The global rollout of fourth-generation wireless (4G) infrastructure requires new architectural frameworks for RF devices with demands like high linearity. Integrated Device Technology (IDT) Inc. is confident that its high-performance RF solutions for high-bandwidth communications will open a new window of opportunity in the continuing evolution of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology.
The base station hardware now represents almost 50 percent of the wireless infrastructure market. And according to Earl Lum, President of EJL Wireless Research, LTE technology could comprise 90 percent of all RF base station system shipments by 2018.
According to Greg Waters, IDT’s President and CEO, the wired and wireless communications infrastructure business now represents two-third of IDT’s revenue. He particularly mentioned RF business tied to the burgeoning LTE networks as an exciting opportunity. “Fourth-generation base station manufacturers make up around US$50 to US$70 billion business,” Waters said. “At the same time, however, RF components in the 4G base stations need higher precision because of size and power constraints.”
Base stations traditionally generate a lot of power, but that has to change because the size of base stations is shrinking in the LTE-centric 4G networks. Another crucial challenge is the co-existence of 2G, 3G and 4G signals within the same spectral band. It is now imperative for base stations in the 4G environment to scale from macros to small cells while they improve in reliability as well as data throughput.
RapidIO is used in 100 percent of 4G rollouts
Here, Waters said, IDT’s expertise in RapidIO backplane communications will be highly valuable in reducing the overall network latency. “New LTE-Advanced and C-RAN designs are now adopting the RapidIO interconnect standard and it’s being used 100 percent in 4G rollouts.” Another prominent advantage that IDT claims to bring to its RF is expertise in signal integrity. “Signals from prepaid 2G users interfere with 3G and 4G users and that degrades quality of service (QoS) for the high ARPU business,” he added. “IDT’s expertise in signal integrity is critical in countering noise and interference.”
RF switch launch
IDT’s RF product portfolio includes mixers, digital step attenuators, modulators/demodulators and RF timing that encompass the design footprint from antenna to data converters. The San Jose, California–based chipmaker says it has over 40 RF products in production or sampling. IDT also claims to have captured 50 percent RF market share in China’s 4G network build-out.
The RF chips now represent the company’s fastest growing business. “We started from zero only five short years ago,” said Dave Shepard, VP and General Manager of IDT’s RF & Timing Division. “We are expanding our RF operations by 50 percent over the next 15 months.”
IDT has recently made an entry into the RF switch market with the launch of the F2912 device that offers low insertion loss and high isolation and linearity. It is aimed at 2G, 3G and 4G base stations, microwave backhaul and front haul, test equipment, CATV head-end, WiMAX radios, and general switching applications.
IDT’s F2912 RF switch
The F2912 chip supports the frequency range of 300 KHz to 8 GHz in order to achieve broad bandwidth without sacrificing performance across the entire frequency range. It boasts high isolation of 60 dB at 2 GHz to reduce signal leakage between adjacent RF port paths. It also features high OIP3 of +64 dBm to reduce intermodulation distortion. Moreover, the F2912 RF switch offers operating temperature range of -55 to 125°C for high reliability in harsh thermal environments.
More product details about the F2912 RF switch are available at http://bit.ly/1IiF9y3
Image credit: IDT Inc.
Majeed Ahmad is author of Age of Mobile Data: The Wireless Journey To All Data 4G Networks that chronicles the evolution of mobile data technology and how that eventually led to pure data LTE network architecture.