RFIC start-up MixComm has released its first production IC, an eight-channel RF front-end for 28 GHz, 5G phased array antenna systems. Sample quantities will be available during the second quarter of this year.

Operating from 26.5 to 29.5 GHz, the SUMMIT 2629 RFIC integrates power amplifiers, low noise amplifiers, T/R switching, beamformers with beam table memory, calibration, gain control, temperature and power telemetry, with a high speed SPI interface for control. A single RFIC provides two sets of four channels, i.e., for two polarizations, totaling eight channels per RFIC.

MixComm RFIC

The RFIC was designed to address several challenges constraining 5G mmWave performance:

  • Extending link range to decrease infrastructure cost and improve customer satisfaction.
  • Reducing thermal and power consumption.
  • Optimizing the antenna array and reducing the RF front-end cost.

The SUMMIT 2629 is fabricated on Globalfoundries’ 45RFSOI process, a 45 nm, partially-depleted SOI technology codeveloped with DARPA to accelerate mmWave innovation and enable commercially viable applications. Since 2008, the 45RFSOI process has been running in high volume at multiple Globalfoundries' fabs, incorporating various enhancements to improve RF performance.

Combining the SOI CMOS process capabilities with its unique circuit designs, MixComm says the on-chip power amplifiers achieve high power and high efficiency, more than twice the efficiency of competing solutions. To maintain efficiency and dynamic range, MixComm says the T/R switches have low loss, and the receive amplifier has a low noise figure. Beam steering is accomplished using 6-bit phase shifters with 360 degree coverage and 16 dB gain adjustment in 0.5 dB steps.

Globalfoundries provides turn-key manufacturing of the device, from wafer fab through wafer-level chip-scale packaging and mmWave testing. The RFIC is compatible with low-cost PCB manufacturing used for 5G antenna arrays.

As expected, MixComm says the SUMMIT 2629 is just the first of a future family of mmWave devices which will cover the 5G bands.

“Over the next several quarters, MixComm will be announcing several more products which will continue to march forward in performance, features and cost,” said Harish Krishnaswamy, MixComm cofounder and CTO.

MixComm’s technology is based upon work at Columbia University’s CoSMIC lab, led by Krishnaswamy. The company’s key contributors have worked with RFSOI process technologies for more than a decade, one reason MixComm chose Globalfoundries and the 45RFSOI process.