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RF CMOS process supports basestation integration

Posted: 05 May 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:austriamicrosystems? tsmc? rf-cmos process? wlan? transistor?

Austriamicrosystems (AMS) is providing foundry service for a 0.35?m RF-CMOS process licensed from Taiwan Semiconductor Mfg Corp.

The process, which will support up to 25GHz, also supports designers attempting to integrate RF and baseband components for cost-sensitive applications, said marketing manager Wilfried Bair. The introduction is intended to round-out the company's offerings in CMOS and BiCMOS foundry services.

"Technically, RF-CMOS could be utilized for 2.45GHz WLAN applications," Bair said. "But most engineers will find it useful for cellular basestation applications [at 900MHz and 1,800MHz], for cordless phones or for DSL."

The best performance comes from SiGe, he acknowledged. "It's a leap ahead in mixed signal. You're usually one or two generations ahead with bipolar technologies"

"You live with lower performance for reduced cost," Bair added. "But RF-CMOS offers enough performance to meet many RF specs."

Bair should know. His company provides foundry services for CMOS, HV (high voltage) CMOS, BiCMOS and BiCMOS with SiGe as the bipolar implant. AMS, based in Graz, Austria, was founded as a joint venture in 1981 and eventually spun out off the joint venture.

Its 2000 revenues totaled $130 million and revenues were about $150 million in 2001. The company has two mixed signal fabs (using 4- and 8-inch wafers). Though the company has offices in San Jose, the majority of its business is in Europe, Bair said.

The new RF-CMOS process is based on a 0.35?m production technology licensed from TSMC. It is also well supported by models and tooling (including those for Cadence Design Systems and Agilent Eesof's Advanced Design System). The models include mismatch and noise models.

In addition to the 25GHz transistors, the process includes linear passive components tuned for RF, such as resistors, capacitors and spiral inductors. A thick metal technology AMS calls "MIM" (for metal insulator metal) allows a very high capacitance for a given die area.

"I'm always amazed by the ingenuity of designers," Bair said. "You give them a technology and they'll find a use for it."

- Stephan Ohr

EE Times

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