October 9, 2007 – Jazz Semiconductor is releasing a silicon radio platform that it claims allows complete integration of higher-frequency radio components in a wireless device on a single piece of silicon — transceiver, antennae, power amplifier, and controllers — without the need for discrete GaAs devices. Target applications include cell phones, wireless LANs, and WiMAX systems.
The technology uses Jazz’s 0.18-micron RF CMOS process and SiGe BiCMOS process with four modules: an SOI option for integrating the antenna switch, a PA module with high-power SiGe or CMOS devices, an LNA module with SiGe low-noise devices, and a module with passive elements for inter-stage filter and matching circuits.
In a statement, Jazz points out that the SOI option enables integration of both the antenna switch and power amplifier. The company says the technology is cheaper than chips built with GaAs, reducing die costs by up to 50%. A through-wafer-via module to improve the efficiency of power amplifiers is under development.
Jazz already has ramped to production volume for integrated power amplifiers and transceivers for lower power standards (e.g., 802.11b,g and PHS) using its 0.35-micron processes. The new 0.18-micron offering targets higher-frequency requirements (e.g., 5GHz bands in 802.11n and WiMax) and higher power (e.g., cellular 2G, 2.5G and 3G standards such as CDMA, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, WCDMA and WEDGE).
Jazz’s modular SiGe process “affords us the ability to put very sophisticated control and intelligence within the power amplifier because it combines both CMOS, which is low power control circuitry, and bipolar transistors in one fabrication process,” claims Vikram Krishnamurthy, CTO of VT Silicon, quoted in the Jazz statement. “Building our PAs on SiGe instead of the more costly GaAs, used in most existing WiMax PAs, enables us to reduce chip costs to justify high-volume consumer applications.”
The news follows a similar recent announcement from IBM that it has developed a low-cost, integrated solution with multiple RF/analog functions on a single chip, replacing GaAs with SOI.