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New record low-power multi-standard transceiver for sensor networks

San Francisco, Calif., February 22, 2012 – Imec and Holst Centre announce a 2.3/2.4GHz transmitter for wireless sensor applications compliant with 4 wireless standards (IEEE802.15.6/4/4g and Bluetooth Low Energy). The transmitter has been fabricated in a 90nm CMOS process, and consumes only 5.4mW from a 1.2V supply (2.7nJ/bit) at 0dBm output. This is 3 to 5 times more power-efficient than the current state-of-the-art Bluetooth-LE solutions. These results have been obtained in collaboration with Panasonic, within imec and Holst Centre’s program for ultralow-power wireless communication. 

Applications for wireless sensor networks, personal healthcare, remote monitoring, smart building and logistics all require wireless low-power solutions. A common requirement is that they can operate for a reasonable long period on a small battery or harvester source. For such applications, standardization bodies have defined 2.4GHz wireless standards in the worldwide available ISM band, including IEEE802.15.6 (BAN) for body area networks, IEEE802.15.4 (Zigbee) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). But all recent transmitters that comply to these standards use in the range of 20~50mW, which is still too high for use in autonomous and semi-autonomous sensor nodes.

Imec’s new transmitter saves at least 75% of power consumption by replacing several power-hungry analog blocks with digitally-assisted circuits. The result is a transceiver that is compliant with all 4 of the standards, but that runs on a mere 4.5mA from a 1.2V supply (2.7nJ/bit). The multi-standard transceiver is highly reconfigurable; it has been demonstrated to support the required modulations and data rates from 50k~2Mbps. With the SD−DPA for the generation of the time-variant signal envelope, it is also the first published ultralow-power 2.4GHz-ISM band IEEE802.15.6-compliant transceiver.

This innovative transceiver is presented at the 2012 IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco (February 19-23).

About imec

Imec performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics. Imec leverages its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. Imec delivers industry-relevant technology solutions. In a unique high-tech environment, its international top talent is committed to providing the building blocks for a better life in a sustainable society. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, US, China, India and Japan. Its staff of about 1,900 people includes more than 500 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2010, imec’s revenue (P&L) was 285 million euro. Further information on imec can be found atwww.imec.be.

Imec is a registered trademark for the activities of IMEC International (a legal entity set up under Belgian law as a “stichting van openbaar nut”), imec Belgium (IMEC vzw supported by the Flemish Government), imec the Netherlands (Stichting IMEC Nederland, part of Holst Centre which is supported by the Dutch Government), imec Taiwan (IMEC Taiwan Co.) and imec China (IMEC Microelectronics (Shangai) Co. Ltd.) and imec India (Imec India Private Limited).

About Holst Centre

Holst Centre is an independent open-innovation R&D centre that develops generic technologies for Wireless Autonomous Transducer Solutions and for Systems-in-Foil. A key feature of Holst Centre is its partnership model with industry and academia around shared roadmaps and programs. It is this kind of cross-fertilization that enables Holst Centre to tune its scientific strategy to industrial needs.

Holst Centre was set up in 2005 by imec (Flanders, Belgium) and TNO (The Netherlands) with support from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Government of Flanders. It is named after Gilles Holst, a Dutch pioneer in Research and Development and first director of Philips Research. Located on High Tech Campus Eindhoven, Holst Centre benefits from the state-of-the-art on-site facilities. Holst Centre has over 150 employees from around 25 nationalities and a commitment from more than 30 industrial partners. Visit us at www.holstcentre.com

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