System-on-package solutions for multi-band RF front end

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: Advances in microelectronics technology have enabled us to integrate a complex electronic system (such as a radio) on a single chip or in a single package module, known as system-on-chip (SoC) and system-on-package (SoP) paradigms. This brings not only new opportunities for system integration, but also challenges in design and implementation. One of these challenges is how to achieve an optimum total solution of system integration via chip and package co-design, because there is no tool or design methodology available for such kind of optimization. This thesis focuses on innovative multi-band multi-standard radio front-end design and explores a new design methodology. The motivation of developing this design methodology is to achieve an optimum total solution for radio system implementation via chip and package co-design and co-optimization.The methodology starts from RF packaging and components modeling. Necessary models for both on-chip and off-chip passives are developed. Parasitic effects of packages for radio chips are modeled for particular frequencies. Compared with high-speed digital packaging, RF packaging normally deals with narrow band signals. It is possible to absorb some unwanted parasitics by designing proper port matching networks. In addition, cost-performance trade-offs are performed. In this context, we first developed process and technology based cost models, which include parameters like chip real estate, raw materials, package, test and rework. Impact of process variation on final yield has also been considered in the models by using a statistical analysis approach. Performance of different design options is measured by a special FoM (figure-of-merit). Each type of analog/RF circuit (such as LNA, PA and ADC) has its own dedicated FoM. Through a series of cost-performance trade-offs for different on-chip versus off-chip passives and partitions, an optimum total solution is obtained.Finally, this methodology was demonstrated via a number of design examples for multi-band multi-standard radio front-end. The author has explored the optimum solutions for different circuit architectures and process technologies encompassing parallel, concurrent and digitally programmable multi-band radio frond-end blocks. It is interesting to find that, for complex RF circuits like a multi-band multi-standard radio, moving some passives off-chip will have significant cost-savings. In addition to the above contributions, the author has also developed an MCM-D technology on LCP and glass substrates, based on metal deposition and BCB spin-coating at KTH clean room. The author has also performed some preliminary studies on UWB radio for RFID applications.

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