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DARPA Demos Lightweight, 94ghz Silicon System on a Chip

By Network World

July 8, 2014

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The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) says it has demonstrated an all-silicon, microchip-sized system on a chip that runs at 94 GHz, claiming it marks the first time a silicon-only package has achieved such a high frequency, which falls in the millimeter-wave range.

"This accomplishment opens the door for co-designing digital [complementary metal-oxide semiconductors] and millimeter-wave capabilities as an integrated system on an all-silicon chip, which should also make possible new design architectures for future military [wireless] systems," says DARPA program manager Dev Palmer.

The agency wants to have lighter, more powerful, and less expensive systems for various applications such as communications, radar, and guidance systems.

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems built the all-silicon system on a chip transmitter, which uses a digitally assisted power amplifier that adapts amplifier performance characteristics to changing signal requirements; such capability allows for simultaneous optimization of efficiency and linearity. The system can support a range of modulation formats and could link to multiple systems using different waveforms from a single silicon chip.

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