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Demystifying the “Made Up” Words of RF

Demystifying the “Made Up” Words of RF

To help commemorate April Fools’ Day, here are five favorite “made up” RF industry terms and what they mean for our hyper-connected world.

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Listen to any earnings call for a company in the RF space, and you’re bound to hear terminology that may sound like a foreign language: hexaplexers, diversity-receive modules, TC-SAW, impedance tuners, transimpedance amplifiers, and acronyms like MIMO, AESA, GaN, and iFEM.

While we affectionately call them the “made up” words of RF, these technologies are vital to solving today’s challenges in mobile handsets, wireless infrastructure, and defense applications. To help commemorate April Fools’ Day, here are five of our favorite “made up” industry terms and what they mean for our hyper-connected world.

BAW: The sound a mechanical sheep makes.
In the RF space, a bulk-acoustic-wave (BAW) filter uses acoustic waves to allow only particular frequencies or bands of frequencies to pass through, while blocking unwanted signals. BAW is particularly well-suited for interference problems at high frequencies, and has found its way into everything from marquee smartphones to automotive navigation and defense radar systems. To learn more, check out RF Filter Technologies for Dummies.

Multiplexer: A duplexer after a cup of high-octane coffee.
Mobile-device users can both upload (called “uplink”) and download (called “downlink”) content from the Internet. Like duplexers, multiplexers ensure that transmissions on the uplink do not interfere with reception on the downlink. However, multiplexers take this a step further, allowing transmission of multiple data streams at the same time in one complex signal, while extending battery life. This technology helps mobile providers increase data rates by combining two (and soon three) cellular bands, known as carrier aggregation. Learn more in Carrier Aggregation Fundamentals for Dummies.

GaN-on-SiC: Half the periodic table in a single phrase.
Gallium nitride (GaN) is a relatively new technology compared to other compound semiconductors like silicon germanium (SiGe) and gallium arsenide (GaAs). But it’s become the technology of choice for power-hungry applications that require signal transmissions over long distances or at higher power levels (think radar, satellites. and cellular base stations). However, with great power density comes great responsibility—ahem, higher temperatures. The superior thermal conductivity of silicon carbide (SiC) helps keep GaN-on-SiC devices cool, enhancing performance and reliability. For more on GaN, check out GaN RF Technology for Dummies.

Power Doublers: The technology named by engineers.

Indeed, the name says it all. Power-doubler amplifier modules are designed to meet high output requirements at the lowest power consumption, and often feature GaN-on-SiC and GaAs (see above) technologies. With the rollout of new high-performance cable broadband, deemed “DOCSIS 3.1,” power doublers are becoming increasingly important for ensuring proper deployment, performance, and reliability of cable TV (CATV) DOCSIS 3.1 systems.

802.11p: The Dewey decimal number for RF.

802.11p is an approved amendment of the Wi-Fi 802.11 standard to add wireless access in vehicle environments (WAVE), making it a key driver of the connected-car reality. Products under the 802.11p standard—including power amplifiers, low noise amplifiers and Wi-Fi LTE coexistence filters—support intelligent transportation systems, including vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-roadway data exchange. By connecting a car to other cars and its surroundings, 802.11p products enable new driving efficiencies, safety features, and design possibilities for car manufacturers.

Have a favorite #RFMadeUpWord? Be sure to share in the comments and with us on social @QorvoInc.

Brent Dietz is the Director of Corporate Communications at Qorvo Inc. Follow him at @QorvoInc.

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