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IBM Breakthrough Could Alleviate Mobile Data Bottleneck

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IBM's new phased-array transceiver package.

A packaged view of IBM's new millimeter wave chip; each of the 64 diamond-shaped objects is an antenna.

Credit: IBM

IBM scientists have developed a phased-array transceiver designed to ease data bottleneck issues for mobile communication while allowing radar-imaging technology to be scaled down to the size of a computer laptop.

The researchers say the complete solution, which includes antennas, packaging, and transceiver integrated circuits (ICs), transforms signals between millimeter-wave and baseband, and is smaller than a U.S. nickel.

The key advance in the new chip is the monolithic integration of all the necessary components, including transmitter, receiver, and all antennas, in a single package, says IBM's Alberto Valdes-Garcia. "The breakthrough is the increase in the level of integration in our silicon-based solution at this frequency," he says.

Valdes-Garcia notes that most existing millimeter-wave components use three-five materials rather than silicon. He says the frequency range of the new ICs is well suited for high-resolution radar-imaging uses thanks to its short wavelength, relatively low atmospheric attenuation, and ability to penetrate debris.

IBM says the packaged transceiver operates at frequencies in the range of 90-94 GHz. It is deployed as a unit tile, combining four phased array ICs and 64 dual-polarized antennas.

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