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27 October 2015

ACCO starts mass production of CMOS multi-mode multi-band power amplifier for 3G/LTE smartphones

ACCO Semiconductor Inc of Sunnyvale, CA, USA, a fabless provider of RF front-end component manufactured using standard high-volume bulk CMOS processes, has announced mass production of the AC26120, a CMOS multi-mode multi-band power amplifier (MMPA) in a low-profile (0.69mm-high) LGA package for thin smartphone handset designs and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

ACCO notes that CMOS power amplifiers have so far had limited success, mainly in 2G and single-band 3G handsets. However, designed for global handsets and IoT applications with support for quad-band GSM/EDGE and 12-band 3G/LTE (covering frequency bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 20, 23, 25, 26, 27, 34 and 39), the AC26120 is claimed to be the first and most integrated (5mm x 5mm) MMPA fabricated using a standard, low-cost CMOS processes, providing the cost, design and supply-chain advantages of CMOS integration combined with competitive performance.

ACCO has developed and patented what it claims is a unique transistor design that delivers the performance of typical gallium arsenide (GaAs) power amplifiers yet uses standard CMOS fabrication processes. "ACCO's technology drives the integration of all the PAs and controllers into a single die, eliminating complex manufacturing techniques that use unreliable and expensive gold bonding wires," says ACCO's CEO Greg Caltabiano. "In addition, the consistent CMOS fabrication process enables the replacement of 50+ individual discrete components with a single integrated passive device," he adds. 

The use of standard CMOS processing brings the advantages of Moore's Law to the RF front-end, the final non-silicon 'holdout' in the phone. This allows the entire smartphone to ride the same decreasing cost curve while increasing functionality and reliability, as experienced in the rest of the electronics industry, says ACCO.

"CMOS power amplifiers (PAs) have so far had difficulty matching the performance and features of GaAs-based PAs in LTE mobile devices," notes Christopher Taylor, director of RF & Wireless Components at market reseach firm Strategy Analytics. "However, we have always held that CMOS has great potential in terms of production cost, integration and consistency, and will eventually win a significant share of the growing LTE PA market, which we estimate will soon exceed $3bn per year," he adds. "By addressing the shortcomings of earlier CMOS PAs from the phone manufacturers' perspective, ACCO is leading the way to wider use in LTE devices," he believes. 

ACCO is ramping up AC26120 production into various brands of LTE smartphones that are now shipping in multiple countries throughout Asia and Europe. The firm says that it will continue to leverage its patented technology to develop new CMOS solutions for the RF front-end of mobile communications products.

Tags: CMOS PAs GaAs PAs

Visit: www.acco-semi.com

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