Semiconductor technology for future wireless home and office

Wednesday, 27 February, 2008

A transceiver integrated on a single chip that operates at 60 GHz on the CMOS process has been announced by NICTA, Australia’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Research Centre of Excellence.

The development claims to enable the truly wireless office and home of the future. As the integrated transceiver developed by NICTA is extremely small, it can be embedded into devices. The breakthrough will mean the networking of office and home equipment — without wires — can become a reality.

Researchers from NICTA’s Gigabit Wireless Project claim to be the first in the world to have developed an integrated transceiver, a complete transmitter and receiver, on a single chip at 60 GHz on CMOS.

This technology breakthrough will enable the wireless transfer of audio and video data at up to 5 Gbps, 10 times the current maximum wireless transfer rate, at 1/10th the cost.

“Our team, which includes 10 PhD students from the University of Melbourne, has overcome some significant challenges in developing this breakthrough technology,” NICTA chief executive officer Dr David Skellern said.

“Developing very high frequency radio components in a standard CMOS process and then integrating those components on a single chip has posed challenges in dealing with the inherent limitations of that process for radio circuits.

“Now that NICTA researchers have successfully addressed these challenges, the ICT industry will soon have access to low cost, low power and high broadband chips that will be vital in enabling the digital economy of the future.”

NICTA’s research involved a close collaboration with leaders in the global semiconductor industry. The technology was developed using the IBM 130 nm RF CMOS process.

The researchers chose to develop this technology in the 57–64 GHz unlicensed frequency band as the millimetre-wave range of the spectrum makes possible high component on-chip integration as well as allowing for the integration of very small high gain arrays.

“The availability of 7 GHz of spectrum results in very high data rates, up to 5 Gbps to users within an indoor environment, usually within a range of 10 metres,” Professor Skafidas said.

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