Combining software-defined radio (SDR) architecture with silicon germanium (SiGe) process technology, SiGe Semiconductor Inc. has unwrapped the world's first Galileo-ready receiver for mass consumer electronics. Thus, enabling the integration of high-accuracy navigation services into portable devices including laptop computers, PDAs, media players, cell phones and cameras. Galileo is a new satellite system that will enhance navigation and positioning performance compared with the existing GPS system. In fact, the new third-generation dual-mode receiver IC SE4120L is designed to process GPS and Galileo signals to improve user experience of location-based services, thereby enabling products that determine position data much more consistently, more quickly, and with greater accuracy than with GPS alone. According to the developer, these benefits are expected to drive the global satellite navigation market to U.S. $30 billion by the time the Galileo system becomes operational in 2008.

Labeled SE4120, the SDR-based receiver architecture ensures that changes to the standards can be supported with simple software upgrades. This allows manufacturers to design their systems now, ensuring they are among the first to market with Galileo-ready products, said John Brewer, vice president of marketing at SiGe Semiconductor. Additionally, SDR architecture also minimizes board area, power consumption and cost, said SiGe Semiconductor.

“With the new SE4120L receiver, SiGe Semiconductor is the only semiconductor supplier able to meet the needs of OEMs wishing to enter the emerging Galileo market,” said Stuart Strickland, product line director at SiGe Semconductor. “Our unique soft-ware-defined signal processing architecture allows manufacturers to install and consumers to purchase Galileo-ready systems with confidence.”

The device also features high integration to reduce the system bill of materials (BOMs) and overall cost. The integrated architecture includes an on-chip high-gain LNA capable of delivering 18 dB of gain at a low noise figure of 1.6 dB without the need for bulky active antennas and costly, power-hungry external amplification. Eliminating these components reduces BOM cost and power consumption by more than 50% while minimizing board area and maintaining high overall performance, the manufacturer said. The SE4120L is optimized for the lower-power consumption, operating at less than 10 mA from a 2.7 V to 3.3 V supply. Under controlled conditions, the systems using the SE4120L are capable of tracking satellite signals down to as low as -170 dBm.

The receiver also includes a linear AGC and a multibit analog to digital converter (ADC) with low digital IF. The device sampling is software configurable and includes support for low bandwidth serialized multibit I/Q output. A PLL synthesizer and image reject mixer further reduce external component count to simplify integration. The IF filters are programmable in software to support GPS and Galileo simultaneously or GPS operation alone. The SE4120L is supplied in a 4 × 4 × 0.9 mm QFN RoHS-compliant MSL1 package. The receiver is sampling now to key customers, with mass production scheduled for the first quarter of 2007. The device is priced at $3 in 100k unit quantities.

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