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Wireless ICs take the stage at ISSCC

Posted on: 06-Feb-2007

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Next week’s International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) provides a good look at the technologies that will continue to drive volumes in the wireless portion of the semiconductor industry, including chips supporting low-cost handsets, MIMO-enhanced wireless LANs, smaller 3G handsets, and software defined radio (SDR) architectures.
At ISSCC, Infineon Technologies will present its version of a single-chip GSM phone, including digital baseband, RF, power management, and memory. The Infineon solution works with an external power amplifier, flash, and peripheral devices. The power management function supports a 5.5 Volt input for low-cost nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) and nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries, as well as support for the more-expensive lithium-ion cells.
The wireless LAN session at ISSCC include a highly integrated MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) baseband processor from Atheros Communications. The chip uses signal processing techniques to support multiple data streams over the 802.11n standard, still under development by the IEEE standards committee.
MIMO utilizes a single channel with multiple data streams, with data rates of 200-300 megabits per second – fast enough for real-time wireless transmission of multiple high definition TV streams within a home.
Researchers from Broadcom and IQ Analog will present a fully-integrated multi-band MIMO transceiver implemented in 180-nm CMOS. The transceiver integrates two receivers and two transmitters, and addresses some key MIMO issues, including I/Q imbalance, phase noise, and channel-bonding.
Low-cost handsets and wireless LANs should enhance the ability of people in the developing world to participate in the world’s knowledge-based economy. In the wealthier nations, wireless carriers are beginning to see gradual adoption of 3G wireless networks. At ISSCC, three companies -- Analog Devices, ETH Zurich, and Nokia – will describe ICs designed to improve the transmission path, while reducing the size and cost of 3G handsets.
Researchers based at the Interuniversity Microelectronics Consortium (IMEC) and the Katholicke University in Leuven, Belgium will present architectures and circuits for Software-Defined Radios. A reconfigurable RF front end and a heterogeneous multi-processor SoC for the baseband platform are part of the SDR solution.
The goal of the IMEC-KU approach is low-power operation, so the architecture includes a performance-energy manager which adapts to the needs of the application and the conditions of the propagation environment. The transmission speed can be scaled, providing a 40-percent improvement in average system-level energy efficiency.
The ISSCC begins with tutorial and circuit-design forums on Sunday, Feb. 11 at the Marriott Hotel in San Francisco. The technical paper sessions run Feb. 12-14, with 182 regular papers and 52 short papers on the agenda.

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About weQuest:
weQuest's are written by G Dan Hutcheson, his career spans more than thirty years, in which he became a well-known as a visionary for helping companies make businesses out of technology. This includes hundreds of successful programs involving product development, positioning, and launch in Semiconductor, Technology, Medicine, Energy, Business, High Tech, Enviorntment, Electronics, healthcare and Business devisions.

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