September 12, 2007 – IBM says it has developed a new semiconductor technology that enables single-chip radio frequency (RF), integrating RF/analog functions including multimode/multiband RF switches, complex switch biasing networks, and power controllers.
The technology, named CMOS 7RF SOI, built using 0.18-micron process technologies and silicon-on-insulator, provides a low-cost alternative to chips built with compound semiconductor materials such as gallium arsenide (GaAs). Using SOI also can minimize insertion loss and maximize isolation to help avoid issues such as loss of signal or dropped calls, potentially enabling significant cost advantages to mobile handsets, IBM explained in a statement.
Initial hardware evaluations have been completed, and design kits are expected to be released sometime in 1H08. The technology is being targeted at applications requiring integrated multimedia functionality but also lower costs, an appealing combination for emerging markets (e.g. China, India, and Latin America), IBM notes.
Later improvements to the single-chip technology could integrate other capabilities, such as filtering, power amplification and management, and receiver/transmitter functions, that are currently either too costly or technically unfeasible to build into mobile devices, IBM said.