13 February 2012

Peregrine ships billionth CMOS-on-sapphire RFIC, driven by new STeP5 RF switches

Peregrine Semiconductor Corp of San Diego, CA, USA, a fabless provider of radio-frequency (RF) integrated circuits (ICs) based on silicon-on-sapphire (SOS), says that it has shipped its billionth CMOS-on-sapphire RFIC and has been designed into the world's most sought-after smartphones.

The milestone was achieved with a new SP8T (single-pole, eight-throw) RF switch, which is one of several new high-throw-count switches designed on the latest ‘STeP5’ version of its UltraCMOS process technology, which is used for many of the firm’s latest RFICs, including the newest SP8T and SP10T RF switches and the most recent DuNE digitally tunable capacitors (DTCs) for RF impedance tuning. Peregrine says that the technology innovation associated with the STeP5 release has driven demand from cellular handset makers and global customers for UltraCMOS RFIC products to a record number of devices per week.

“UltraCMOS STeP5 process brings an unprecedented capability to our product design team,” reckons chief marketing officer Rodd Novak. “It has enabled us to develop unique RF switches that achieve industry-leading results for combined linearity, insertion loss, isolation and power consumption, all monolithically integrated into the industry's smallest footprint,” he claims. “STeP5 has also opened the door for future product categories for the RF front-end,” Novak adds. “With the support of our robust supply chain and manufacturing foundries, we have achieved the fastest production ramp in Peregrine history.”

The 4G/LTE network has introduced significant challenges to the RF front-end (RFFE) of the cellular handset, including a fragmented RF spectrum, which causes co-existence issues between bands and other standards such as connectivity (GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), says Peregrine. The lack of global frequency alignment has resulted in 28 LTE bands being identified in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) mobile standards specification (3GPP TS 36.101 V10).

“One of the most difficult problems 4G and LTE handset designers face is the coexistence of multiple bands and the linearity needed to support operation without self-jamming,” comments Allen Nogee, research director with market research firm In-Stat, covering the Wireless market segment. “The RF front-end is bearing most of the design burden for performance of the RF signal. In fact, LTE’s spectral efficiency comes at the cost of increased linearity and power consumption,” he adds. “Peregrine’s new STeP5 UltraCMOS products appear to have hit the need right on the mark.”

The firm’s latest family of high-throw-count RF switches includes the PE426151, PE426152 and PE426153 SP10T devices, and the PE426821 and PE426851 SP8T devices with integrated MIPI, SPI or GPIO interface options. The new devices support 4G LTE RFFE linearity and insertion loss demands over all conditions:

  • PE426821 and PE426851 SP8T RF switches. Insertion loss (0.35dB at 900MHz and 0.45dB at 1900MHz); linearity (2fo,3fo is -42dBm at 824MHz to 2.6GHz); IMD2/3 of -111dBm; isolation 37dB on all paths (900/1900MHz); and 4kV HBM ESD (ANT) and 2kV (all pins). Operating to 3GHz and offered in flip-chip known good die (KGD);
  • PE426151, PE426152 and PE426153 SP10T RF switches. Insertion loss (0.4dB at 900MHz and 0.5dB at 1900MHz); linearity (2fo,3fo is -42dBm at 824MHz to 2.6GHz); IMD2/3 of -111dBm; isolation 38dB on all paths (900/1900MHz); and 4kV HBM ESD (ANT) and 2kV (all pins).

All the above devices operate up to a frequency of 3GHz and are offered in flip-chip known good die (KGD). The new STeP5 RF switches are now in high-volume production, and samples are available to qualified customers.

Tags: Peregrine Semiconductor CMOS-on-sapphire RFIC

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