenna. The company’s ET modulator enables the handset to deliver full power to the antenna port, maximising coverage and boosting data rates, even for LTE signals with high Peak-to-Average Power Ratios (PAPR), eliminating the need for Maximum Power Reduction (MPR).

The NCT-L1200 ETIC is said to have the industry’s lowest output impedance, enabling it to drive up to 4 PA devices in parallel without compromising performance, even on the highest bandwidth 20 MHz LTE channels, while cutting energy consumption by 35 percent. The design also includes several patented PCB and component-level innovations to maximise system performance.

Nujira is also supplying a complete suite of MIPI RF Front End (RFFE) control scripts, ET shaping tables, and production calibration algorithms for the solution, minimizing time-to-market for platform vendors and OEMs.

Tim Haynes, CEO, Nujira stated: “Nujira is the only ET vendor with the ability to support our customers with these complex, leading-edge RF reference designs. Our new reference design provides vendors with a rapid solution for single-SKU global 4G handsets which can beat today’s 3G phones on cost, size, RF performance and power consumption.”

“Adding Envelope Tracking to a couple of specific LTE bands is relatively straightforward, but doesn’t by itself solve the cost, footprint and power consumption challenges the industry is facing. What the mobile industry really needs is Multi-Mode, Multi-Band reference designs that can be quickly incorporated into handsets. MMMB front ends are undoubtedly the future, and Nujira’s reference design is the first result of our close collaboration with the world’s leading PA vendors to make ET MMMB RF front ends a commercial reality.”