Galileo-ready receiver IC to enhance consumer gear navigation

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada—RFIC maker SiGe Semiconductor, Inc . announces what it says is the world's first Galileo -ready receiver chip for mass-market consumer electronics. It's a power-managed IC using a software-based architecture. In its Standby mode all circuits are off and the IC draws only leakage current.

To Out-Perform GPS?

A word about Galileo. It's the earth satellite navigation and positioning system that's expected to out-perform the venerable GPS (Global Positioning System) satellite-based nav system.

In any case, a combination of GPS and Galileo is expected to improve the user experience of location-based services by enabling products to determine position data much more consistently, more quickly, and with greater accuracy than with GPS alone.

That's significant, as the global satellite navigation market is expected to reach a whopping $30 billion by the time the Galileo system becomes operational in 2008.

Getting Ready

For its part in the game, SiGe Semiconductor is debuting its SE4120 , and is publishing a preliminary engineering datasheet. The announcement is anticipated to let consumer device manufacturers capitalize on the emerging market by designing Galileo-ready systems—even as the standards are being finalized.

The SE4120L highly integrated receiver packs support for software-defined satellite signal processing for both GPS and Galileo birds. Not incidentally, the Galileo and GPS L1 input signals are both centered on 1575.42-MHz. Click on the image to view a simplified block diagram.

Click to view diagram

The SE4120 software-based receiver architecture ensures that changes to the standards can be supported with software upgrades. This permits you to design your systems now, ensuring time-to-market with Galileo-ready products.

Low-Cost, High Volume

SiGe Semiconductor's software-defined architecture will also minimize circuit board area, drop dissipation, and lower cost. That's just what's needed for high-volume portable consumer electronics.

The SE4120L's software architecture will also reduce the load on host processors, compared with conventional software approaches. It will also slash cost and power compared with dedicated hardware.

The chip's architecture includes a non-chip high-gain LNA (low-noise amplifier). The LNA is capable of delivering 18-dB of gain with a noise-figure of just 1.6-dB. That's achieved without the need for bulky active antennas and power-hungry external amplifier stages.

SiGe semi contends that by eliminating these components, the IC will cut a BOM (bill of materials) cost, and dissipation, in half. The SE4120L will draw less than 10-mA from a 2.7-V to 3.3-V supply. Under controlled conditions, systems using the SE4120L will be capable of tracking satellite signals down to a whisper-low level of -170-dBm.

The receiver also includes a linear AGC (automatic gain control) system, and a multi-bit A/D (analog-to-digital) converter feeding a low digital IF strip (intermediate frequency). The AGC ensures gain control over a range greater than 40 dB, so that signals are presented at an optimum level to the input of the A/D.

Software-Configurable Sampling

The device sampling will also be software-configurable, and will include support for low-bandwidth serialized multi-bit I/Q (in-phase and quadrature) output. The I/Q output is 2-bit serialized at near-zero IF that can directly feed downstream digital processors.

A PLL (phase-locked loop) with VCO (voltage-controlled oscillator) synthesizer and image-reject mixer will further reduce external component-count. The image-reject mixer sidesteps the need for an outboard SAW (surface acoustic wave) bandpass filter. The PLL demands only two passive components to implement an off-chip loop filter.

Oscillator Options

The SE4120L also features a very low-power crystal oscillator. It's typically used to provide a frequency reference. The oscillator stage is designed to work with parallel resonant crystals, or be driven from an external TCXO (temperature compensated crystal oscillator). If the crystal is used, its drive level is controlled so that the device is well-suited for use with miniature low-cost surface-mount crystals.

The system's IF filters, programmable in software, will support GPS and Galileo simultaneously, or GPS operation alone.

Price And Availability

SiGe says its receiver IC is in sampling, with full production scheduled for early next year. The SE4120L is packaged in a 4 x 4 x 0.9-mm QFN package that's RoHS -compliant (Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment). It will be priced below $3 a pop (in 100,000 unit quantities).

For more details contact Stuart Strickland at SiGe Semiconductor, Inc., 1050 Morrison Dr., Suite 100, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K2H 8K7. Phone: 613-820-9244. Fax: 613-820-4933. E-mail:

SiGe Semiconductor , 613-820-9244,

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