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17 September 2009


Epicom launches high-linearity 2.3-2.7,3.4-3.8 and 4.9-5.9GHz WiMAX PAs

To support both the IEEE 802.16d-2004 fixed and 802.16e-2005 Wave 2 mobile WiMAX standards, fabless chip designer Epic Communications Inc (Epicom) of Hsinchu, Taiwan has launched three WiMAX power amplifiers (PAs) with high linearity, miniature packages, and fully matched performance with minimum external components.

As one of the most critical components of RF front-end circuits for WiMAX devices, each PA delivers high-efficiency output power across a broad frequency band: 2.3-2.7GHz (PA2501B), 3.4-3.8GHz (PA3501B) and 4.9-5.9GHz (PA5306B) respectively, which are widely adopted by most worldwide WiMAX broadband service providers at present. This allows the use of a single PA to cover the entire band of a specific WiMAX application. Previously, multiple narrow-band PAs with associated matching and biasing components were required to achieve similar performance, says the firm.

Epicom’s WiMAX PAs integrate a GaAs power amplifier circuit, power detector, bias control circuit, temperature compensation control circuit, and step attenuator. The PAs perform over a broad range of bias voltages and temperatures, says the firm. Furthermore, the integrated 25dB step attenuator offers both high-gain and low-gain modes to improve power-saving performance. The external components for bias and matching circuits are also simplified in order to cut down the bill-of-materials (BOM) cost and to shrink the required PC board area and size.

Epicom says that the WiMAX PAs can be used in a diverse range of WiMAX-related designs and applications such as WiMAX customer premises equipment (CPE), embedded WiMAX network interface cards (NICs), WiMAX USB dongles, WiMAX-enabled smartphones, netbook (MID), and electronic books to enable WiMAX connectivity and to enhance product performance and cost-effectiveness.

Supplied in an RoHS-compliant 2.85mm x 3.6mm x 0.5mm 12-pin QFN package, the PA2501B covers the 2.3-2.7GHz frequency range, including the two major bands 2.3-2.4GHz and 2.5-2.7GHz. Under a WiMAX test signal, the error vector magnitude (EVM) performance is 3% at +25dBm output power with a collector current of less than 450mA while operating at 3.3V. It also passes the WiMAX forum 802.16 mask (WMF Mask) requirement at over +25dBm of output power. When operating at 4.2V, EVM performance is 3% at +26dBm output power level with 550mA of collector current. Gain is greater than 30dB across the two major bands, and saturated output power is +33dBm.

Covering the 3.4-3.8GHz frequency range, under a WiMAX test signal the PA3501B has EVM of less than 4% at +24dBm output power with 400mA of collector current when operating at 3.3V, and passes the WMF Mask requirement at over +24dBm of output power. When operating at 4.2V, EVM is 4% at +26dBm output power with 550mA of collector current, and passes the WMF Mask at over +25dBm. Gain is greater than 30dB across the whole 3.4-3.8GHz band, and saturated output power is +32dBm.

Supplied in an RoHS-compliant 3mm x 3mm x 0.8mm QFN package, the PA5306B covers the 4.9-5.9GHz frequency range. It can also be used for 802.11a/n high-band applications and the 5.8GHz cordless phone market while operating at 3.3V with an output power of +18dBm at 3% EVM. For WiMAX applications, it delivers +20dBm of linear output power under a WiMAX test signal while operating at 4.2V, meeting the performance requirements of most WiMAX applications working in this frequency band, Epicom says.

Epicom claims that, due to their high linearity, small die size, and internally matched configuration with minimum external components, the prices of the PAs are 20-30% lower than competitors’ cost structures. Samples with evaluation boards are available. Epicom says that it provides full application design support, including reference circuit and on-site performance tuning for prospective customers of contract manufacturers (CMs), original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs), as well as WiMAX chipset vendors.

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