System Design of RF Receiver and Digital Implementation of Control Logic
This report is the outcome of a thesis work done at Linköpings University, campus Norrköping. The thesis work was part of the development of a RF transceiver chip for implantable medical applications. The development was done in cooperation with Zarlink Semiconductor AB, located in Järfälla, Stockholm.
The transceiver is divided into three main blocks, which are the wakeup block, the MAC block and the RF block. The wakeup block is always operating and is awaiting a wakeup request in the 2,45GHz ISM-band. The RF-block is operating in the 400MHz ISM-band and is powered up after wakeup The MAC is the controller of the whole chip. All three blocks in the transceiver structure should be integrated on the same chip, using TSMC 0,18µm process design kit for CMOS (Mixed Signal /RF).
The purpose of the thesis work was to develop the wakeup circuit for the transceiver. The main purpose was to develop the digital control logic in the circuitry, using RTL-coding (mainly VHDL) but the thesis work also included a system analysis of the whole wakeup block, including the front-end, for getting a better overview and understanding of the project.
A complete data packet or protocol for the wakeup message on 2,45GHz, is defined in the report and is one of the results of the project. The packet was developed continuously during progress in the project. Once the data packet was defined the incoming RF stage could be investigated. The final proposal to a complete system design for the wakeup block in the RF transceiver is also one of the outcomes of the project. The front-end consists mainly of a LNA, a simple detector and a special decoder. Since the total power consumption on the wakeup block was set to 200nA, this had to be taken under consideration continuously. There was an intention not to have an internal clock signal or oscillator available in the digital part (for keeping the power consumption down). The solution to this was a self-clocking method used on the incoming RF signal. A special decoder distinguishes the incoming RF signal concerning the burst lengths in time. The decoder consists of a RC net that is uploaded and then has an output of 1, if the burst length is long enough and vice versa.
When it was decided to use a LNA in the front-end, it was found that it could not be active continuously, because of the requirements on low power consumption. The solution to this was to use a strobe signal for the complete front-end, which activates it. This strobe signal was extracted in the digital logic. The strobe signal has a specific duty cycle, depending on the time factors in the detector and in the decoder in the front-end. The total strobing time is in the implemented solution 250µs every 0,5s.
The digital implementation of the control logic in the wakeupblock was made in VHDL (source code) and Verilog (testbenches). The source code was synthesized against the component library for the process 0,18µm from TSMC, which is a mixed/signal and RF process. The netlist from the synthesizing was stored as a Verilog file and simulated together with the testbenches using the simulator Verilog-XL. The results from the simulations were examined and reviewed in the program Simvison from Cadence. The result was then verified during a pre-layout review together with colleagues at Zarlink Semiconductor AB. During the implementation phase a Design report was written continuously and then used for the pre-layout review. Extracts (source code and testbench) from this document can be found as appendixes to the report.
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