RFIC start-up Otava has announced a wideband beamformer IC covering 24 to 40 GHz, which encompasses the n257, n258, n260 and n261 5G; satellite communications and military bands.

The OTBF103 beamformer was developed to be a single IC solution for multiple bands and phased array applications, reducing capital expenditures and engineering time to design systems covering various bands.

The functionality of the OTBF103 comprises:

  • Eight element Tx/Rx TDD beamformer.
  • Wideband low noise amplifier (LNA) and power amplifier (PA) designs.
  • Independent channel gain control: 20 dB range in 0.5 dB steps.
  • Independent channel phase control: 360 degree coverage with 5.6 degree steps.
  • Nominal and low power bias modes.
  • High speed LVDS or CMOS SPI control with integrated memory.
  • RMS power detection and temperature sensing.
  • Eight programmable gate drivers for external PA or LNA control.
  • Eight drivers for external T/R switch control.

Steve Fireman, Otava co-founder and the senior vice president of engineering, said, “Otava’s design engineers have been creating narrow and wideband mmWave SoCs for phased array applications for more than 12 years. The team’s combined expertise includes beamformers, transceivers and high performance mixed-signal devices in the commercial and DoD spaces. Transitioning into the 5G market was an easy choice considering how of all of our backgrounds seamlessly complement each other.”

Fabbed by GlobalFoundries

The OTBF103 was designed on GlobalFoundries (GF) 90HP SiGe 9HP process, which is based on GF's 90 nm BiCMOS platform. In addition to its wide bandwidth capability, GF’s mature process offers low noise and high output power performance.

Otava is using GF’s post-fab turnkey services for mmWave test and packaging, which simplifies Otava’s back-end supply chain, reduces cost and accelerates time to market.

Peter Rabbeni, vice president of mobile and wireless infrastructure at GF, said, “We are pleased to provide advanced manufacturing services in support of Otava’s innovative beamforming chip, with its potential to impact the global 5G rollout, while leveraging our best-in-class post-fab turnkey services.”

Evaluation Board and Kit

Otava’s evaluation board for the beamformer, the OTBF103-EVAL, may be ordered on the company’s website in January 2021, priced at $7,499.

To accelerate the evaluation and integration of the OTBF103 in new systems, Avnet is offering a beamformer evaluation board and kit. The full kit, including the beamformer evaluation board, a MicroZed digital controller and accessories and software GUI will be available in early February 2021.

“Our evaluation board and kit will enable new designs based on this chip to happen even faster,” said Jim Beneke, vice president of products and emerging technologies at Avnet.

“The capability this new beamformer chip brings to market will enable extremely efficient data delivery routes and will reduce interference, enabling a better 5G system,” said Beneke.