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A digital envelope modulator as part of a polar transmitter architecture for the 802.11a/g WLAN OFDM standards is investigated. The digital envelope modulator is quite similar to a state-of-the-art DAC design, but now it has been optimized to deal with envelope signals. A thermometer-coded envelope DAC has been implemented in a 90 nm digital CMOS process. Measurements of a test chip show the digital envelope modulator to reach an OFDM output power of 5 dBm for 54 Mb/s using 64 QAM at 2.45 GHz and fulfilling EVM specifications and in-band spectral mask requirements using just 12.7 mW from a 1.2 V supply. Combining the digital envelope modulator with an off-chip power amplifier gives an output power of 20.4 dBm, while fulfilling EVM specifications and in-band spectral mask requirements. The output power of the presented envelope DAC can be increased in a re-design by scaling device sizes. The envelope DAC is a key component in a software-defined-radio transmitter.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2007