Industry News

RF SiP/Module Technology Overview

The trend in the wireless industry toward further miniaturization and improved performance in a small form factor and at lower costs has increased demand for greater integration of features and functions as well as advanced substrate and packaging technologies. This is especially notable in the wireless cellular and connectivity markets.

RF Module Design
RF Module Design

RF System-in-Package (SiP), MultiChip Modules (MCM), and RF Modules, typically comprising multiple IC chips, integrated/embedded passive components and SMT parts, certainly have been leading the technology innovations. RF SiP/Module provides higher integration flexibility by allowing mix-and-match of IC chips and the use of best-in-class technologies. Consequently RF SiP/Module typically offers faster time to market, lower product development costs than System-On-Chip (SoC) technology. Typical applications include transceiver SiP, radio SiP, FEM (Front End Module), ASM (Antenna Switch Module), and PAM (Power Amplifier Module).

The example design below shows the complexity of an RF SiP-MCM. This example includes various design challenges such as simulation of multiple chips, passive circuits, and interconnects, all together in a single package.

Complexity of an RF SiP-MCM
RF SiP-MCM Design Challenges

Although RF SiP/Module offers many advantages over other technologies, there are many design challenges involving the integration of embedded passives, ICs, packages, interconnects, substrates, and transitions all together. The co-design of these hetero-technologies is critical to achieve first pass design success for high frequency or high speed applications. The ability to concurrently access the different simulation technologies needed in one design environment to analyze the interaction of different technologies or functional blocks as well as parasitics is the key to first pass design success. Agilent EEsof offers the best comprehensive solution to address these design challenges.

The SiP market can be divided into three market segments by system content and complexity (or scale). From the system content standpoint, there are analog RF, mixed signal, and digital markets, and from the scale standpoint there are small-scale, medium-scale, and finally large-scale markets. The three market segmentations of SiP are therefore analog RF small-scale SiP, mixed signal medium-scale SiP, and digital large-scale SiP markets. RF SiP normally spans from analog small-scale to mixed signal medium-scale market segments. The typical products and applications for each market segment are PAM (power amplifier module), FEM (Front End Module), and ASM (Antenna Switch Module) for analog RF small-scale SiP, transceiver module, radio module for mixed signal medium-scale SiP, and lastly MCP (Multi Chip Packaging) type of applications for digital large-scale SiP. Agilent EEsof serves analog RF small-scale and mixed signal medium-scale SiP markets.

System Content versus Complexity