Toward Democratizing RF IC Design





Wednesday, Jul 21, 2021
6:30 PM - 7:45 PM (Los Angeles Time)

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Toward Democratizing RF IC Design

Tom McKay, IEEE

Abstract: Industrial radio frequency IC design builds on mixed-signal design infrastructure by extending device compact models for required accuracy and by addressing multi-rate circuit simulation inherent in gigahertz carriers modulated at megahertz rates. Device compact model RF extension relies on accurate linear characterization of test hardware with multi-GHz scattering parameter measurement. Commercial vector network analyzers (VNAs) now extend scattering parameter measurement conveniently well into the millimeter wave regime for those who can afford them. Open-source VNAs now push into centimeter wave frequencies and open source simulation software supports harmonic balance and related RF IC centric methods. Improvements in measurement tools, methods for RF extension modeling, simulator qualification and design flow can extend open-source IC design to wireless systems. The required collaboration roadmap includes open-source centimeter-wave VNA (OSVNA) architectures supporting modern self-calibration methods, silicon on-wafer OSVNA calibration elements, simulator-based device modeling, simulator test-cases and design flows consistent with constrained open-source tools. Informed by over 35 years in GaAs and Silicon RF IC technology, product advanced development and design, the author outlines one path to a healthy open-source RF IC hardware ecosystem.

Speaker’s bio: Tom McKay, Senior Member of the IEEE. Tom is an IC designer, architect and technologist with over 30 years’ experience in wireless IC design and innovation. Under the mentor-ship of John Eisenberg, Tom published original theory and results for a 2-18 GHz GaAs distributed amplifier IC in 1986. In the early 90’s at Harris- and later, Samsung-Microwave Semiconductor Tom designed, developed and qualified low noise amplifiers for television and for Qualcomm’s Globalstar satellite phone design. Tom joined VLSI Technology in the late 90’s, showing benefits of 180nm CMOS for microwave applications. In 1999, Tom co-founded Zeevo, leading RF development on the first single-chip 180 nm CMOS Bluetooth RF SoC, shipping in volume to tier 1 customers. Zeevo was acquired by Broadcom in 2005. As Principal Engineer with RF Micro Devices (now Qorvo), Tom invented compact, frequency agile RF filters with Q’s over 200, with measured demonstration in 2007 at the 90 nm node. Tom drove RFSOI development from a design perspective for cellular front-ends, now widely utilized in smart phone antenna switches and tuners. In 2009 Tom joined MStar (now part of MediaTek), where he patented and developed multi-mode, multi-band cellular CMOS receiver techniques. Tom has held positions of Senior Manager at Samsung Semiconductor, Staff Scientist at WJ Communications and Sr. Principal Engineer at MStar. Tom now leads RF path-finding efforts focused on the synergy between circuit design and GLOBALFOUNDRIES process technologies to address new market needs through early-phase hardware demonstrators. Tom holds an MSEE from the University of Wisconsin- Madison, is a Senior Member of the IEEE and is inventor on 15 US patents and patents-pending.

This event is organised by MTT-SCV.