Reconfigurable CMOS RF Front-End serves global LTE bands in one technology

February 05, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Peregrine Semiconductor has introduced “Global 1” - an offering that includes a CMOS power amplifier that can deliver comparable RF performance to GaAs devices, for use in worldwide LTE handset designs.

Peregrine uses its silicon on insulator (SOI) UltraCMOS process to build advanced RF solutions; Global 1 is its first reconfigurable RF front end (RFFE). For the first time, Peregrine claims, 4G LTE platform providers and OEMs will be able to create a single design for global markets.

Peregrine describes the product as a “system” - implying that it is not a monolithic device but a harmonised collection of some of its prior technologies (switches, tuners etc.) and some new (such as the CMOS PA).

To support over 40 frequency bands and a more than 5,000-fold increase in the number of possible operating states, a truly reconfigurable RFFE is now a requirement. This level of reconfigurability is only feasible with a CMOS process, Peregrine asserts. Global 1’s entire system – multimode, multiband (MMMB) power amplifier (PA); post-PA switch; antenna switch; and antenna tuner – is based on the UltraCMOS 10 technology platform.

Global 1 features the first LTE CMOS PA with the same raw performance as the leading gallium arsenide (GaAs) PAs and has a 33% efficiency increase over other CMOS PAs. Peregrine says it has demonstrated GaAs-level efficiency performance at high power, “which could be a game-changer.”

Global 1 RFFE System

On a single chip, Peregrine’s Global 1 RFFE system supports higher band counts through low-loss switching and tunability; high isolation to solve interoperability issues; simple, digitally-controlled adaptation across modes and bands; and, most importantly, PA performance equivalent to GaAs.

The UltraCMOS Global 1 system’s reconfigurable RFFE delivers:

3-path multimode multiband PA, post-PA switching, antenna switch and antenna tuner

Support for envelope tracking

Common RFFE MIPI interface

“After shipping 2 billion switches and tuners, we are proud to announce a truly integrated RF front-end system that enables a single, global SKU,” the company comments.

This design integrates peak-performance RF switches and tuners seamlessly with the first CMOS PA to match the performance of GaAs PAs. This level of performance is