LONDON Fabless chip company VT Silicon Inc. (Atlanta, Georgia) is developing an RF front end IC for 4G communications, which is set to be manufactured by Tower Semiconductor Ltd. (Migdal Haemek, Israel). Tower trades as TowerJazz.
The VFM2500 will cover the 2.5- to 2.7-GHz WiMax and 2.4-GHz WiFi bands and integrate all of the RF front end functions on a single silicon die, including support for s 2 x 2 MIMO with all of the transmit and receive filters and baluns, according to Tower.
Tower has been selected to manufacture the device using its 0.18-micron SiGe process. The VFM2500 will be available for testing in the first quarter of 2010 with production targeted at Q4 2010, Tower said.
VT Silicon's chip was achieved after two years of privately-funded development using the company's patented linearity enhancement technology and a novel RF front end topology.
Tower said that its SiGe offers performance competitive with GaAs, with as much as 40 percent lower die cost. Bipolar devices in the process can be used to integrate the low noise amplifier, the antenna transmit/receive and transmit diversity switches, and the power amplifier), eliminating the need for a number of expensive discrete GaAs devices.
The CMOS capability enables mixed-signal and digital functions on the same chip allowing programmable control of RF functions, advanced sensors, and serial digital communication.
"Using traditional GaAs does not allow the integration of complex digital and analog functions into a monolithic front end RFIC," said Vikram Krishnamurthy, CTO of VT Silicon, in a statement issued by Tower. "Our design, an industry first, takes full advantage of this silicon process to provide highly intelligent digital communications, programmability, and control of all RF functions. It offers a rich set of features within the 4G RF front end IC primarily due to the availability of CMOS and bipolar transistors offered in one process."