OTTAWA, Ontario -- Seven-month-old IceFyre Semiconductor Inc. here today disclosed plans to introduce the industry's first single-chip modem solution for 5-GHz wireless local area networks using a proprietary architecture of three signal-computational engines to simplify waveform processing and lower power consumption.
The single-chip approach to orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) modems will result in four times the power savings compared to existing designs, while enabling the fabless startup to use 0.18-micron CMOS technology from a major silicon foundry supplier, said Dan Mathers, president and CEO of IceFyre.
The three-engine architecture also enables the modem chip to meet IEEE 802.11a performance specifications in 5-GHz wireless LANs while providing 54 megabits per second data rates and a range of 100 meters, he said in an interview with SBN.
"We believe as much as $500 million in 5-GHz WLAN chips will be sold in the market during 2005," Mathers said. The Ottawa-based company, along with a dozen other chip competitors, expects to see 5-GHz wireless networks to emerge in the marketplace during the next couple of years as the existing 2.4-GHz WLANs become overloaded with traffic and higher bandwidth requirements.
IceFyre managers argued that conventional OFDM modem designs will not be suitable for volume production needs because of high-power consumption, low performance, and system costs that are too expensive for many applications.
The Canadian startup said it has solved the problem by taking a different approach to OFDM modems, using a patented architecture of three signal-computational engines. These engines reside in the transmitter chair and deconstruct the modulation waveform for on-chip processing using simpler radio-frequency circuits. The signal is reconstructed on the chip for multi-carrier OFDM waveform or single-carrier quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) waverform applications.
The privately-held startup said its patented "full system solution" consists of a media access controller (MAC), physical baseband, and RF circuits, which altogether consume less than 500 milliwatts at 1.8 volts compared to 2.0 watts and higher at 3.3 V for conventional OFDM modem designs.
The architectural approach of using computational engines to move functions from the analog section of a modem to the physical (PHY) portion of the solution reduces the number of external RF components needed in a system from about 150 to 50 devices. These RF components include surface acoustic wave filters and external capacitors, said IceFyre.
The seven-month-old startup has briefed about 50 system houses under nondisclosure agreements, and company is now negotiating with four OEMs and has signed a pact with a well-known manufacturer, Mathers hinted. He would not disclose names at this time.
Founded in February, IceFyre has raised $13.25 million in seed and first-round financing. Mathers said the company now has more than 55 employees, and it is preparing to formally announce its first products early next year, with samples expected to be available in the second quarter of 2002.