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The networked society

We live in a world where wireless communication has become virtually ubiquitous. Ever since the emergence of AM radio the range of Radio Frequency (RF) applications has steadily increased. Especially in recent years the number of consumers using RF devices has exploded. Wireless network hotspots at airports, hotels and public places provide a 24 /7 access to the internet, remote controllers switch to RF, and GPS and collision radars in cars. The hitherto existing frequency bands are getting crowded, and new frequency bands in the range of 4 to 100 GHz are allocated to provide higher data rates for new applications.

Considering both the large variety of wireless communication channels and the fact that they are all used at the same time by widely varying applications future IC design faces a great many challenges. New IC design automation tools are needed to develop nanoscale designs of unprecedented complexity and performance and, in addition, enable the achievement of single-pass design success to avoid costly re-spins and the loss of market opportunities.

With large parts of today’s frequency spectrum being already assigned to legacy communication systems new areas of the spectrum have to be opened to meet the demands of broadband channels with 24/7 availability. For next-generation wireless terminals with SHF and EHF band communication facilities specific, sensitive RF modules have to be combined with large, mostly digital circuitry in the same package and preferably even on the same die.
The key to enable the realisation of single-chip integration of high-GHz wireless modules is to resolve the shortcomings in available design flows. According to the Sematech roadmap this technology step requires both novel CAD tools and mathematical methods to deal with

  • analogue/digital mixed signal simulation
  • with challenges in system design and methodologies
  • parasitic extraction
  • device and EM simulation
  • model extraction
  • optimisation tools.

Wireless communication at an airport

By combining the research results of several domains to achieve a clear view on the dependencies between different parts of the complete RF design, ICESTARS will deliver the methodologies and prototype tools for RF design of the future.