Digitally-assisted RF IC design techniques for reliable performance

Jang Joon Lee, Purdue University


Semiconductor industries have competitively scaled down CMOS devices to attain benefits of low cost, high performance, and high integration density in digital integrated circuits. On the other hand, deep scaled technologies inextricably accompany a large process variation, supply voltage scaling, and reduction in breakdown voltages of transistors. When it comes to RF/analog IC design, CMOS scaling adversely affects its reliability due to large performance variation and limited linearity. For addressing the issues related to variations and linearity, this research proposes the following digitally-assisted RF circuit design techniques: self-calibration system for RF phase shifters and wide dynamic range LNAs. Due to PVT variations in scaled technologies, RF phase shifter design becomes more challenging with device scaling. In the proposed self-calibration topology, we devised a novel phase sensing method and a pulsewidth-to-digital converter. The feedback controller is also designed in digital domain, which is robust to PVT variations. These unique techniques enable a sensing/control loop tolerant to PVT variations. The self-calibration loop was applied to a 7 to 13GHz phase shifter. With the calibration, the estimated phase error is less than 2 degrees. To overcome the linearity issue in scaled technologies, a digitally-controlled dual-mode LNA design is presented. A narrowband (5.1GHz) and a wideband (0.8 to 6GHz) LNA can be toggled between high-gain and high-linearity modes by digital control bits according to the input signal power. A compact design, which provides negligible performance degradation by additional circuitry, is achieved by sharing most of the components between the two operation modes. The narrowband and the wideband LNA achieves an input-referred P1dB of −1.8dBm and +4.2dBm, respectively.




Jung, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Electrical engineering

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