IDT’s phased array beamforming ICs enable cost-effective, next generation system solutions for 5G, Satcom and radar applications. Each beamforming IC contains multiple independently controlled active channels for element-level beam pattern shaping in electronically scanned array antennas (ESAs). The compact ICs are available in planar BGA or QFN packages enabling the realization of very low profile and small form factor phased array antennas with λ/2 element spacing. The ICs are available as transmit-only (Tx), receive-only (Rx) or transmit/receive (T/R) variants covering all of the popular 5G and Satcom frequency bands. IDT’s beamformer product line is rapidly expanding to keep up with the growing commercial demand for affordable phased array antennas.

28 GHz 2x2 Phased Array Beamformer

IDT's 4-channel millimeter-wave F5280 beamformer is a T/R (TDD or half-duplex) silicon IC designed using an advanced SiGe BiCMOS process for 5G phased array applications. It addresses the popular worldwide 5G mmWave bands centered around 28 GHz. 

The core IC has 6-bit phase control and more than 35 dB gain control on each channel to achieve fine beam steering and gain compensation between radiating elements. In addition, each IC has on-chip beam-state memory, and a fast digital interface enabling rapid beam update rates with minimal settling time. 

Ku-Band, K/Ka-Band, and CDL 8-Ch Phased Array Beamformers 

IDT's 8-channel beamformers are either Rx or Tx (FDD or full-duplex) silicon ICs designed using an advanced SiGe BiCMOS process for Satcom phased array applications. The IC physical footprint is optimized for integration with a 2x2 sub-array of dual-polarized elements having λ/2 spacing. IDTs F6501, F6502 and F6503 family covers the three major uplink (or Tx) frequency bands associated with the majority of existing geostationary (GEO) and emerging low/medium earth orbit (LEO/MEO) satellite constellations. For downlink (or Rx), the complementary part family consists of F6101, F6102 and F6103 for Ku, K/Ka and CDL bands, respectively.  In addition to supporting airborne, ground-based and maritime Satcom terminals, these ICs may also be used in radar systems or other applications that utilize separate Tx and Rx phased array antennas.   

What is Phased Array Beamforming and Beam Steering?

Phased array beamforming ICs (“active beamformers” or “beamformers”) enable beam forming and beam steering by controlling the phase and amplitude of the RF signal at each radiating element of an antenna array, creating points of constructive and destructive interference at select locations in the free space radiation pattern of the antenna. This allows the formation of narrow beams of energy that can be rapidly and dynamically steered in the direction of a mobile user or terminal. Antennas utilizing this technology are known as Electronically Scanned Arrays (ESAs), Active Electronically Scanned Arrays (AESAs) or more simply as Phased Arrays.

Phased arrays enable more reliable and efficient connectivity at higher data rates. In satellite communications (Satcom), data links between terrestrial platforms and geostationary (GEO) or fast moving low earth orbit (LEO) satellites can be established more quickly and maintained more reliably compared to using a mechanically-steered antenna. In addition, the elimination of mechanical gimbal assemblies enables lower profile antennas, lower maintenance costs and improved system reliability. In active antenna system (AAS) applications, phased arrays enable massive MIMO (mMIMO) operation in 4G and upcoming 5G networks resulting in higher spectral efficiency and throughput. 

While AESAs have been deployed in military applications for well over three decades, their relatively high cost and system size, weight and power (SWaP) have been prohibitive for many commercial applications. However, the advent of silicon beamforming ICs and the allocation of higher frequency, mmWave spectrum bands are changing this paradigm and enabling widespread deployment of this technology.