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.