24 February 2012

Black Sand adds 3G bands to BST34 CMOS PA family to enable global take up

Fabless semiconductor firm Black Sand Technologies Inc of Austin, TX, USA, which specializes in power amplifier technology for wireless applications, has extended its established BST34 series of CMOS silicon power amplifiers (PAs) with two devices that complete its range of products for use in every common global cellular frequency band. The BST3405 and BST3408, for use in Band-5 (824-849MHz) and Band-8 (880-915MHz) respectively, are drop-in replacements for the gallium arsenide components traditionally found in every 3G mobile phone, tablet and datacard.

Black Sand manufactures the BST34 series using an industry-standard CMOS semiconductor process. The firm claims that, by replacing GaAs process technology, customers can benefit from lower costs, enhanced product robustness and reliability, and an improved supply chain.

“The BST34 series is already shipping into multiple design wins with multiple customers,” says CEO John Diehl. “Our technology has reached maturity and gained acceptance - this is the right time to extend our reach by leveraging our ability to offer customers solutions for all the major 3G frequency bands,” he adds.

“Last year the cellular PA market grew 19% to $3.3bn and, as the non-handset market grows, we predict it will increase to $4bn by 2016,” comments Chris Taylor, who earlier this month published data on the cellular PA market for analyst firm Strategy Analytics.

“Mobile device manufacturers are looking for an alternative to GaAs PA technology, which has a known history of supply shortages and higher cost-structure,” claims Black Sand’s VP marketing Jim Nohrden. “We can now offer customers a compete range of silicon PAs which, at 28dBm output power, meet or exceed the performance of older GaAs devices, with none of their disadvantages. This high output power, offered across every major frequency band, can be used by our customers in all their mobile products - from low-end to high-end and from datacards to smartphones to tablets,” he adds.

“We have a strategic supply base larger than all existing GaAs PA vendors combined and this has proved critical as the market continues to adopt 3G mobile devices, which have two to three times as many PAs as 2G phones,” Nohrden continues. “Our products offer handset manufacturers better performance and a more reliable source of supply,” he asserts.

The new BST3405 for ‘cellular’ Band-5 (824-849MHz) and BST3408 for ‘GSM’ Band-8 (880-915MHz) products join the existing BST3401 for the ‘2100’ Band-1 (1920-1980MHz), BST3402 for ‘PCS’ Band-2 (1850-1910MHz), and BST3404 for ‘AWS’ Band-4 (1710-1755MHz). The devices are fully function and pin-compatible drop-in replacements for existing 3G GaAs RF PAs.

The BST34 series devices deliver up to 28dBm of linear power and are packaged in a 3mm x 3mm 10-pin form factor. The products include an integrated directional coupler with daisy-chain support, integrated overvoltage and over-temperature protection circuitry. Black Sand also offers the BST35 series products, which include the firm’s TrueDelivered power detection technology, allowing mobile phones to produce up to 2dB higher total radiated power than is possible using GaAs power amplifiers, it is claimed.

The BST3401/2/4 are available and shipping now. The BST3405/8 will ship in second-quarter 2012.

Tags: Black Sand Technologies 3G CMOS PA

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