Imec has announced it has reached a new milestone in its UWB chip development. The Belgian nanoelectronics leader revealed the world’s first IEEE 802.15.4z impulse-radio Ultra-wideband (IR-UWB) transmitter chip, which aims to combine the best of UWB’s accuracy and security for indoor localization together with always important improvements in energy efficiency. Potential applications for this next-generation technology are extremely broad, as indoor localization and micro-location applications become increasingly popular, such as keyless entry to vehicles, hotels and office buildings, as well as asset tracking in warehouses or factories.
Fabricated in 28nm CMOS (with an occupied core area of only 0.15 mm2), the chip aims to enable the next generation of cost-effective, small form-factor UWB deployments. It has been custom developed to achieve a record-low power consumption of 4.9 milliwatt, which is 10 times lower than the power budget of state-of-the-art UWB products, in a standard-compliant operation, while adhering to UWB’s stringent spectral emission regulations. It’s also the first sub-5 mW IR-UWB transmitter chip to comply with the newly released IEEE 802.15.4z standard for even more accurate and secure UWB ranging measurements.
“This breakthrough is the latest addition to Imec’s track record when it comes to the development of micro-location technologies and ultra-low-power digital RF circuits. Yet, our ambition reaches much further than developing a sole UWB transmitter,” highlights Christian Bachmann, program manager of UWB and Bluetooth Secure Proximity at Imec. “What we’re working towards, is the design of a complete transceiver – including novel high-performance ranging, direction finding and localization algorithms – that will allow our partners to fully explore the opportunities brought by next-gen UWB. Opportunities that might even extend to future radar-like applications, whereby UWB isn’t just used to measure the distance between two UWB radios – but also to detect passive objects.”