IBM SiGe Technology Improves Power Amps for Cell Phones

Clears Path For Higher Levels of Component Integration

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EAST FISHKILL, NY - 14 Jan 2002: IBM today announced an improved version of a key component used widely in cell phones and other wireless products. Called a "power amplifier," the tiny circuit is expected to have a big impact in reducing the cost and size of these personal electronic products.

These are the first available radio-frequency (RF) power amplifier products to be fabricated using IBM's advanced Silicon Germanium (SiGe) technology, heralding a new era in the design of portable wireless communications devices.

"This is a breakthrough in this product category," said Dr. Bernard Meyerson, vice president, Communications Resources and Development Center, IBM Microelectronics. "Some experts thought such chips couldn't be done in SiGe, or that they had to be manufactured in gallium-arsenide (GaAs), a process that's expensive."

These SiGe chips "run cooler" than GaAs, taking advantage of the superior thermal conductivity of SiGe, resulting in a measurable improvement in thermal reliability. And since SiGe BiCMOS technology can incorporate numerous important functions on a single chip, the power amps can be manufactured in very small packages, reducing the total layout area on a product's "mother board."

IBM's new power amps will enhance the development of portable wireless communication devices with several competitive features important to wireless OEMs, such as gain, added power efficiency and standby current, while also exceeding the industry requirements for ruggedness.

There are three SiGe power amplifier devices in the suite introduced today. The IBM 2022 TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) IS-54 power amplifier at 800MHz; the IBM 2018 CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) IS-95 also at 800MHz and the IBM 2017 PCS CDMA IS-95 at 1900 MHz, all manufactured by IBM in its SiGe-based BiCMOS 5AM 0.35 micron technology, offering a combination of enhanced passive device performance, low cost and fast wafer-build time to provide optimum design flexibility. These new chips will be manufactured at IBM's facility in Burlington, Vt.

The IBM 2022 TDMA power amplifier is currently available, the IBM 2017 PCS CDMA is available as a prototype and the IBM 2018 CDMA will be available as a prototype next month.