Reconfigurable RF front-end system

Paul Boughton

Peregrine Semiconductor Corp, founder of RF SOI (silicon on insulator) and pioneer of advanced RF solutions, has announced 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.

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 Peregrine’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 industry’s 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, Peregrine’s 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.

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.”

The Global 1 system integrates Peregrine’s 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 per cent PAE. This is on par with the leading GaAs PAs and exceeds the performance of other CMOS PAs by 10 per centage 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.

For more information, visit www.psemi.com