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IC family claims improved RF performance

Posted: 27 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:performance RF? IC Silicon Lab? transmit receive?

Targeting the burgeoning embedded RF market for applications such as remote keyless entry, tire-pressure monitoring, alarms, weather stations, toy and game controllers and meter reading, a new IC family from Silicon Laboratories Inc. claims improved RF performance for both the transmit and receive paths, as well as internal functions which significantly off-load the companion MCU and minimize overhead.

The EZRadioPro family, covering 240MHz to 960MHz, includes an integrated LNA yielding overall sensitivity of -118dBm, which the vendor claims is 8dB better than available competing solutions. On the transmit side, the power amplifier (PA) develops +20dBm output power, 10dB better than available products. Together, the transmit power and receive sensitivity yield a basic link budget of 138dBm, compared with 120dBm for competing approaches, according to Silicon Labs, who also maintains that operation over 2,000m is possible with this link budget.

The front end also supports a pair of diversity antennas to overcome multipath fading and polarization problems for improved BER and range, with antenna selection performed within the IC; this diversity can reduce required transmit power by 9.4dB compared to a single antenna for equivalent performance, said the vendor.

The IC supports packet handling, wake-up timers, temperature sensing and low-battery detection, along with very fast cycle times for extremely low duty cycle and, thus, low power consumption. Internal registers allow the user to tailor operating specifics such as data rate to the application.

The EZRadioPRO is designed to work with the vendor's C8051F9xx MCU family, thus providing a complete 0.9V, single-cell design via internal DC/DC converters. Sleep-mode current or the radio IC is 50nA, for extreme long-life operation where changing batteries is awkward or impossible, and the MCU can sleep for up to 26hrs without polling, for long-term data-acquisition needs.

Tools and development support include a software development board, RF module for quicker prototyping and a wireless development suite with PC-based GUI software tools including a terminal emulator and a chip configurator. The supporting software includes media-access control (MAC) modules to handle the communication link and frequency-hopping software to meet FCC regulations. Users can also get reference-design schematics' and layouts to speed design and implementation.

The EZRadioPRO IC family is housed in 20-pin QFN packages, with prices spanning $1.31 to $2.91 (10k units), and is available now.

- Bill Schweber
Planet Analog

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