Tower introduces phase-change RF switch for 5G

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

The switch is non-volatile and uses a phase-change material while being compatible with silicon-germanium BiCMOS and power CMOS. The figure of merit is on resistance multiplied by the off capacitance (Ron x Coff) and is less than 10 femtoseconds. This compares to 70 to 100 femtoseconds in use today for the most advanced applications.

The switch is most likely a chalcogenide type switching layers similar to that used in phase-change memories. The technology has demonstrated endurance of one billion (10^9) cycles

The phase-change switch operates over a range of frequencies spanning megahertz to millimeter-wave frequencies. Its use can result in low insertion loss and small device size, Tower said. Applications could include mobile equipment, basestations and mmWave communications.

Tower is engaged with multiple customers to bring the technology to market. Tower will be offering multi-project wafer (MPW) runs in 2021 for selected customers.

The novel switch is the subject of two papers at this year’s virtual International Microwave Symposium (IMS) offering results from electrical devices, process integration and circuits fabricated at Tower Semiconductor. Presentations are part of the Tu1G: Innovative RF Switches and Applications session (Tu1G-2 and Tu1G-5).

Tower has just reported it made net profit of $19 million on revenue of $310 million in the 2Q20. This compares to a net profit of $21 million on revenue of $306 million in 2Q19. The company is expecting 3Q20 revenues of $320 million plus or minus 5 percent.

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