Peregrine Semiconductor, the developer of RF SOI (silicon on insulator) and pioneer in advanced RF solutions, has launched UltraCMOS Global 1, the first reconfigurable RF front end (RFFE). For the first time, 4G LTE platform providers and OEMs will be able to save time and money by creating a single-SKU design for global markets that have to support over 40 frequency bands.
With more than a 5,000-fold increase in the number of possible operating states, a reconfigurable RFFE that actually delivers is now a requirement and 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. In addition, Global 1 features the industry’s first LTE CMOS PA with the same 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. “This 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 is able to deliver the scalability that is needed to 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.
The UltraCMOS Global 1 system’s reconfigurable RFFE delivers:
- 3-path MMMB PA, post-PA switching, antenna switch and antenna tuner
- Support for envelope tracking
- 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. “Peregrine was founded with a vision for integration, and, after shipping 2 billion switches and tuners, we are proud to announce a truly integrated RF front-end system that enables a single, global SKU.”
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 Peregrine’s established RF switches and tuners with the first CMOS PA to match the performance of GaAs Pas, and 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.
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.
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.