SAN FRANCISCO—Scientists from IBM say they have achieved a milestone in millimeter-wave ICs that can alleviate data bottleneck issues for mobile communications while allowing radar-imaging technology to be scaled down to the size of a computer laptop.
Millimeter-wave bandwidth has the ability to support Gb/s wireless communications, expanding opportunities for mobile backhaul, small cell infrastructure, and data center overlay network deployment, according to IBM.
The IBM scientists have created a phased-array transceiver that contains all of the millimeter-wave components necessary for both high data-rate communications and advanced-resolution radar imaging applications.
According to Alberto Valdes-Garcia, one of the lead researchers from IBM that worked on the project, the key advance in the new chip is the monolithic integration of all of the necessary components, including transmitter, receiver and all antennas, in a single package. Garcia will present a paper detailing the phased-array transceiver design Tuesday (June 4) at the IEEE Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit Symposium in Seattle.
"The breakthrough is the increased in the level of integration in our silicon-based solution at this frequency," Valdes-Garcia said in an interview with EE Times. Most existing millimeter-wave components use three-five materials rather than silicon, he said.
Fully integrated phased array IC. 6.7mm X 6.7mm. Fabricated in IBM SiGe BiCMOS technology. The IC integrates 32 receive and 16 transmit elements with dual outputs to support 16 dual polarized antennas.
The complete solution, which includes antennas, packaging, and transceiver ICs, transforms signals between millimeter-wave and baseband and is smaller than a U.S. nickel, according to IBM
Valdes-Garcia said the frequency range of the new ICs is well suited for high-resolution radar imaging applications due to its short wavelength, relatively low atmospheric attenuation and ability to penetrate debris. The ICs enable radar technology to be scaled down, giving pilots the ability to penetrate fog, dust and other vision impairing obstructions, according to IBM.
90GHz designs have been demonstrated on 8HP, so best guess would be 8HP. It's not like they have any specs that would drive them to require a process more advanced than the minimum fT/fMax needed to function.
Les makes an excellent point; a relatively low power radar that can see "kilometers" ahead sounds like a robust solution for highway travel. In an aircraft, it would take quick action to avoid revealed obstacles.
I remember when phased array radar was billboard sized, consumed multi-MW and something you put on a ship or located in the Frozen North to watch for nasties coming over the pole. And it still does that...
It's a little scary to think of what can be done with this technology on a small scale - the surveillance potential is incredible. Should we be glad or worried - or both?
Remember, just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're NOT watching you.
When I wrote the above I was very aware of not only the potential for abuse, but that potential would be consciously and carefully built in.
But this is nothing new. LTE, and God knows what else, has a 'Legal Intercept' hook built in. Not only can your communications be tapped but your phone or tablet can be commanded to turn on camera and / or microphone.
Intrusive government is a very big problem. It's not a technical problem though.