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Wisair demos first MB-OFDM UWB transceiver

Posted: 14 Apr 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wisair? transceiver? multiband-ofdm specification? intel? ub501?

Wisair has unveiled and demonstrated the first ultrawideband transceiver to meet the physical-layer requirements of the upcoming multiband-OFDM specification.

Intended for wireless USB and video, the chip is designed to provide throughputs of up to 480Mbps and targets consumer, PC and mobile applications.

The chip is the silicon implementation of a discrete version that was demonstrated during a keynote by Intel Corp. CEO Craig Barrett at the spring Forum in February, said Serdar Yurdakul, Wisair's director of U.S. business development and marketing. For that demo, Barrett used a Wisair evaluation kit to demonstrate wireless USB, which is viewed as the first - and most popular - application of MBOA UWB silicon.

The new version, dubbed the UB501, will be demonstrated during the IDF keynote. The chip comes in a 56-pin package, has been implemented in a SiGe biCMOS process. It complies with the early-stage v0.7 of the specification currently being hashed out by the Multiband-OFDM Alliance (MBOA).

According to Yurdakul, any changes that occur before the standard is completed in May will not affect UB501. "This is pre-standard, but if there are any changes they'll be on the modem part," he said. The modem and baseband functions will be performed by an FPGA for the IDF demo.

The UB501 contains the full RF transceiver, said Yurdakul, including all filters, the voltage-controlled oscillator and the variable gain amplifier. "The most important part is that the rx/tx switch is internal also," he said, "so, externally, it simply requires a simple off-the-shelf crystal and some passives." Like other UWB designs, no external power amplifier is required.

Of particular interest is the inclusion of the fast-switching generator needed to enable rapid switching among the eight MBOA bands the chip supports. While the MBOA spec calls for mandatory support of three lower bands, "this generator can switch within several nanoseconds to any band of the eight allowed from 3.1GHz to 7.4GHz," Yurdakul said. "This gives you better piconet and interference [mitigation] performance and the generator is a key part of the whole system."

The chip will not be commercially available until later this year, said Yurdakul. "It's not a test chip, but neither is it for design or production purposes." The plan, he said, is to develop the baseband chip in CMOS and then demonstrate that, along with the UB501 in June. At that point, the media access control will be implemented in an FPGA.

"By Q4 the plan is to have the baseband and MAC on a single chip and then the separate RF." That RF section may be in either SiGe or RFCMOS, said Yurdakul.

"For now we wanted to prove the circuitry with a well-modeled process. We may well continue with SiGe as there's no power or cost [penalty] associated with it, but it does have huge performance advantages [over RFCMOS] as it's a well-proven process." Eventually, he said, the goal is a single chip in RFCMOS.

In the meantime, the company expects to sample full versions of the chip set in the fourth quarter, with a production price target of under $20. Evaluation tool kits for both the baseband and transceiver will be available in June.

Founded in 2001, privately-held Wisair has raised $20 million. "We don't plan any more funding rounds for this or next year. We're fairly set for now, but we'll re-examine the question of third-round funding in 2005.

- Patrick Mannion

EE Times

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