At this week’s International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), imec, a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, presents the first ultra-wide IEEE 802.15.4z transmitter chip (IR-UWB) ) striking a balance between accurate and secure PCB detection capabilities for indoor location and the need for increased energy efficiency.
Manufactured in 28nm CMOS (with an occupied core area of only 0.15mm2), the chip aims to enable the next generation of cost-effective small-form factor PCB operations. It is tailored to achieve the highest ever power consumption of 4.9 milliwatts (mW) in a standard-compliant operation, while complying with PCB’s stringent spectral emission regulations. It is also the first IR-PCB transmitter chip under 5mW compliant with the newly released IEEE 802.15.4z standard for even more accurate and safer PCB flow measurements.
In-house localization and micro-localization applications are becoming more and more popular. Think of keyless access solutions for vehicles, hotels and office buildings and asset monitoring in warehouses or factories. In essence, high-bandwidth technology is perfectly suited to accurate and secure internal localization use cases. It is even more so since the introduction of the IEEE 802.15.4z standard last year, which improved the PCB’s physical layer to increase the integrity and accuracy of flow measurements. However, PCB’s energy budget has limited widespread adoption of the technology, in favor of a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) competitor, which has more than 10 times less power consumption.
“Therefore, the IR-PCB transmitter chip we are introducing at ISSCC is nothing but revolutionary in the area of high accuracy and security for indoor location tracking,” explains Christian Bachmann, PCB program manager and Proximity Secure Bluetooth at imec . “Its innovative, digital-intensive architecture was designed in a 28nm CMOS process, resulting in an area consumption of just 0.15mm2. And it comes with the highest ever power consumption of 4.9mW, which is ten times below the energy budget cutting. -edge PCB products.
“This research effort is part of imec’s strategy to make PCB an ultra-low-power and cost-effective technology option for a new generation of small battery powered indoor cases and micro-location use cases,” he adds.
The chip is based on an innovative digital polar transmitter architecture to significantly reduce the power consumption of the integrated circuit to just 4.9 mW. In addition, Injection Locked Ring Oscillator (ILRO) technology allows for even more energy savings by allowing for a fast duty cycle between IR-PCB transmitter signal pulses within a package and allowing for off power on parts of the transmitter between these pulses.
Just as important, the imec IR-PCB transmitter chip complies with strict global spectrum regulations that specify the frequencies a PCB transmitter can emit, to avoid interference with other wireless services. To this end, imec researchers propose an asynchronous pulse modeling design that meets international regulations on spectral emission in the 3–10 GHz bands, allowing the transmitter to operate at maximum power spectral density ( PSD).
“This innovative development is the latest addition to imec’s history in the development of micro-localization technologies and very low-power digital RF circuits. However, our ambition goes well beyond the development of a single PCB transmitter. stand for it, is the design of a complete transceiver, including new high performance detection, direction detection and localization algorithms, which will allow our partners to fully explore the opportunities offered by next-generation PCB applications, where is used only to measure the distance between two PCB radius, but also to detect passive objects “, says Bachmann.