UK field-programmable RF transceiver specialists Lime Microsystems and logic device leader Altera Corp. have agreed to focus jointly on developing and promoting programmable solutions intended for a range of broadband wireless markets.

The companies hope the agreement will result in the development of optimized field-programmable radio-frequency (FPRF) transceivers—digital RF and baseband solutions that will enable system designers to cut costs, lower power consumption, shorten time-to-market, and customize radio designs for wireless infrastructure, military, industrial, test, and medical applications.

Download this article in .PDF format
This file type includes high resolution graphics and schematics when applicable.

The demand for mobile data traffic continues to escalate and, as a consequence, small-cell wireless backhaul systems are going to have to handle approximately 30% of mobile traffic by 2016, according to a recent market study by analysts Infonetics.

This communication trend is seriously influencing the design of mobile networks and means operators are constantly evaluating ways in which to simplify small-cell deployment and subsequently reduce costs.

Altera believes its field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), applied in conjunction with the single-chip RF transceiver technology from Lime Microsystems that supports mainstream global wireless communication standards, will facilitate small-cell deployment and enable the development of lower-cost networks.

Additionally, Myriad-RF, a family of open-source hardware projects for the prototyping and creation of fully configurable wireless platforms, will also give developers easy access to Altera-Lime optimized reference designs, circuit boards, and software stacks and drivers.

The financial investment in Lime by Altera means the companies will work closely in marketing, sales, and technical support activities worldwide. In addition, the two companies will produce reference designs that can be further customized for specific applications and features.

Altera is convinced this will expand its FPGA customer base to include wireless applications beyond carrier-grade base stations and remote radio units. These applications include enterprise wireless networks, small-cell carrier-grade infrastructure, military communication systems, software-defined radio (SDR), and machine-to-machine (M2M) systems, test equipment, and high-end consumer products.

Single-chip MIMO transceiver

Lime Microsystems also launched its second-generation LMS7002M, a CMOS multiple-standard/frequency single-chip multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) transceiver based on  65-nm silicon CMOS semiconductor technology. The company claims the use of 65-nm CMOS  cuts the cost and power consumption of its FPRF transceiver technology.

The chip offers  2 × 2 MIMO functionality  while supporting all cellular standards and frequencies, including 2G, 3G,  4G/LTE and their TDD/FDD variants among numerous other standards, such as WiFi.

The device  features DSP functions, an 8051 microcontroller, multiple 12-b ADCs and DACs, LNAs, filters, PLLs and mixers. Lime also says its second-generation FPRF transceiver extends the low-frequency operational range to 50 MHz. This gives the chip a continuous range  of 50 MHz to 3.8 GHz.

The transceiver’s capabilities, such as its on-chip DSP, enhances analog gain and filtering with digital control and helps reduce  overall power consumption.

New features, such as the on-chip microcontroller, should  simplify calibration and installation. The chip is programmed by a serial bit stream, and designed using a free open source configuration tool suite.

The LMS7002M can operate from a single supply rail of +1.8 VDC with individual blocks capable of being powered down when not required for further power savings.  

Download this article in .PDF format
This file type includes high resolution graphics and schematics when applicable.