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This is the SSS Online archive page where we store past reviews of IC chips used in Wireless, Spread Spectrum and Digital Communications. For our most recent reviews, check out our New SS Chips page.


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Review of Xemics Chip Lineup: 2001
Are you looking for a short range RF transceiver IC? I suggest that you give a close look at the Xemics product line. Xemics is a fabless semiconductor company which develops and delivers ultra low-power, short-range wireless connectivity ICs. To visit their website, click on the logo below:

[Editor's Note: Xemics has been bought by Semtech. See their website for current product information. To the extent possible, links below have been redone to direct you appropriately.]

Xemics is a spin-off from that formidable technology powerhouse CSEM in Switzerland. Their products are starting to have quite an impact on the US market.

Their present offering in the RF chip lineup is the XE1201, a zero-IF FM transceiver that operates in the 300MHz to 500MHz band. It has an innovative receive clock generation circuit so that the received data is presented to your microcontroller with a synchronous clock. This eliminates the need for the designer to perform clock generation in firmware or hardware.

For those of you in the US, they have an applications engineer that specializes in the RF product line who is available for technical support. We have found this gentleman to be very cooperative and eager to help.

Their microcontroller line is very interesting too. They have some of the lowest current consumption micros out there. Operating on voltages down to 2.4V, they consume 300 microamps per MIPS! They also have a US-based applications engineer dedicated to this line.

A neat new spread spectrum chip that is expected to be on the market in the fall of 2001 is the Xemics XE1202 433/870/915MHz Low Power UHF Transceiver. This chip will operate all the way from 433 MHz to 928 MHz using its integrated synthesizer. See the information below for more specifics on this chip:

Transceiver chip description:

The XE1202 is a FSK one-chip transceiver circuit including both the RF front end and the baseband processing section. It can operate in the 915 MHz, 870 MHz and 433 MHz ISM bands. The LO is generated by a fully integrated frequency synthesizer allowing multi channel operations. Different VCO tank tuning is used for cinfiguring the circuit operation in the chosen frequency band. This chip will have applications in process & building control, security systems, wireless data link, home appliances, remote control, and wireless sensing.

Transceiver chip data:

Part number: XE1202.
433/870/915 MHz
Transmit power up to +15 dBm
Supply voltage: 2.7 volt
Power consumption 12 mA (RX); 33 mA (TX, +5dBm)
Sensitivity: -113 dBm
Data rate: 76.8 kbits/s
Modulation: CP-FSK

Click Here to see more information on this family of chips.

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BlueChip's Single Chip Frequency Hop Transceiver ICs (1998)
Editor's Note: BlueChip Communications was formerly Gran-Jansen AS. BlueChip Communication was acquired by Micrel Semiconductor Inc. in March, 2004. The old Bluechip logo has been re-linked to the Micrel site; click below for more Information on their current chip lineup:

BlueChip Communication AS

This just may be the chipset of choice for Ham Radio operators under the NEW TAPR SS STA recently granted by the FCC!

Transceiver chip description:

BlueChip Communications AS offers a line of SINGLE CHIP WIRELESS TRANSCEIVERS for radio-based frequency hopping spread spectrum communication.

The BCC 418 (300 - 600 MHz)and BCC 918 (700 - 1100 MHz) are single chip integrated circuits for radio-based spread spectrum communication (FHSS). Both are ultra low power and zero-IF devices. The circuit, which is easily applied, can be utilised in homes, health care and industry in various ways such as WLANs, high security alarms, 2-way paging, telemetry, environmental control systems, wireless data repeaters, barcode readers, and many more. A typical system consists of a microprocessor and a transceiver plus a minimum of external components. These chips are pin compatible and allow the user to utilize one motherboard.

Hams might add an RF Power Amplifier of a few Watts output, a little more receive front end low noise amplifier gain and a good multi-element Yagi antenna and thus achieve RF line of sight ranges of several miles!!!

Why not check out this simple low cost SS IC?

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New SS ASICs from IMEC (1998)

Picture of IMEC Chip
The IMEC PMCM Digital SS Transceiver Chip

IMEC has developed a range of flexible direct sequence spread spectrum ASICs, for use in satellite communications and terrestrial networks. The devices have been developed in collaboration with SAIT Systems, a Belgium telecom company, and the European Space Agency.

The family of spread spectrum chips currently available aims at niche markets where highly reliable wireless communications are required, such as industrial networks for monitoring and control.

The Programmable Mobile Communications Modem (PMCM) is a digital transceiver chip integrating baseband and IF functionality with very low implementation loss. Fully programmable spreader and correlator functions, band-limiting oversampling filters and IF up-and down-converters are on chip. The ASIC can process 10 Mchips/s and incorporates an interface for an external processor for the application-dependent functionality. The PMCM encapsulates a complexity equal to 95,000 gates.

The PMCM provides a low cost and highly-miniaturized solution for applications such as VSAT communications and terminals for Private Mobile Radio networks via satellite. Code lengths of up to 1024 are supported. The high processing gain also makes the PMCM a versatile key component for wireless LAN applications where robustness of the link is crucial, such as in industrial environments with high and unpredictable interference levels.

The Advanced Spread spectrum Transceiver ASIC (ASTRA) is a high speed, low power version of the PMCM, providing 15 Mchips/s, parallel demodulation of 4 channels and a 32-bit interface to a host processor.

The Direct Sequence Integrated Receiver with ARM (TM) Core (DIRAC) chip combines flexible and highly integrated IF receiver chain with an on-chip 32-bit ARM microprocessor core. Cost effective spread spectrum receivers, for satellite services for example, can be built using this device.

A spread spectrum development kit built around the PMCM allows users to explore programmable parameter ranges and to determine the parameter set tuned towards a particular application.

A rapid design turnaround cycle - in the order of weeks - towards customized components is possible due to the modular architecture of the devices and the advanced CATHEDRAL CAD environment developed at IMEC. Specification, synthesis and simulation at different abstraction levels are all provided in an integrated toolbox. A link with the Synopsys, Inc.'s (Mountain View, CA) design tools ensures compliance with industrial standards of ASIC design. The design path is open to any foundry.

A current development is the integration of digital, and analog modem components in an MCM (Multi-Chip Module) package, which enables further reductions in size and cost.

The next generation of ASICs will concentrate on high-speed operation for markets such as wireless LAN, wireless multimedia and wireless office products.

Editor's Note: IMEC was founded in 1984 and is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. It is Europe's leading independent research center for the development and licensing of microelectronics, and information and communication technologies (ICT). IMEC employs over 1000 people. Its 36,000 sq. ft. clean room is dedicated to advanced research and development into semiconductor processing technologies. IMEC's annual budget is more than 4.4 billion BF (103 million Euro). Its revenue is derived from agreements and contracts with government agencies, aerospace and semiconductor industry companies world-wide.

IMEC's activities concentrate on design of integrated information and communication systems; silicon process technology; silicon technology and device integration; microsystems, components and packaging; and advanced training in microelectronics.

Click for More Information on IMEC

For more information on availability of IMEC chips and industry partnerships, contact:

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