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Data at the center of RF Foundry Growth
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Fayyaz Singaporewala, Peter Rabbeni — GLOBALFOUNDRIES

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No one could have imagined the impact of the mobile handset on society when it was first introduced commercially over 20 years ago. Today we depend on our cell phones for many different tasks from making simple calls to watching high definition live video. Not only has this device changed the way we work and play, but it has also transformed the network and created a vehicle for operators to monetize their investment. There is no doubt that the consumption of data is at the center of mobile handset growth and there are three major industry trends that will continue to not only drive demand for handsets but create industries and applications which will leverage the wireless network. All of these trends contribute to the growth in RF foundry.

These trends are also driving greater RF complexity. For example, handsets now need to support multiple frequency bands with more complex modulation schemes, necessitating the implementation of innovative control schemes which preserve signal integrity and lower power consumption.

On the network side, base stations are required to aggregate multiple high-bandwidth users and deliver this data seamlessly across the network with reduced latency and always-on availability. Finally, the concept of machine-to-machine communications leveraging wireless connectivity with sensors to create "intelligent data" is already gaining momentum in addressing modern day analytics across multiple industries. Smart meters, connected vending machines and intelligent solar arrays are just some of the applications that will leverage wireless connectivity and these RF foundry technologies. Across the major segments, there are many applications which will require specialized RF foundry processes in order to meet specific performance and cost goals.

Silicon based RF solutions provide the greatest amount of flexibility among semiconductor technologies. Although the Johnson limit dictates the limitation of silicon in comparison to more traditional RF technologies like III-V's, the ability to integrate RF with digital control provides designers the capability to innovate in ways never thought of and approach or even exceed the performance of these traditional technologies. Applying DSP concepts to RF applications is not new, but the advancements in digital processing have reached a point where the benefits of these concepts can be efficiently realized. Some emerging examples of these concepts include envelope tracking, tuning and predistortion. Again, these are not new concepts, but it is only now that silicon technologies have advanced to a point which makes the application of these concepts to RF possible.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES provides a very broad RF technology, which is tuned to specific applications and help customers balance the tradeoff between performance and cost. GLOBALFOUNDRIES' RFCMOS capabilities were initially proven at 0.35μm and 0.25μm nodes, and subsequently developed and deployed at the 0.18μm, 0.13μm, 0.11μm, 55nm, 65nm and 40nm nodes. The 65nm RFCMOS solution was jointly developed with IBM under the Joint Development Alliance (JDA). RFCMOS capability at 28nm is currently being developed, as well as mmWave solutions at 40nm.

The breadth and depth of design enablement makes the technology not only accessible but empowering to a broad audience in the RF design community.

Extensive RF device options, supported by accurate silicon validated models provide the basis of our comprehensive RF Design Kits, which include advanced features such as EM simulation and inductor synthesis.

Application success examples:

We have supplied a large volume of solutions for a wide range of applications including mobile communications, consumer electronics and computer networking. Examples include Bluetooth ICs, WiFi transceiver ICs (including 60GHz applications), Digital Radio ICs, GPS Transceiver SoC ICs, LTE Transceiver ICs and Mobile TV tuner ICs. We also partner with industry renowned RF design house Catena on complex and innovative RF designs that showcase GLOBALFOUNDRIES' RF solution capabilities.

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About the Author

Fayyaz Singaporewala

Fayyaz Singaporewala received his M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, USA, in 2008. With over 13 years of semiconductor industry experience, Fayyaz has held a number of senior technical positions in semiconductor processing, product and yield engineering, as well as R&D work in strained Silicon. For the past 4 years, he has been senior staff manager at the GLOBALFOUNDRIES Market Specialized Solutions Product Marketing department, focusing on wireless connectivity and RF solutions.

Peter Rabbeni

Peter Rabbeni received his BSEE degree from Stevens Institute of Technology and MSEE from the University of Massachusetts in 1986 and 1991, respectively. Peter joined GLOBALFOUNDRIES in October 2012 and is currently the Director of RF Field Marketing responsible for RF foundry marketing and business development worldwide. He has over 24 years of experience in RF system design/development, field applications support, technical sales, business development and marketing. Prior to joining GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Peter held various senior technical positions at Raytheon, Ericsson and IBM. In 1986, he joined Raytheon Company in Marlborough, MA where he was responsible for leading the development and deployment of critical RF subsystems for the US Navy's NESP satellite communications program. In 1996, he joined Ericsson in Research Triangle Park, NC where he contributed to the development and production of the company's first Japan PDC and US CDMA handset products. While at Ericsson, he was also responsible for the system definition and development of custom RFICs for future handset platforms. In 2001, he joined IBM Microelectronics where he held several senior technical sales positions supporting foundry applications consulting, business development and marketing within the US territory and overseas. In 2010, Peter was appointed business development program director for IBM's specialty foundry business where he was responsible for setting the divisions 200mm portfolio, roadmap and investment strategy. Most recently, his focus has been on the future application of SiGe, RFCMOS and RFSOI technologies for power amplifiers (PAs) and front end modules (FEMs) for multi-mode/multiband (MMMB) mobile applications. Peter has co-authored several papers and is a member of the IEEE.