Qualcomm introduces RF360 front end solution

Qualcomm, the company behind smartphone and tablet chipsets, has introduced the RF360 front end solution at the Mobile World Congress. The RF360 front end solution is  a comprehensive, system-level solution that addresses cellular radio frequency band fragmentation and enables for the first time a single, global 4G LTE design for mobile devices. One of the big challenges for chip makers is that there are many smartphone bands—up to 40 worldwide, and the RF360 will combine them all under one roof.

The Qualcomm RF360 front end solution comprises a family of chips designed to mitigate this problem while improving RF performance and helping smartphone makers more easily develop multi-band, multi-mode mobile devices supporting all seven cellular modes. These cellular modes are LTE-FDD, LTE-TDD, WCDMA, EV-DO, CDMA 1x, TD-SCDMA and GSM/EDGE. The RF360 front end solution includes the industry’s first envelope power tracker for 3G/4G LTE mobile devices along with a dynamic antenna matching tuner and an integrated power amplifier-antenna switch. There is also an innovative 3D-RF packaging solution incorporating key front end components, and the Qualcomm RF360 solution is designed to work seamlessly, reduce power consumption and improve radio performance while reducing the RF front end footprint inside of a smartphone by up to 50 percent compared to the current generation of devices, thus bringing more battery life out of the devices that they will be installed on.

The RF360 also reduces design complexity and development costs, allowing smartphone makers to develop new multi-band, multi-mode LTE products faster and more efficiently. By combining the new RF front end chipsets with Qualcomm Snapdragon all-in-one mobile processors and Gobi LTE modems, Qualcomm Technologies can supply smartphone makers with a comprehensive, optimized, system-level LTE solution that is truly global.

“The wide range of radio frequencies used to implement 2G, 3G and 4G LTE networks globally presents an ongoing challenge for mobile device designers. Where 2G and 3G technologies each have been implemented on four to five different RF bands globally, the inclusion of LTE brings the total number of cellular bands to approximately 40,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president of product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “Our new RF devices are tightly integrated and will allow us the flexibility and scalability to supply OEMs of all types, from those requiring only a region-specific LTE solution, to those needing LTE global roaming support.”

What will make up the Qualcomm RF360? One of those parts is the Dynamic Antenna Matching Tuner (QFE15xx), the world’s first modem-assisted and configurable antenna-matching technology. It extends antenna range to operate over 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE frequency bands ranging from 700-2700 MHz. This, in conjunction with modem control and sensor input, dynamically improves the antenna’s performance and connection reliability in the presence of physical signal impediments, like the user’s hand.

Next is the Envelope Power Tracker (QFE11xx), the industry’s first modem-assisted envelope tracking technology designed for 3G and 4G LTE mobile devices. This chip is designed to reduce overall thermal footprint and RF power consumption by up to 30 percent, depending on the mode of operation. By reducing power and heat dissipation, it enables smartphone makers to design thinner smartphones with longer battery life.

Third is the Integrated Power Amplifier/Antenna Switch (QFE23xx), the industry’s first chip featuring an integrated CMOS power amplifier (PA) and antenna switch with multi-band support across 2G, 3G and 4G LTE cellular modes. This innovative solution provides unprecedented functionality in a single component, which includes simplified routing and one of the smallest PA/antenna switch footprints in the industry, which also contributes to longer battery life.

Last is the RF POP (QFE27xx), the industry’s first 3D RF packaging solution. It integrates the QFE23xx multimode, multiband power amplifier and antenna switch, with all the associated SAW filters and duplexers in a single package. Designed to be easily interchangeable, the QFE27xx allows smartphone makers to change the substrate configuration to support global and/or region-specific frequency band combinations, allowing smartphones with the RF360 to be used anywhere around the world. The QFE27xx RF POP enables a highly integrated multi-band, multi-mode, single-package RF front end solution that is truly global.

We can see the RF360 in smartphones as early as the second half of 2013.