Evolving communication standards like LTE-A and 5G are driving future RF architectures and, consequently, creating challenges for RF front-end module design in terms of miniaturization, performance, and support for technologies that boost data throughputs by improving spectral efficiency.
To meet the ongoing need for higher performance and reduced component size in multimode- and multiband-capable handsets, companies are shifting their module integration strategies from combining similar building blocks in a single package to adopting multifunctional front ends based on diverse technologies. These development efforts target products based on a single, fully integrated RF module for each frequency range, including multimode/multiband power amplifiers (PAs), duplexers, RF switches, and RF matching.
Module and subsystem designers often use more than one technology in a complete design. These technologies include gallium-arsenide (GaAs) and gallium-nitride (GaN) monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs), silicon (Si) RF integrated circuits (RFICs), and multiple-layer laminates. Each technology is encapsulated in a specific process design kit (PDK) that details the electrical and physical attributes of the manufacturing process and front-end building blocks (component libraries).
A multi-technology design flow that supports multiple PDKs and circuit/electromagnetic (EM) co-simulation is used to analyze the electrical interactions between the bulk-acoustic-wave (BAW) and surface-acoustic-wave (SAW) filters (based on equivalent circuit models) and multi-layer laminate package. It provides comprehensive module analysis and optimization. However, the Si RFIC switch, low-noise amplifier (LNA), and PA development is often executed in Cadence software using a Cadence Si PDK.