IMEC offers to license ADCs for ‘Beyond-5G’ basestations, phones

IMEC offers to license ADCs for ‘Beyond-5G’ basestations, phones

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

Research institute IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) has reported on two “Beyond 5G” analog-to-digial converter (ADC) circuits that it says it is prepared to license to commercial companies.

The two ADCs are reported at the IEEE Symposium on VLSI Technology & Circuits with one being optimized for basestations and the other for smartphones.

The basestation ADC supports RF sampling, operates across multiple frequency bands up
to 5GHz, and combines high resolution and high linearity with low power consumption. Complementing this is a single-channel handset ADC that achieves power efficiency through multi-bit pipelined stages and background calibration.

The basestation ADC obviates the need to achieve multiband operation by deploying separate transceivers per frequency band by being able to achieve gigahertz sampling speeds. Large antenna arrays required for MIMO also tend to use numerous discrete transceivers and IMEC’s approach allows for a more efficient system-on-chip implementation, the research institute claims.

The CMOS-based 10GS/s hierarchical time-interleaved ADC for RF-sampling applications delivers 9/8.2 effective number of bits (ENOB) at low/Nyquist frequencies with a spurious-free dynamic range greater than 60dB up to 5GHz bandwidth. It does this within a power budget of 350mW.

“To help basestation radios cope with interference from other wireless signals, our ADC leverages built-in wideband-linear signal buffering to provide higher effective number of bits than comparable systems – without the need for digital nonlinear distortion correction engines. In addition, its design incorporates a novel hierarchical interleaver architecture that further enhances the ADC’s linearity and speed,” said Joris Van Driessche, program manager at IMEC, in a statement.

To accommodate beyond-5G connectivity at the user end,IMEC has designed a single-channel mobile handset ADC that leverages multi-bit pipelined stages based on ring amplification. IMEC’s handset ADC achieves a 10.91 ENOB and 81dB SFDR at 1GS/s, while consuming 17.8mW.

“With these ADCs, both of which are available for licensing, we are introducing two key building blocks for enabling beyond-5G communications. Our next goal is to develop basestation ADCs that support FR3 frequencies – 6 to 20GHz – while maintaining high linearity and low power consumption, using advanced sub-5nm CMOS nodes,” concluded Van Driessche.

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