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The range and impact of SiGe bipolar and BiCMOS technologies on wireless transceivers for portable telephony and data communications are surveyed. SiGe technology enables transceiver designs that compare favorably with competing technologies such as RF CMOS or III-Vs, with advantages in design cycle time and performance versus cost. As wireless devices continue to increase in complexity using conventional battery technology as the power source, the desire to reduce current consumption in future transceivers continues to favor SiGe technology. Examples are drawn from contemporary wireless communications ICs. The performance of on-chip passive components in silicon technologies are also reviewed in this paper. Greater understanding of the limitations of passive devices coupled with improved models for their performance are leading to circuits offering wider RF dynamic range at ever higher operating frequencies. The innovations in on-chip passive design and construction currently being pioneered in mixed-signal SiGe technologies are enabling circuits operating deep into millimeter-wave frequency bands (i.e., well above 30 GHz). In addition, sophisticated on-chip magnetic components combined with deep submicrometer SiGe active devices in a transceiver front end are envisioned that enable single-volt SiGe circuits, with even lower current consumption than is achievable today. Relevant examples from the recent literature are presented.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2005