IMEC Validates Flexible Air Interface for Nomadic Terminals

IMEC has validated the hardware implementation of its software-defined radio digital baseband – called flexible air interface – for nomadic terminals, achieving power consumption comparable with dedicated solutions. The cost- and power-efficient architecture supports all radio standards from next generation cellular (3GPP-LTE) to high data rate WLAN-WiMAX-DVB (OFDM-MIMO-based).

The FLAI platform achieves very high performance at low power, proven by only 300mW power consumption for the next-generation standard WLAN IEEE 802.11n using 2×2 MIMO (multiple-input multiple output with 2 antennas at input and 2 antennas at output). Ultra-low standby power is realized using a digital front-end featuring an application-specific integrated processor, which supports efficient wake-up of the FLAI on the detected incoming signals. VStation emulator-based validation of the platform was shown in a wireless multi-mode operation for WLAN and 3GPP-LTE standards. The chip tape-out of the FLAI platform (10mm2 in 90nm CMOS) is scheduled for Q1 2007.

The flexible air interface (FLAI) was realized using an in-house developed heterogeneous multi-processor systems-on-chip platform. An intelligent controller exploits the scalability and heterogeneity of the platform to enable minimal power for the different operation modes. Next to an ARM controller for MAC functionality and power management and the digital front-end processor to support low standby power, the FLAI platform also includes two processors for baseband processing and foreword error correction. These processors were derived from IMEC’s C-programmable ADRES (Architecture for Dynamically Reconfigurable Embedded Systems) using its corresponding compiler.

The FLAI comes together with a full design environment. This enables industrial partners to efficiently develop their proprietary wireless software-defined radio platforms based on IMEC’s architecture.

“With this hardware validation achieving excellent performance, our software-defined radio digital baseband is ready for transfer to the industry;” said Rudy Lauwereins, Vice President Design Technology for Integrated Information and Communication Systems at IMEC. “Our FLAI solution enables seamless connectivity for mobile terminals operating at limited battery power.”

The FLAI was developed within IMEC’s multi-mode multimedia program with the support of Barco Silex, Barco’s center of competence for micro-electronic design, CoWare and Mentor Graphics.

About IMEC
IMEC is a world-leading independent research center in nanoelectronics and nanotechnology. Its research focuses on the next generations of chips and systems, and on the enabling technologies for ambient intelligence. IMEC’s research bridges the gap between fundamental research at universities and technology development in industry. Its unique balance of processing and system know-how, intellectual property portfolio, state-of-the-art infrastructure and its strong network of companies, universities and research institutes worldwide position IMEC as a key partner for shaping technologies for future systems.

As an expansion of its wireless autonomous microsystems research, IMEC has created a legal entity in the Netherlands. Stichting IMEC Nederland runs activities at the Holst Centre, an independent R&D institute that develops generic technologies and technology platforms for autonomous wireless transducer solutions and systems-in-foil.

IMEC is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has representatives in the US, China and Japan. Its staff of more than 1450 people includes more than 500 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2005, its revenue was EUR 197 million.