Peregrine Semiconductor claims industry’s first reconfigurable RF front-end system
To support over 40 frequency bands and a more than 5,000-fold increase in the number of possible operating states, a truly reconfigurable RFFE is now a requirement. This level of reconfigurability is only feasible with a CMOS process.
Global 1’s entire system — multimode, multiband (MMMB) power amplifier (PA); post-PA switch; antenna switch; and antenna tuner — is based on the company’s UltraCMOS 10 technology platform. This platform leverages 25 years of RF expertise with proven performance demonstrated by more than 2 billion RF SOI units shipped. In addition, Global 1 features the first LTE CMOS PA with the same raw performance as the leading gallium arsenide (GaAs) PAs and has a 33-percent efficiency increase over other CMOS PAs.
“For years RF engineers have been looking for an integrated, CMOS RF front-end offering that performs as well as GaAs for mobile devices,” says Joe Madden, founder and principal analyst at Mobile Experts. “Peregrine’s UltraCMOS technology has demonstrated GaAs-level efficiency performance at high power, which could be a game-changer.”
On a single chip, the Global 1 RFFE system delivers the scalability to easily support higher band counts through low-loss switching and tunability; high isolation to solve interoperability issues; simple, digitally-controlled adaptation across modes and bands; and, most importantly, PA performance equivalent to GaAs.
Global 1 includes a multimode, multiband power amplifier, post-PA switch, antenna switch and antenna tuner on a single chip.
Global 1 system’s reconfigurable RFFE delivers: a 3-path MMMB PA, post-PA switching, antenna switch and antenna tuner; support for envelope tracking, and a common RFFE MIPI interface.
“Creating a global, single-SKU design for LTE devices is currently the toughest, unmet challenge in RF,” says Jim Cable, CEO at Peregrine Semiconductor.
Before now, no vendor has been able to deliver GaAs-level PA performance in a CMOS PA, which prevented CMOS PAs from competing in the performance-driven LTE handset market. The Global 1 system integrates the company’s established, best-in-class RF switches and tuners seamlessly with the first CMOS PA to match the performance of GaAs PAs. This level of performance is reached without enhancements from envelope tracking or digital predistortion, which is often used when benchmarking CMOS PAs with GaAs PAs.
A standard industry benchmark for PA performance is PAE (power-added efficiency) using a WCDMA (voice) waveform at an ACLR (adjacent channel leakage ratio) of -38 dBc. Under these conditions, the performance of the UltraCMOS Global 1 PA approaches 50-percent PAE. This is on par with the leading GaAs PAs and exceeds the performance of other CMOS PAs by 10 percentage points, which represents a 33-percent efficiency increase. Further, the UltraCMOS Global 1 PA maintains GaAs-equivalent PAE for LTE waveforms with varying resource-block allocations.
The UltraCMOS Global 1 power amplifier is the industry’s first to match GaAs performance and exceed the performance of existing CMOS PAs by 10 percentage points, which represents a 33-percent efficiency increase.
While the UltraCMOS Global 1 PA reaches GaAs-competitive performance levels without the use of envelope tracking, the system natively supports all major envelope tracking solutions currently on the market. The PAE at saturated power (PSAT) provides a good indication on what PAE is possible using an envelope tracking modulator, however, the efficiency enhancements that envelope tracking brings are very band specific. With an envelope tracker, the system efficiency of UltraCMOS Global 1 typically increases 10 percentage points, depending on band.
According to Mobile Experts, the RFFE market is projected to grow from $6.1 billion in 2013 to $12.2 billion in 2018. Much of this growth stems from demand in the LTE market and the impact the RFFE has on the overall performance in mobile devices.
The UltraCMOS Global 1 PA will be demonstrated by appointment at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It will complete platform integration in 2014 and will be in volume production in late 2015.