Plextek RFI and Filtronic Broadband develop 26GHz SMT module for 5G

Plextek RFI, a UK design house specialising in microwave and millimetre-wave IC design, has announced that it has developed a multi-chip module (MCM) to cover the recently-designated European ‘Pioneer Band’ for millimetre-wave (mmWave) 5G around 26GHz. The development of the Front-End Module (FEM) was carried out in collaboration with Filtronic Broadband.

“The band 24.25 to 27.5GHz was designated at the end of last year by the EU Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) as the preferred band, or ‘Pioneer Band’, for mmWave 5G,” said Liam Devlin, CEO of Plextek RFI. “We welcome the opening up of this spectrum band for 5G, but we identified early on that there was a lack of components available at this frequency, and that led us to define this joint FEM development project.”

The FEM comprises a GaAs low-noise amplifier (LNA), power amplifier (PA) and transmit/receive switch housed in a custom laminate surface-mount (SMT) package measuring 10mm x 10mm. The receive path gain is 20dB across the full band, with a noise figure of 3.5dB. Transmit path gain is 19dB, and the output referred third order intermodulation (IP3) is +36dBm. Low-loss RF filtering has been integrated into the package structure, with a band-pass filter after the LNA and a harmonic rejection filter after the PA. Insertion loss figures are 0.7dB for the band-pass filter and 0.2dB for the harmonic rejection filter.

“This development has demonstrated that we can overcome the manufacturing challenges of integrating filters along with multiple die into an SMT package,” said Mike Weaver, managing director of Filtronic Broadband. “This is not easy at mmWave frequencies, and will give us a crucial head start towards eventual production when the market demand for 5G components at 26GHz begins to ramp up.”

More information about Plextek RFI’s work on developing 5G MMIC and components can be found on the Plextek RFI website, and on its YouTube channel.


About Plextek RFI

Plextek RFI is a UK-based design house specialising in the design and development of RFICs, MMICs and microwave/mm-wave modules. We have designed over 95 custom ICs at frequencies ranging from baseband to 100GHz, and are a third party design house for Wolfspeed (Cree), GCS, Qorvo and WIN. Our designs are used in a wide range of applications from test instrumentation to infrastructure equipment and very high volume consumer wireless devices. We have in-house test facilities for both bare die (RFOW) and SMT packaged components. Our microwave and mm-wave module development activity encompasses a wide range of technologies including conventional SMT on laminate substrates, High Density Interconnect (HDI), chip and wire, thin film, thick film and LTCC.

About Filtronic Broadband

Filtronic Broadband is a long-established, state-of-the-art designer and manufacturer of RF, microwave and mm-wave products for telecoms and aerospace/defence OEMs.

Filtronic Broadband’s core capabilities are centred around three distinct groups: mmWave transceiver modules; microwave/mmWave defence and aerospace components; and contract manufacturing and design services. It is a device-agnostic supplier of mmWave transceivers to OEMs, offering high data-rate, competitively-priced modules that reduce customer time-to-market. It also supplies customised, turnkey microwave solutions and bespoke Contract Manufacturing Services, including ‘chip & wire’ and multichip packaging, at its highly-automated UK facility.

The Filtronic Broadband component range includes GaN and GaAs amplifiers, MMICs, diplexers and filter products, covering a wide frequency range from DC to 110GHz.