25 January 2011

Black Sand launches its first 3G CMOS PAs

After demonstrating what was claimed to be the world’s first 3G CMOS power amplifier (PA) in September 2009, fabless semiconductor firm Black Sand Technologies Inc of Austin, TX, USA, which was founded in 2005 with funding from Austin Ventures and Northbridge Venture Partners and specializes in power amplifier technology for wireless applications, has launched two new 3G CMOS RF PA product lines that significantly improve the reliability and data throughput of mobile phones, tablets and datacards, it is claimed. The product lines consist of six unique power amplifiers across multiple frequency bands.

The BST34 series has been designed as a drop-in replacement for existing 3G GaAs RF PAs, and are hence fully function and pin-compatible. Switching from GaAs to CMOS enables mobile device makers to benefit from an improved supply chain, higher reliability, and lower cost, the firm says.

The BST35 series, with its TrueDelivered high-performance power detector, improves total radiated power (TRP) performance by up to 2dB, reducing the incidence of dropped calls and increasing the data rates in real-world operating environments. In particular, the BST3501 is the industry’s first chip to bring this functionality to the RF front end, it is claimed, with performance figures matching or exceeding those of GaAs power amplifier ICs for output power, linearity, efficiency and noise.

The BST34 and BST35 series are both packaged in a 3mm x 3mm 10-pin form factor. BST34 products include an integrated directional coupler with daisy-chain support, integrated overvoltage and over-temperature protection circuitry. BST35 products are robust to 100:1 VSWR (10 times that of GaAs PAs).

“Our technology has gained a strong positive reaction from both our initial customers and mobile operators,” says CEO John Diehl. “In particular, the BST35 products help smartphone and data-card companies both meet their industrial design goals and achieve good TRP performance in the real world – ensuring fewer dropped calls and faster data speeds with no additional eBOM components or cost,” he claims.

“Mobile device manufacturers are looking for an alternative to GaAs PA technology, which has a known history of supply shortages and higher cost-structure,” comments VP marketing Jim Nohrden. “The BST34 and BST35 products give our customers the rapid access to PA technology they need for ultra-high-volume manufacturing,” he adds. “We have a strategic supply base larger than all existing GaAs PA vendors combined, and this will prove critical as the market continues to adopt 3G mobile devices, which have two to three times as many PAs as 2G phones. Our products will offer our customers better performance and a more reliable source of supply in 2011,” Nohrden believes.

The BST34 product line includes: BST3401 for ‘2100’ Band 1 (1920–1980MHz), BST3402 for PCS Band 2 (1850–1910MHz) and BST3404 for AWS Band 4 (1710–1755MHz), Japanese Band 9 (1749.9–1784.9MHz) and Latin American Band 10 (1710–1770MHz).

The BST35 product line includes: BST3501 for ‘2100’ Band 1 (1920–1980MHz), BST3502 for PCS Band 2 (1850–1910MHz) and BST3504 for AWS Band 2 (1710–1755MHz), Japanese Band 9 (1749.9–1784.9MHz) and Latin American Band 10 (1710–1770MHz).

The BST3401 and BST3501 chips and evaluation boards will be sampling in February. The BST3402, BST3502, BST3404 and BST3504 will sample in second-quarter 2011.

Tags: Black Sand Technologies 3G CMOS PA

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