Microsemi Corporation has announced what it calls a breakthrough technology platform for 4G RF front-end modules (FEMs) based on silicon germanium (SiGe) technology. The company is already developing next-generation IEEE 802.11ac wireless LAN FEM on this innovative new platform. IEEE 802.11ac is now being referred to as fifth-generation WiFi or 5G WiFi by the industry.
Microsemi's new platform integrates multiple filters, switches, LNAs and power amplifiers onto a single monolithic SiGe die, and supports multiple input/multiple output (MIMO) functionality.
"Microsemi has developed what we believe to be the world's first silicon germanium-based, single-chip RF front-end module platform capable of meeting the stringent requirements of 4G applications while still offering space and cost-savings," said Darcy Poulin, director of product engineering for Microsemi. "Moving forward, we will continue to innovate solutions that facilitate the growth of new industry standards such as IEEE 802.11ac."
According to ABI Research, IEEE 802.11ac shipments will increase significantly in 2013 with 802.11ac emerging as the dominant Wi-Fi protocol by 2014. Industry research firm In-Stat estimates that nearly 350 million routers, client devices and attached modems with 802.11ac will ship annually by 2015, up from about 1 million units in 2012.
"The performance achieved with this platform is truly impressive and quite an accomplishment in the industry," said Paul Pickle, senior vice president of Microsemi. "The first-of-its-kind digital tuning capability we have designed will reduce future development times and customization efforts as we engage our baseband partners. In addition, the performance achieved will enable Microsemi to drive innovation into the latest wireless LAN standard, IEEE 802.11ac, as well as the next-generation 4G mobile standard."
Microsemi's RF front-end-module includes two fully functional 2.5GHz IEEE 802.16 power amplifiers, two transmit/receive switches, two LNAs, two baluns, harmonic and noise shaping filters, and a digital interface for control and tuning. Its performance meets the strict 802.16 mask and EVM requirements at an output power of 24dBm in a 5x5.6mm package.
Microsemi's next-generation wireless LAN dual-band FEM will be able to integrate highly linear 802.11ac compliant 2.4GHz and 5GHz PAs, 2.4 and 5GHz bypassable LNAs, switches, filters, a diplexer and an I2C digital interface into a tiny 3x4mm QFN package.