Test And Chip Breakthroughs Create Smaller, Faster, More Dependable Consumer Products

June 13, 2012
Wireless consumer-electronic products increasingly include data-intensive applications. Meanwhile, applications below 10 GHz such as wireless local-area networking (WLAN) face spectrum scarcity. Consequently, wireless-system designers have to explore ...

Wireless consumer-electronic products increasingly include data-intensive applications. Meanwhile, applications below 10 GHzsuch as wireless local-area networking (WLAN)face spectrum scarcity. Consequently, wireless-system designers have to explore higher frequency bands, such as the unlicensed band around 60 GHz. This band is available globally and enables multi-gigabit/second wireless communication over short distances. To make 60-GHz radio solutions a realistic proposition, however, cost, size and power consumption need to be reduced. Belgian research center Imec and Japanese conglomerate Panasonic believe that their ultra-low-power CMOS-based solution is a step toward solving these problems.

The transceiver chip is capable of data rates to 7 Gb/s over short distances. It achieves its performance capability via the four channels specified by the IEEE 802.11ad standard. For example, the transceiver front-end prototype achieves an error vector magnitude (EVM) beyond -7 dB for 16-state quadrature amplitude modulation (16QAM) in the four channels specified by that standard. The transmitter signal path consumes 90 mW with +10.2 dBm output power at 1-dB compression. The receiver signal path, which comprises a low-noise amplifier (LNA) and mixer, consumes 35 mW with a noise figure of 5.5 dB and 30 dB gain. The chip survives electrostatic discharge (ESD) of more than 4 kV based on the human body model (HBM).

The integrated circuit (IC) is fabricated in 40-nm, low-power digital CMOS. With a core area of 0.7 mm2, this transceiver front-end solution is suitable for use in phased antenna arrays. Chip area is kept low with the use of lumped componentseven at 60 GHzin conjunction with compact, millimeter-wave, CMOS layout techniques.

Set-top boxes, tablet personal computers (PCs), and smartphones boast digital video interfaces, such as the high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) and mobile high-definition link (MHL). These interfaces need to be tested for functionality and compliance, which is the goal of the newly developed video test center (VTC) from Rohde & Schwarz. This entirely modular platform provides real-time protocol and media-content analysis (see photo). It can be modified to meet the requirements of specific test environments. The platform also can be upgraded to comply with new standards.

The test center accommodates up to eight test modules. Separate options are available for the HDMI and MHL interfaces. In combination with the HDMI options, the VTC performs real-time analyses of video and audio parameters as well as information frames. To test sources and sinks, it can perform system protocol tests in line with the latest HDMI-compliance test, specification 1.4c.

Also targeting MHL and HDMI signals are options for the automatic analysis of media content. The R&S VT-K2100 video-analysis option measures the timing and level of each video signal component in real time. In doing so, it makes it possible to verify whether color transmission is correct. The R&S VT-K2110 AV inspection and R&S VT-K2111 AV distortion-analysis options assist users in performing picture-difference analyses. In addition to the graphical result display, objective measured values like PSNR, SSIM, and MOS are displayed in real time. Bit errors in video content, for example, also can be identified. One option even includes a conclusive audio-analysis function. The R&S VTC identifies key parameters, such as audio level and frequency response.

The VTC has an 11-in. touchscreen. It also can be operated remotely via LAN using a PC or tablet. The VXI-11 interface allows the device to be integrated into automated test setups. The VTC and the VT-B2360/2361 HDMI RX optionsas well as all software optionswill be available this August. Currently, Rohde & Schwarz is developing an analog audio/video interface module and a modulator module for broadcasting standards.

About the Author

Paul Whytock | Editor-in-Chief

Paul Whytock is European Editor for Microwaves & RF and European Editor-in-Chief for Electronic Design. He reports on the latest news and technology developments in Europe for his US readers while providing his European engineering audience with global news coverage from the electronics sector. Trained originally as a design engineer with Ford Motor Co., Whytock holds an HNC in mechanical, electrical, and production engineering.

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