The IMEC SCALDIO is a wideband software-defined radio (SDR) transceiver. It can be programmed to operate with all current and future cellular, WLAN, WPAN, broadcast and positioning standards in the frequency range between the 174MHz and 6GHz. The multi-mode SDR transceiver has a power consumption and CMOS chip area comparable to current state-of-the-art single mode radios thereby fitting the performance, power and cost requirements for integration into next-generation mass volume mobile devices.
Current multi-mode terminals have a limited flexibility of two or three standard modes and suffer from increased power consumption and bill-of-material cost due to lack of reuse of building blocks. IMEC developed a SDR transceiver IC that can be programmed to operate with all present and future standards in the frequency range between the 174MHz and 6GHz.
The SDR front-end is highly integrated to save cost and area. The reconfigurable radio front-end IC in 130nm technology uses only 1.2V supply voltage and has an active area of 7.7mm2. Depending on its configuration the SDR front-end has a power consumption ranging from 60 to 120mA which is comparable to a single-mode radio.
The SDR transceiver front-end includes a fully reconfigurable direct-conversion receiver, transmitter and two synthesizers. The direct-conversion scheme is used to allow reconfiguration from 174MHz to 6GHz. The performance of each block can be digitally adjusted over a wide range of specifications through a novel type of analog network-on-chip. Using these different configuration “knobs”, the overall front-end performance (RF carrier frequency, channel bandwidth, noise figure, linearity, filter characteristic, etc.) and power can be tuned to the specific requirements of the different standards to be covered.
In addition, the front-end can significantly reduce its power consumption by exploiting real-time power/performance trade-off opportunities when allowed by the conditions of the environment, e.g. by reducing the filtering level when the interferer level is lower than the worst case defined by the standard.
New mixed-signal control, calibration, and compensation techniques are used to relax the specifications in the analog domain and hence to lower cost and lower risk of analog circuit design.
IMEC has fully measured and verified the SCALDIO radio. Several patents have been filed for circuit-level breakthroughs. The technology is now ready for transfer to the industry for use in upcoming mobile solutions.