Advanced semiconductor technology underlies tomorrow’s mobile network infrastructures

STMicroelectronics‘ advanced BiCMOS55 SiGe technology has been selected by the European E3NETWORK R&D initiative for developing energy-efficient, high-capacity transmission systems in next-generation mobile networks.

Skyrocketing mobile-data usage requires networks to support greater capacity and higher data rates. This places new challenges on the backhaul infrastructure, accelerating the transition to advanced network architectures, such as Heterogeneous Network and Cloud RAN (Radio Access Network), and higher frequency bands (such as the E-band), where more spectrum is available to support faster data-rate channels.

To build these super-efficient mobile networks, equipment manufacturers need high-performance electronic components that combine large-scale chip integration, reduced power consumption, and optimised cost. The E3NETWORK project leverages the integration and power advantages of ST’s BiCMOS55 SiGe technology delivering Heterojunction Bipolar Transistors (HBT) with Ft up to 320GHz in 55nm lithography. This technology allows the integration of a high-frequency analog section with high-performance, dense digital blocks such as logic, AD/DA converters, and memories.

E3NETWORK is designing an integrated E-band transceiver using ST’s BiCMOS55 technology for fronthaul and backhaul infrastructure, which enables digital multi-level modulations, highly focused “pencil-beam” transmissions, and data rates above 10Gbps. The pencil-beam property facilitates a high degree of frequency reuse in the deployment of backhaul and fronthaul links, while preserving the spectrum efficiency over the millimeter-wave interval.

An EU project within the Seventh Framework program, E3NETWORK (“Energy efficient E-band transceiver for backhaul of the future networks”) brings together a consortium of companies including CEIT (Spain), Fraunhofer (Germany), Alcatel Lucent (Italy), CEA (France), INXYS (Spain), OTE (Greece), SiR (Germany), Sivers IMA (Sweden), and STMicroelectronics (Italy).

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