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Cover Feature

Invited Paper

Editor’s Note: At the end of December, the 3GPP approved the 5G non-standalone new radio (NSA NR) specification,
which defines how enhanced broadband services can be deployed using a 5G NR leveraging the existing LTE network. This
NSA architecture will first be fielded—later this year—for fixed wireless access (FWA) services using mmWave spectrum,
i.e., 28 and 39 GHz.
Qorvo and Anokiwave are two companies leading the development of the mmWave front-end technology for
the active phased arrays that will power these FWA services. Each company has analyzed the system requirements and
defined a unique approach to meeting them. Qorvo has chosen GaN, Anokiwave silicon. We are fortunate that this
issue of Microwave Journal features articles from both, each stating the case for its technology choice. Regardless of
which argument you favor, no doubt you will agree that both companies are doing excellent technology and product
development, a key step to making 5G viable.

5G Fixed Wireless Access Array

and RF Front-End Trade-Offs
Bror Peterson and David Schnaufer
Qorvo, Greensboro, N.C.

he vision of next-gener- gigabit fixed wireless access (FWA) testbed toward a truly mobile
ation 5G networks is to services to houses, apartments broadband experience. Not surpris-
deliver an order-of-magni- and businesses, in a fraction of the ingly, Verizon, AT&T and other car-
tude improvement in ca- time and cost of traditional cable riers are aggressively trialing FWA,
pacity, coverage and connectivity and fiber to the home installations. with the goal of full commercializa-
compared to existing 4G networks, Carriers are also using FWA as the tion in 2019.
all at substantially lower cost per
bit to carriers and consumers. The Device-to-Device
Communications Automobile-to-Automobile
many use cases and services en- Communications
abled by 5G technology and net-
works are shown in Figure 1. In this Smart Grid
first phase of 5G new radio (NR)
standardization, the primary focus Smart Home
has been on defining a radio access Enhanced Mission Critical
Mobile Broadband
technology (RAT) that takes advan- Services
tage of new wideband frequency Fixed Wireless
allocations, both sub-6 GHz and
above 24 GHz, to achieve the huge Massive Internet Critical/Emergency
Broadcast on of Things Services
peak throughputs and low latencies Mobile Device
proposed by the International Mo-
bile Telecommunications vision for
2020 and beyond.1 Reality & Virtual Reality
Mobile network operators are
Smart Cities
capitalizing on the improvements IoT
introduced by NR RAT, particularly
in the mmWave bands, to deliver  Fig. 1 5G use cases.

Reprinted with permission of MICROWAVE JOURNAL® from the FEBRUARY 2018 issue.
©2018 Horizon House Publications, Inc.

 Fig. 2 Global 5G bands above 24 GHz. • Random Dallas Suburb

- 800 Houses/km2
- 500 m ISD
- 9 Cell Sites
- 23 Sectors
- ~35 Houses/Sector
Active Antenna System • Capacity Per Sector
- 35 Houses/Sector
- 5x Oversubscription
- 1 Gbps Service
- Capacity ~5 Gbps
• BTS Parameters
- Capacity ~5 Gbps
Customer Premise - 400 MHz BW
Equipment - 16-QAM w/LDPC: 3 bps/Hz
Mobile - 4 Spatial Streams/Layers
Equipment Customer Premise
Equipment • Business Case
- 35% Take Rate
- $100/Month for 1 Gbps SLA
Central Data - $14k/Sector/Year
Edge Center - $177k/km2/Year
Data Center
 Fig. 4 FWA in a suburban
 Fig. 3 End–to–end FWA network.

In this article, we analyze the ar- and come in several form factors: all tions that maximize range, ensure
chitecture, semiconductor technol- outdoor, split-mount and all indoor initial customer satisfaction and al-
ogy and RF front-end (RFFE) de- desktop and dongle-type units. Mo- low time for BTS and CPE equip-
sign needed to deliver these new bile-handset form factors will follow. ment to reach the needed cost and
mmWave FWA services. We discuss Global mmWave spectrum avail- performance targets.
the link budget requirements and ability is shown in Figure 2. In the Large coverage is essential to the
walk through an example of subur- U.S., most trials are in the old block success of the FWA business case.
ban deployment. We address the A LMDS band between 27.5 and To illustrate this, consider a subur-
traits and trade-offs of hybrid beam- 28.35 GHz, but the plan-of-record ban deployment with 800 homes/
forming versus all-digital beamform- of carriers is to deploy nationwide km2, as shown in Figure 4. For BTS
ing for the base transceiver station in the wider 39 GHz band, which is inter-site distance (ISD) of 500 m, we
(BTS) and analyze the semiconduc- licensed on a larger economic area need at least 20 sectors, each cov-
tor technology and RFFE compo- basis. These candidate bands have ering 35 houses from nine cell sites.
nents that enable each. Finally, we been assigned by 3GPP and, except Assuming 33 percent of the custom-
discuss the design of a GaN-on-SiC for 28 GHz, are being harmonized ers sign up for 1 Gbps service and a
front-end module (FEM) designed globally by the International Tele- 5x network oversubscription ratio, an
specifically for the 5G FWA market. communications Union.2 average aggregate BTS capacity of 3
FWA describes a wireless con- Gbps/sector is needed. This capacity
FWA DEPLOYMENT nection between a centralized sec- is achieved with a 400 MHz band-
A clear advantage of using torized BTS and numerous fixed or width, assuming an average spectral
mmWave is the availability of un- nomadic users (see Figure 3). Sys- efficiency of 2 bps/Hz and four layers
derutilized contiguous spectrum at tems are being designed to lever- of spatial multiplexing. If customers
low cost. These bands allow wide age existing tower sites and support pay $100 per month, the annual rev-
component carrier bandwidths up a low-cost, self-install CPE build- enue will be $280,000/km2/year. Of
to 400 MHz and commercial BTSs out. Both are critical to keeping course, without accounting for re-
are being designed with carrier ag- initial deployment investment low curring costs, it is not clear FWA is a
gregation supporting up to 1.2 GHz while the business case for FWA is good business, but we can conclude
of instantaneous bandwidth. Cus- validated. Early deployments will be that as ISD increases, the business
tomer premise equipment (CPE) mostly outdoor-to-outdoor and case improves. To that end, carriers
will support peak rates over 2 Gbps use professional roof-level installa- are driving equipment vendors to


Probability Pathloss is Less Than Abscissa (%)

39 GHz BANDS 90
500 m ISD ~333 m Cell Range

Equipment Class Power (EIRP) 80 Pro Install Self Install CPE NEC
Base Station 75 dBm/100 MHz Qualcomm
50 Huawei
Mobile Station 43 dBm 40 Samsung
Transportable 55 dBm 20 China Telecom
Station 10
build BTS and CPE equipment that 180 160 140 120 100
operate up to regulatory limits to Path Loss (dB)
maximize coverage and profitability.
In the U.S., the Federal Com-  Fig. 5 Statistical path loss simulation for urban-macro environment with 500 m ISD.
munications Commission has de-
fined very high effective isotropic sive professional roof-level installa-
radiated power (EIRP) limits for the tions. The distribution curve shows

Transmit EIRP (dBm)

28 and 39 GHz bands,3 shown in the maximum system path loss to 75
160 dB
Table 1. The challenge becomes be 165 dB. 70 165 dB
170 dB
building systems that meet these Closing the link depends on 65
targets within the cost, size, weight many variables, including transmit 60
and power budgets expected by EIRP, receive antenna gain, receiv- 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
carriers. Selecting the proper front- Receive G/NF (dB)
er noise figure (NF) and minimum
end architecture and RF semicon- edge-of-coverage throughput. To
ductor technology are key to get- avoid overdesign of the cost-sen-  Fig. 6 Transmit EIRP and receive G/
ting there. sitive CPE equipment and shift the NF vs. path-loss for 1 Gbps edge-of-
coverage throughput.
FWA Link Budget burden toward the BTS, the link
design begins at the CPE receiver
The standards community has sustain a 1 Gbps link at 165 dB of
and works backward to arrive at the
been busy defining the perfor- path loss when the CPE receiver G/
BTS transmitter requirements. In
mance requirements and evaluat- NF is ≥ 21 dBi.
lieu of the conventional G/T (the ra-
ing use cases over a broad range of Next, we consider the impact of
tio of antenna gain to system noise
mmWave frequencies. The urban- receiver NF by plotting the mini-
temperature) figure-of-merit (FOM),
macro scenario is the best represen- mum number of array elements
we define a more convenient G/NF
tation of a typical FWA deployment: needed to achieve G/NF of 21 dB
FOM: the peak antenna gain (includ-
having large ISD of 300 to 500 m and (see Figure 7). We also plot the to-
ing beamforming gain) normalized
providing large path-loss budgets tal low noise amplifier (LNA) power
by the NF of the receiver. Figure 6
that overcome many of the propa- consumption. By adjusting the axis
illustrates the required EIRP for the
gation challenges at mmWave fre- range, we can overlap the two and
range of receive G/NF to overcome
quencies. To understand the need- see the impact NF has on array size,
a targeted path loss delivering an
ed link budget, consider a statistical complexity and power. For this ex-
edge-of-coverage throughput of
path-loss simulation using detailed ample, each LNA consumes 40 mW,
1 Gbps, assuming the modulation
large-scale channel models that ac- which is typical for phased arrays.
spectral efficiency is effectively
count for non-line-of-site conditions The NFs of RFFEs, including the T/R
2 bps/Hz and demodulation SNR is
and outdoor-to-indoor penetra- switch losses, are shown for 130 nm
8 dB. From the graph, the BTS EIRP
tion, like those defined by 3GPP.4 SiGe BiCMOS, 90 nm GaAs PHEMT
for a range of CPE receiver’s G/NF
Figure 5 shows the result for a 500 and 150 nm GaN HEMT at 30 GHz.
can be determined. For example,
m ISD urban-macro environment The compound semiconductor
65 dBm BTS EIRP will be needed to
performed by equipment vendors
and operators. For this simulation,
28 GHz channel models were used 256
# of Array Elements

Total LNA Pdc (W)

with 80 percent of the randomly 192

dropped users falling indoors and 20
20 percent outdoors. Of the indoor 128
users, 50 percent were subject to 1.5 dB 10
high penetration-loss models and GaAs/GaN
50 percent lower loss. Long-term, 0 0
carriers desire at least 80 percent 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Noise Figure (dB)
of their potential users to be self-
installable to minimize more expen-  Fig. 7 Array size vs. front-end NF and power consumption for G/NF = 21 dB.
15-25 m
Column Array Size Beamwidth (°) Gain (dB)
Single Element 102 5

2-Element 51 8

4-Element 26 11
(b) 8-Element 13 14
 Fig. 8 Array complexity depends
Let’s start by first understanding
on the scanning range needed for the per-element array supports wider
deployment: suburban (a) or urban (b). the azimuth and elevation scanning scan angles but needs 4x as many
requirements and whether two-di- PAs, phase shifters and variable
mensional beamforming is required gain components for an antenna
for a typical FWA deployment or if with four elements. To achieve the
a lower complexity, one-dimensional same EIRP, the PA driving a column-
(azimuth only) beamforming array is fed array with four antennas will
sufficient. This decision impacts the need to provide at least 4x the out-
power amplifier (PA). Figure 8 shows put power, which can easily change
two FWA deployment scenarios. In the semiconductor selection. It is
the suburban deployment, the tower reasonable to assume a suburban
• Nx Fewer Components heights range from 15 to 25 m and BTS will use antennas with 6 to 9 dB
• Nx Larger PA the cell radius is 500 to 1000 m, with higher passive antenna gain com-
• Higher Feed Losses
• Fixed Elevation Pattern an average house height of 10 m. pared to an urban deployment. As
(a) Just as with traditional macro cellu- a result, the phased array needs far
lar systems, there is no need for fully fewer active channels to achieve the
adaptive elevation scanning. The el- same EIRP, significantly reducing ac-
evation beam can be focused down tive component count and integra-
by corporately feeding several pas- tion complexity.
1:4 Splitter

sive antenna elements, as shown in

Figure 9a. This vertically stacked Array Front-End Density
column of radiating elements is de- Early mmWave FWA BTS designs
signed to minimize radiation above used separate, single-polarization
the houses and fill in any nulls along transmit and receive antenna arrays,
the ground. Further, the gain pat- which allowed significantly more
• Nx More Components
tern is designed to increase at rela- board area for components. These de-
• Nx Smaller PAs
• Lower Feed Losses tively the same rate as the path loss. signs avoided the additional insertion
• Elevation Beam Steering This provides more uniform cover- loss and linearity challenges of a T/R
age for both near and far users. The switch. However, a major architecture
 Fig. 9 Column-fed (a) and per- nominal half-power beamwidth can trend is integrated T/R, dual-polariza-
element (b) active arrays. be approximated as 102°/NANT and tion arrays (see Figure 10), which is
the array gain by 10log10(NANT ) + driving RFFE density. The key rea-
technology provides ≥ 1.5 dB ad- son is spatial correlation. Adaptive
5 dBi. With passively combined an-
vantage, translating to a 30 percent beamforming performance depends
tennas, the elevation beam pattern
savings in array size, power and, ul- on the ability to calibrate the receive
is focused and the fixed antenna
timately, CPE cost. and transmit arrays relative to one
gain increases, as shown in Table 2.
To explore architecture trades another. As such, it is important to
For the suburban FWA deployment,
that are key to technology selec- integrate the transmit and receive
a 13 to 26 degree beamwidth is suf-
tion and design of the RFFE com- channels for both polarizations, so
ficient, with the passively combined
ponents, we start by understanding the array shares a common set of
column array from four to eight
the antenna scanning requirements. antenna elements and RF paths. The
elements. In the urban scenario,
We highlight the circuit density and net result is a requirement for the
however, the elevation scanning re-
packaging impact for integrated, RFFE to have 4x the circuit density of
quirements are greater, and systems
dual-polarization receive/transmit earlier systems.
will be limited to one or two passive
arrays. Finally, we investigate all- At mmWave frequencies, the
digital beamforming and hybrid RF lattice spacing between phased-
Figure 9b illustrates the per-
beamforming architectures and the array elements becomes small, e.g.,
element active array. Both the per-
requirements for each. 3.75 mm at 39 GHz. To minimize
element and column-fed array ar-
1D or 2D Scanning chitectures have the same antenna feed loss, it is important to locate
The number of active channels in gain, but the column-fed array has the front-end components close to
the array depends on many things. a fixed elevation beam pattern. The the radiating elements. Therefore, it
is necessary to shrink the RFFE foot- ALL-DIGITAL VS. HYBRID between the number of baseband
print and integrate multiple func- ARRAYS channels and the number of active
tions, either monolithically on the It was natural for BTS vendors to RF channels. This approach better
die or within the package, using a first explore extending the current, balances analog beamforming gain
multi-chip module. Tiling all these sub-6 GHz, all-digital beamform- and baseband processing. The fol-
functions in a small area requires ing, massive MIMO platforms to lowing sections analyze the two
either very small PAs, requiring a mmWave. This preserves the basic architectures and discuss the RFFE
many-fold increase in array size, or architecture and the advanced sig- approaches needed for each.
using high-power density technolo- nal processing algorithms for beam- Digital Beamforming
gies like GaN. Further, it is critical formed spatial multiplexing. How-
to use a semiconductor technology Assuming large elevation scan-
ever, due to the dramatic increase
that can withstand high junction ning is not required for suburban
in channel bandwidths offered by
temperatures. The reliability of SiGe FWA and a well-designed, column
mmWave and the need for many
degrades rapidly above 150°C, but antenna provides gain of up to
active channels, there is a valid
GaN on SiC is rated to 225°C. This 14 dBi, we start with a mmWave
concern that the power dissipation
75°C advantage in junction temper- BTS transceiver design targeting an
and cost of such a system would be
ature has a large impact on the ther- EIRP of 65 dBm and compute the
prohibitive. Therefore, vendors are
mal design, especially for outdoor, power consumption using off-the-
exploring hybrid beamformed ar-
passively-cooled phased arrays. shelf point-to-point microwave radio
chitectures,5 which allows flexibility

T Array R Array T/R Array Dual-Polarization T/R Array

10 cm > 40 dB

1:N Splitter 1:N Combiner

1:N Combiner/Splitter
2x the Circuit Density 1:N Combiner/Splitter
4x the Circuit Density

Transitioning From Separate Arrays Integrated T/R Integrated T/R and

Dual Polarization

 Fig. 10 FWA antenna arrays are evolving from separate T and R arrays to integrated T/R arrays with dual polarization.

14-bit 4.5 Gbps DVG A Hybrid IQ Mixer 9 W GaN PA Circulator
IRF VGA Driver
Corporate Feed


14-bit 4.5 Gbps DVG A Hybrid Driver 9 W GaN PA Circulator

Corporate Feed



14-bit 3 Gbps Gain Block DVG A LNA + IQ Mixer

 Fig. 11 Array design using digital beamforming and commercial, off-the-shelf components.
components that have been avail- Hybrid Beamforming There is an important trade un-
able for years, including a high-pow- The basic block diagram for folding, whether SiGe front-ends
er, 28 GHz GaN balanced amplifier. a hybrid beamforming active ar- can provide sufficient output power
The multi-slat array and transceiver ray is shown in Figure 14. Here, N and efficiency to avoid the need for
are shown in Figure 11. Assuming baseband channels are driving RF higher performance III-V technol-
circulator and feed-losses of 1.5 dB, analog beamformers, which divide ogy like GaAs or GaN. With good
the power at the antenna port is the signal M-ways and provide dis- packaging and integration, both
27 dBm. From the following equa- crete phase and amplitude control. approaches can meet the tight an-
tions, achieving 65 dBm EIRP re- FEMs drive each M-element subar- tenna lattice-spacing requirements.
quires 16 transceivers that, com- ray panel. The number of baseband
bined, provide 12 dB of digital paths and subarray panels is de- Tx Total/Channel = 13 W
beamforming gain: termined by the minimum number
Other: 0.5
of spatial streams or beams that
EIRP = GBF ( dB) + GANT ( dBi) + are needed. The number of beam- RF-DAC: 1
PAVE _ TOTAL ( dBm) former branches and elements in DVGA: 0.5

each subarray panel is a function

EIRP = 10log10 (NCOLUMNS ) +
Final PA: VGA: 1.2
of the targeted EIRP and G/NF. 8.8
10log10 (NPAs ) + GANT + While a popular design ratio is to Driver: 1
PAVE/CHANNEL ( dBm) have one baseband path for every
16 to 64 active elements, it really
The power consumption for each depends on the deployment sce- (a)
transceiver is shown in Figure 12. nario. For example, with a hot-spot
Rx Total/Channel = 4 W
The total power dissipation (PDISS) small cell (or on the CPE terminal
at 80 percent transmit duty cycle for side), a 1:16 ratio single panel is ap- Down-Converter/LNA: 0.8
all 16 slats will be 220 W per polar- propriate. A macro BTS would have
ization, and a dual-polarized system two to four subarray panels with 64
will require 440 W. For all outdoor active elements, where each panel
tower-top electronics, where pas- is dual-polarized, totaling four to 2.2 DVGA: 0.9
sive cooling is required, it is chal- eight baseband paths and 256 to
lenging to thermally manage more 512 active elements. The digital
than 300 W from the RF subsystem, and analog beamforming work to-
suggesting an all-digital beamform- Gain Block: 0.2
gether, to maximize coverage or (b)
ing architecture using today’s off- independently, to provide spatially
the-shelf components is impractical. separated beams to multiple users.  Fig. 12 Power dissipation of the
However, new GaN FEMs are on transmit (a) and receive (b) chains.
the horizon to help address this. As
shown in Figure 13, the GaN PAs in-
tegrated in the FEM apply the tried-
and-true Doherty efficiency-boost-
ing technique to mmWave. With
Doherty PAs, digital pre-distortion
Corporate Feed

(DPD) is needed; however, the ad-

jacent channel power ratio (ACPR) Transceiver
requirements defined for mmWave
bands are significantly more re-
laxed, enabling a much “lighter”
DPD solution. The estimated power
dissipation of a 40 dBm PSAT, sym-
metric, multi-stage Doherty PA can (a)
be reduced more than 50 percent.
In the above system, this improve-
Power-Added Efficiency (%)

ment alone drops the total PDISS 36
below 300 W. Combined with 32
power savings from next-genera- 28
tion RF-sampling digital-to-analog 20
and analog-to-digital converters, 16
advancement in mmWave CMOS 12
transceivers and increased levels of 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42
Output Power (dBm)
small-signal integration, it will not (b)
be long before we see more all-dig-
ital beamforming solutions being  Fig. 13 Integrated FEM with symmetric GaN Doherty PA and switch-LNA (a) and PA
deployed. performance from 27.5 to 29.5 GHz (b).

RF Beamformer Front-Ends
Digital Processing Mixed Signal IF-RF Conversion


D/A Subarray
DUC Panel 1
Digital Beamformer


N:Number of 1:M/N
Baseband Channels

Panel N


 Fig. 14 Active array using hybrid beamforming.

As array size gets large (more than

Average Tx Power per Element (dBm)

50 35
EIRP = 65 dBm 512 active elements), the power per
element becomes small enough to
Antenna Array Gain (dBi)

40 f = 28 GHz 30
35 y/2 = 5.4 mm allow SiGe, which can be integrated
GaN emax = 90%
30 4πemaxDarray2
25 into the core beamformer RFIC. In
25 Array Gain ≈
contrast, by using GaN for the front-
20 end, the same EIRP can be achieved
15 with 8 to 16x fewer channels.
10 15
5 System Power Dissipation
0 10 For an array delivering 64 dBm




EIRP, Figure 16 shows an analysis

Number of Active Elements
of the total PDISS of the beamformer
 Fig. 15 Optimum RFFE technology vs. array size. plus the front-end as a function of
the number of active elements in
110 40.0
each subarray panel. The PDISS is
Element Gain = 8 dBi EVM = 8%
EVM = 6%
shown for several error vector mag-
100 35.0
EVM = 4% nitude (EVM) levels, since the EVM
Power Dissipated (W)

Pave/Channel (dBm)

30.0 determines the power back-off and
25.0 efficiency achieved by the front-
20.0 end. We assume each beamformer
15.0 branch consumes 190 mW, which is
60 GaAs 10.0
the typical power consumption of
core beamformers in the market.6
50 3-Stage SiGe 5.0
The system on the far right of the
40 0 figure represents an all-SiGe solu-

tion with 512 elements, with an out-

Number of Active Channels put power per element of 2 dBm
 Fig. 16 System power dissipation vs. array size and EVM for 64 dBm EIRP. and consuming approximately 100
W. Moving left, the number of ele-
ments decreases, the PAVE per chan-
FRONT-END SEMICONDUCTOR of array size and antenna gain for a nel increases and PDISS is optimized
CHOICES uniform rectangular array delivering to a point where beamforming gain
The technology choice for the 65 dBm EIRP. The graph is overlaid starts to roll off sharply, and the
RFFE depends on the EIRP and with an indication of the power rang- PDISS to maintain the EIRP rapidly
G/NF requirements of the system. es best suited for each semiconduc- increases. The small steps in the dis-
Both are a function of beamforming tor technology. The limits were set sipation curves represent where the
gain, which is a function of the ar- based on benchmarks of each tech- front-end transitions from a single
ray size. To illustrate this, Figure 15 nology, avoiding exotic power-com- stage to two-stage and three-stage
shows the average PA power (PAVE) bining or methods that degrade designs to provide sufficient gain.
per channel needed as a function component reliability or efficiency. As stages are added, the efficiency

1875 µm
Parameter Units All SiGe GaN +SiGe
Average Output Power
dBm 2 20
per Channel
Power Dissipation per
mW 190 1329
2700 µm
Antenna Element Gain dBi 8 8 (a)
Number of Active
512 64
Channels LNA
Rx1 SW
EIRP dBmi 64 64
Total Power Dissipation W 97 97 Tx1
6 mm
Beamformer Die Area per LNA
mm2 2.3 2.3 SW
Channel Rx2
Front-End Die Area per PA
mm2 1.2 5.2 Tx2
Total SiGe Die Area mm2 1752 144 4.5 mm
Total GaN Die Area mm2 0 334

Die Cost Units Notes

All SiGe System Die Cost 1752 $/x

GaN + SiGe System Die
1647 $/x 4-inch GaN = 4.5x
Cost (4-inch GaN)
GaN + SiGe System Die
1146 $/x 6-inch GaN = 3x
Cost (6-inch GaN)

drops with the increase in power themselves. Using compound semi-

dissipation. conductor front-ends allows an im-
Designing to optimize system mediate 8x reduction in array size (c)
PDISS without regarding com- with no increase in PDISS. Even with
plexity or cost, an array of about lower-cost printed antenna tech-  Fig. 17 Integrated 39 GHz GaN front-
end MMIC – intentionally blurred (a),
128 elements with a two-stage, nology, this is a large saving in ex- dual-channel FEM (b) and package (c).
14 dBm output PA (24 dBm P1dB) pensive antenna-quality substrate
is the best choice. However, if we material. Considering component
cost, the current die cost per mm2 of lowest NF FEM for the 37 to 40 GHz
strive to optimize cost, complex-
150 nm GaN on SiC fabricated on band. To support the trend to inte-
ity and yield for a PDISS budget of
4-inch wafers is only 4.5x the cost grated transmit/receive arrays, the
under 100 W, the optimum selec-
of 8-inch 130 nm SiGe. As 6-inch front-end includes a PA, integrated
tion is the range of 48 to 64 active
GaN production lines shift into high T/R switch and a low NF LNA. The
channels using a three-stage GaN
volume, the cost of GaN relative to module was designed with sufficient
PA with an average output power
SiGe drops to 3x. A summary of the gain to be driven by core beamform-
of 20 to 23 dBm, depending on the
assumptions and a cost comparison er RFICs, which have a typical drive
EVM target. The trends shown in
of the relative raw die cost of the two level of 2 dBm. The FEM’s PAVE of 23
Figure 16 are less a function of PA
technologies is shown in Table 3. Us- dBm was selected from an analysis
efficiency and more a function of
ing a high-power density compound similar to that shown in Figure 16, and
beamformer inefficiency. In other
semiconductor like GaN on 6-inch the PSAT was determined by analyz-
words, the choice to increase array
wafers can save up to 35 percent ing the needed headroom to support
size 8x to allow an all-SiGe solution
in the raw die cost relative to an all- a back-off linearity of ≥ 33 dBc ACPR,
comes with a penalty, given that
SiGe architecture. Even though the EVM ≤ 4 percent and a 400 MHz or-
the input signal is divided many
cost of silicon technologies is lower thogonal frequency-division multiple
more ways and requires linearly bi-
per device, the cost of the complete access (OFDMA) waveform.
ased, power consuming devices to
system is significantly higher. A key design decision was deter-
amplify the signal back up.
mining if GaAs or GaN or a combi-
Cost Analysis GaN FRONT-END MODULES nation of both were needed. The
The cost of phased arrays include To validate the concept of a GaN die size for a GaAs PA would not al-
the RF components, printed circuit FEM for mmWave FWA arrays, Qorvo low the FEM to meet the tight 3.75
board material and the antennas set out to design the highest power, mm lattice spacing at 39 GHz. The
equivalent output power GaN PA is gain. In receive mode, the NF is 4.1 Vision–Framework and Overall Objectives of
the Future Development of IMT for 2020 and
4x smaller with no sacrifice in gain dB, and receive gain is 16 dB. The Beyond,” August 2015,
and a slight benefit in efficiency. package size is 4.5 mm × 6.0 mm × brec/itu-r/rec/m/R-REC-M.2083-0-201509-
Considering the LNA, the 90 nm 1.8 mm.7-8 I!!PDF-E.pdf.
2. International Telecommunications Union, Res-
GaAs PHEMT process was favored olution 238 (WRC-15), “Studies on Frequen-
due to its slightly superior NF. How- SUMMARY cy-Related Matters for International Mobile
Telecommunications Identification Including
ever, the net improvement was only FWA is rapidly approaching com- Possible Additional Allocations to the Mobile
a few tenths of a dB once the addi- mercialization. This is due to the Services on a Primary Basis in Portion(s) of the
tional bond wires and 50 Ω match- abundance of low-cost spectrum, Frequency Range 24.25 and 86 GHz for Fu-
ture Development of IMT-2020 and Beyond,”
ing networks were considered. The early regulatory and standards work 2015,
trade-off analysis concluded it was and the opportunity for operators R0C0A00000C0014PDFE.pdf.
better to stay with a monolithic GaN to quickly tap a new market. The re- 3. Federal Communicationws Commission, “Use
of Spectrum Bands Above 24 GHz for Mobile
design that allowed co-matching of maining challenge is the availability Radio Services, In the Matter of GN Docket
the PA, LNA and T/R switch. Such a of equipment capable of closing the No. 14-177, IB Docket No. 15-256, RM-11664,
WT Docket No. 10-112, IB Docket No. 97-95,”
design was lower risk, easier to as- link at a reasonable cost. Both hybrid July 2016,
semble and test, and the MMIC was beamforming and all-digital beam- match/FCC-16-89A1.pdf.
as compact as possible. The system forming architectures are being ex- 4. 3GPP TR 38.901, “Study on Channel Model
for Frequencies from 0.5 to 100 GHz,” Sep-
thermal analysis indicated that the plored. These architectures capitalize tember 2017,
higher junction temperature offered on the respective strengths of com- chive/38_series/38.901/
by GaN-on-SiC was critical for pas- mercial semiconductor processes. 5. A. F. Molisch et al., “Hybrid Beamforming for
Massive MIMO: A Survey,” IEEE Communi-
sively-cooled arrays. The use of GaN front-ends in either cations Magazine, Vol. 55, No. 9, 2017, pp.
As shown in Figure 17, the approach provides operators and 134–141.
6. B. Sadhu et al., “7.2 A 28GHz 32-Element
39 GHz FEM integrates two of the manufacturers a pathway to achiev- Phased-Array Transceiver IC with Concurrent
multi-function GaN MMICs into an ing high EIRP targets while minimiz- Dual Polarized Beams and 1.4 Degree Beam-
air-cavity, embedded heat-slug, ing cost, complexity, size and power steering Resolution for 5G Communication,”
2017 IEEE International Solid-State Circuits
surface-mount package, sized to dissipation. To prove the feasibility, Conference (ISSCC), San Francisco, Calif,
meet the array element spacing at Qorvo has developed a 39 GHz FEM 2017, pp. 128–129.
39 GHz. Each of the GaN MMICs based on a highly integrated GaN- 7. B. Kim and V. Z. Q. Li, “39 GHz GaN Front-End
MMIC for 5G Applications,” 2017 IEEE Com-
contains a three-stage linear PA, on-SiC T/R MMIC and is develop- pound Semiconductor Integrated Circuit Sym-
three-stage LNA and a low-loss, ing similar FEMs for other millimeter posium (CSICS), Miami, Fla., 2017, pp. 1–4.
8. “QPF4005 37-40.5 GaN Dual Channel FEM
high-linearity SPDT switch. The wave frequency bands proposed for Datasheet,”
FEM covers 37.1 to 40.5 GHz and 5G systems.n da006271.
provides 23 dBm average output
power, which supports 256-QAM References
1. International Telecommunications Union, ITU-
EVM levels, with 24 dB transmit R Radiocommunications Sector of ITU, “IMT