In addition to drawing enormous crowds, the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain hosted an array of 1300 companies. Those companies were hoping to attract the attention of original-equipment-manufacturing (OEM) designers, mobile-phone system designers, and network operators. They occupied exhibition booths that came in all sizesfrom large enough to accommodate the population of a small town to those that could just about squeeze in a couple of items of furniture. But then, technology breakthroughs come in all shapes and sizes.

Two companies in particular generated excitement at the show: RF Micro Devices and Global Foundries. Both were showing technology that had a direct relevance to efficient power usagea theme that was evident throughout the MWC event. RF Micro Devices used MWC to debut its PowerSmart power platforms, which feature a new RF Configurable Power Core. According to the company, that core leverages functional efficiency while processing all known cellular modulation schemes including GSM/GPRS, EDGE, EDGE Evolution, CDMA, third-generation (3G; TD-SCDMA or WCDMA/HSPA+), and fourth-generation (4G; LTE or WiMAX) communications.

With PowerSmart, RFMD is promising to enable a new generation of global smart phones and mobile Internet devices, which will require three or more 3G or 4G bands. The RF Configurable Power Core at the heart of each platform incorporates all power-amplification and RF power-management functionality. It also includes switching and signal-conditioning functionality in a compact reference design.

From a power perspective, RFMD's platforms could help to extend battery life and reduce average thermal dissipation. Essentially, they maximize power efficiency across data rates (voice only to LTE) and during non-ideal load conditions, which also are known as "antenna mismatch." Each PowerSmart platform uses a standardized digital interface (SDI) and is optimized to mate with leading multi-band HSPA+/EDGE/GPRS RF transceivers.