1. Imec introduces a cognitive baseband radio (COBRA) architecture targeting 4G requirements at up to 1Gbit/s throughput and multiple asynchronous concurrent streams (for instance simultaneous digital broadcasting reception and high-speed internet access). The low-cost, flexible architecture answers a new trend in wireless communication where terminals give their users ubiquitous broadband access to a multitude of services.
COBRA is an interesting architecture for future mobile handsets and all kinds of battery-powered wireless connectivity devices, as well as for base-stations for small cells. The COBRA architecture can be customized to meet the requirements for many standards (WLAN (IEEE802.11n to .11ac), cellular (LTE to LTE-advanced), and broadcasting (DVB-T/H to DVB-T2)) and dedicated needs.
COBRA contains imec’s energy-efficient high-performance ADRES reconfigurable baseband processor featuring multi-threading and wide SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) capabilities. The associated tools enable C-based compilation, as well as assisted parallelization over multiple cores and/or threads. This speeds up the design leading to shorter time-to-market and more energy-efficient radios. Imec’s low-power flexible forward-error correction (FlexFEC) processor template achieving high-speed turbo & LDPC is also included. An LDPC-specific instance for multi-standard broadcasting has also been derived to further optimize power and area. Moreover, COBRA features a novel ASIP (application-specific integrated processor)-based digital front-end enabling flexible filtering synchronization and spectrum sensing. This component also enables hierarchical platform activation, resulting in idle power in the range of 2mW in 65 low-power CMOS technology for the baseband platform.
The Cobra platform is now available for licensing. The reconfigurable radio architecture and related cores can be evaluated and tested at IMEC and the research institute is in the process of committing its third-generation ADRES processor to silicon on a 40-nm CMOS process. However, when asked about the tape-out for the processor, Van Der Perre said: “Not in 2010.”
2. Imec presents an improved processing technique for germanium-based thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cells resulting in significant reduction of cell cost, an essential step to develop a market for thermophotovoltaic applications. Imec’s newly developed TPV cells are fabricated on germanium substrates with an optimized surface, specifically designed and manufactured for this application.
Thermophotovoltaic cells convert radiation from heat sources with a temperature lower than the sun’s temperature. TPV cells are ideally suited to be used in an industrial context, for example to generate electricity from waste heat released during steel or glass production. Alternatively, TPV cells can be added to domestic heating systems to co-generate electricity besides hot water. TPV cells may therefore reduce the waste and hence increase the efficiency of domestic heating systems.