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At ISSCC, transceivers reach giga-heights

Posted: 16 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:transceiver giga-heights? 77GHz Fujitsu? 2.88Gbit/s UWB?

Researchers pushed wireless transceivers to new giga-heights at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC).

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd described what it claimed was the world's first working 77GHz transceiver. An NEC researcher discussed UWB device capable of data rates up to 2.88Gbit/s.

Automotive radar was the target for three of the chips, including the Fujitsu part. Today, some high-end cars offer collision detection systems, but they are based on modules that can cost as much as $500, and use multiple CMOS and GaAs components.

Researchers at ISSCC reported on work developing single-chip CMOS devices that could handle automotive short- and long-range radar standards at 24GHz and 77GHz. However, the devices were only working prototypes, and researchers said many challenges are ahead to get to the ideal $20 CMOS modules that might bring the anti-collision systems to the average car.

'World's fastest'
Fujitsu's part was the most ambitious. Previous conferences have hosted as many as 17 papers about 60GHz technology, now being developed for wireless video in HDTVs, but none have reported on transceivers running at 77GHz, said Yoichi Kawano who presented the Fujitsu paper.

"This is the world's fastest transceiver as far as we know," he said.

The 90nm device used frequency-modulated continuous wave modulation to calculate the distance and velocity of vehicles in a 150m range in front of the user. The device measured 2.1mm x 1.2mm, about a quarter of the size of just the GaAs chips used today. It consumed 920mW.

Made in 130nm
Two other papers described transceivers supporting 24GHz operation targeting side and back mounted radars that operate within a 40m range.

Researchers at STMicroelectronics and the University of Catania described a single-chip UWB transceiver made in a 130nm BiCMOS process. The device uses an antenna attached via a flip-chip package, but ST engineers are trying to develop a new package more suitable for automotive use.

"This market is very new for silicon, so a lot of work has to be done to move from research results to an actual product," said Egidio Ragonese, an assistant professor Catania who presented the paper.

Vipul Jain, a doctoral student at the University of California at Irvine, presented a dual-mode transceiver that could handle short-range automotive radar at 24GHz and 77GHz. The 180nm BiCMOS part used shared pulse generators and frequency synthesizers and consumed about 1W.

The architecture could be extended to support long and short range radar, Jain said.

NEC focused on high bandwidth for consumer applications in its work on a UWB transceiver that could hit data rates up to 2.88Gbit/s. The 90nm device used an 800MHz analog baseband, frequency hopping and full 16-QAM at band group 3.

Aiko Tanaka, a principal researcher at NEC Corp., noted that the design is an early prototype that still has challenges with noise cancellation and will probably not be put into a test package.

Separately, a Berkeley researcher showed a 60GHz chip aimed at mobile devices, consuming just 50mW and compliant with the IEEE 802.15.4a standard. The team is now working on a baseband that will consume just 25mW.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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