Since the days of pioneers like Marconi and Armstrong, radio has fascinated countless numbers of engineers. Wireless technology has evolved from the days of bulky, power-hungry vacuum tubes to today’s tiny, battery-powered portable communication devices. This remarkable development of RF circuits is chronicled in the first chapter of Design of CMOS Radio-Frequency Integrated Circuits entitled “A Nonlinear History of Radio.” Author Thomas Lee uses his engaging history lesson as a starting point for this 797-page guide to the design of gigahertz RF ICs.
In the second edition, Lee has tweaked all of the first-edition material and added additonal information, including the second chapter covering the fundamentals of wireless systems. A discussion of passive RLC networks now precedes an expanded chapter on the characteristics of passive IC components, including the interconnect that can cause parasitic headaches at high frequencies. In addition, the chapter on MOS device physics now includes discussion of recent scaling trends and provides readers with a basic understanding of models that are suitable for hand calculation.
The remainder of the book progresses with treatment of such topics as distributed systems, bandwidth estimation techniques, high-frequency amplifier design, noise, and RF power amps. Near the end of the book, the author runs through the attributes and limitations of various receiver and transmitter architectures. The material assumes a thorough understanding of low-frequency analog IC design, although some review material is provided for those who are a bit rusty in that area.
Because the book aims to encompass a wide subject matter, it may lack the details and examples that more tightly-focused texts can deliver. The author’s conversational writing style interspersed with lighthearted humor is enjoyable to read. The last chapter will provide a trip down memory lane for some readers—a sampling of circuits of particular interest in RF history, including the Regency TR-1 transistor radio design and the three-transistor cicuit that created the first toy walkie-talkie in 1962.
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